I was that smelly kid once…
I never thought I was different, just… unique… I have been the first in a lot of life situations. Including armpit odor. Luckily I have a mother with a sensitive nose, and a heart for her “little monster”! I started using deodorant some time around age ten. I was shaving my face freshman year. I could harvest a full beard junior year. I was the third in my class to turn 18 and legally buy cigars!
My apartment building caught fire last night. I was in a great conversation with a friend when my smoke detector started yelling. I was mystified and quickly went to try and turn it off. I thought I was going to wake up the whole building, but quickly realized this was bigger than my apartment. Plus, I wasn’t cooking anything. We walked outside and the whole building was swarming with tenants. We walked downstairs, turned to the right, and smoke was pouring out of the breezeway. We ran to the apartment where the smoke was, and quickly grabbed the guy who was inside. He was walking around, mumbling, and soaking wet. The sprinklers were on high, the smoke was chemical like, and this man seemed bewildered. It was late, cold, and four fire trucks later, finished.
I graduated college with a degree in observation. I am a learned observer, and I get paid to do this. It happens to be one of my favorite pastimes. It is fun to watch people, judge people, listen to people, and compare. Which some are dangerous.
My friend snuck into my bathroom the other day and used my cologne. The whole day I kept smelling someone great. I repeatedly asked who smells really good? My friends told me I was being narcissistic, and to shut up. But my buddy looked at me and said, “are you serious?”. And I was. So I said yes. He told me how he put on my cologne earlier that day.
I felt stupid.
We get used to our own smell. We get comfortable and it is hard to observe ourselves. When my cologne was on my friend, I couldn’t believe it smelled that good. I don’t believe I smell like that when I wear it.
It is easy to see things in others than ourself, right? It is easy to encourage others, right? It is easy when it isn’t us.
I had a YoungLife leader demonstrate this idea while using scripture. He told us to tell the person to our right, “well done good and faithful servant, you are God’s beloved”. We then had to tell the the person behind us, to the left, and in front. He began to have us wait, listen, and look at the the first person you spoke to and say, “I am God’s beloved”. Try it, it sucks. We don’t like ourselves, and we do not enjoy edifying ourselves.
When I was forced to confront myself, and my own self hate, I became more intimate with myself. With the fire came intimacy. I met all my neighbors on account of the blaze. With my mom confronting a smelly ten-year-old boy, we became closer.
We grow closer through trials.
Conflict precedes intimacy.
When you go to battle with someone, you are forever bonded. When you experience pain with someone, you are forever bonded. When you call someone out in a game of monopoly, you become better friends! You grow through someone pointing out the plank in your eye. You may have contempt for that person, but when you can see the light you can see love. We may not be at a place where we have “eyes to see”, but with hindsight, and humility, conflict is beautiful.
Can we be so humble as to let people put us through the fire? Can we be honest enough to know we don’t have it all together? Can we suffer and live? Will we let others prune us in order to grow?
May we be believers who extend grace beyond ourself. May we love people by allowing them to see who we really are. By having more hard conversations, life happens, and intimacy expands.