Of all five senses, the most nostalgic ones for me are sound and smell – be it a song I first heard on ‘that day’ or on ‘that trip’, or a smell that makes me feel at home, excites me or reminds me of an adventure. Have you ever been to a place that has a ‘smell’?
A couple of years ago, I was living in a share house with some friends of mine. My lovely friend from work had gifted us with some fresh eggs from her chickens. Now, of the five of us in the house, only one person regularly ate eggs – so these wonderful fresh organic eggs had slowly started to become ‘not-so-fresh’ eggs sitting on the kitchen bench…
One morning I woke up and, half asleep, I made my way into the kitchen for breakfast. I walked halfway into the room when my senses were alerted by some sort of overpowering nostalgic scent… ‘Africa!’ In an instant, I had been taken back to the dusty streets of Moyale, Kenya, to the wild markets, to the humble homes of the ones I had fallen in love with over there. My goodness! What was this smell coming from? I hunted through the kitchen. Warmer, warmer, colder. Warmer… hotter… hot.
And my eyes locked with the little red tray of eggs. Rotten. Eggs.
My nostalgia turned to shock, to disappointment, to laughter. It turns out, Africa smells like rotten eggs. In the middle of trying to do something about this tray that was seriously triggering my gag reflex, I was dealing with the confusing confrontation – that this magical reminiscent tangibility was actually just an awful punch in the face of the reality of deception.
I’m sure you know the feeling when you’ve realised that something you have known or believed for such a long time has turned out to be false or to be a misconception. It almost feels like betrayal! (Yes, my disappointment with the egg situation was that intense). Some times, our history or experience entices in us a comfortability that refuses an opportunity for greater truth. In Romans 12:2, we are encouraged to be transformed by the renewal of our minds, that by testing, we may discern what is the will of God.
When I was in Africa, I wouldn’t sit in the homes of ones we loved, cringing, wondering how many rotten eggs there must be around this house, how long they’ve been there, and why on earth they hadn’t done anything about the smell yet. It was my ‘normal’ during that time, and no one else had a problem with it. Looking back, I don’t carry frustration that I was naïve, or that I didn’t recognise the smell. I am, however, relieved that now the familiar scent doesn’t long linger in my life – I act upon the realisation and remove the source. Similarly, in our days before knowing Jesus or being young in faith, we may have comfortably seated ourselves in a place of impurity. We were aware that something wasn’t pleasant, but leaned into a passive state of being, accepting the atmosphere that rested in our headspace, ignorant to the ease of living free.
Lorisa Miller talks about our ‘well-trodden paths’, familiar routes we have walked for years and decades that are our auto-pilot responses to the circumstances we are fronted with. For me, over time, I had formed a path along my repeated route to loneliness with a banner over my head, reading, “I’m just going to be disappointed again.” My high hopes and expectations looked optimistic, but many times led me to the same place of unfulfilled desires and misled beliefs. Many of us have well known trails like this: when faced with rejection, you walk towards offence; when faced with an incredible opportunity, you slide down the slippery slope of insecurity.
You have put off the old self with its practises and have put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.Colossians 3:9-10
Have you allowed trauma, disappointment or fear author your responses and mindsets? Right now, is there a scent buried in the furniture and the walls of your heart that reeks of hurt or shame? Today is a beautiful opportunity for you, to stand at the entry of your well-trodden path, and to ask Jesus for another way. We have the mind of Christ, and the gift of friendship with Holy Spirit to teach us how to pioneer new highways with him. Trade in the old for the new. Find his perspective. Just as I was not made for Africa, you do not naturally carry the scent of rotten eggs. You carry the very essence of Christ.
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