Until this morning.
Travis and I officially started the "Sonship" study and were sitting down answering the first question that delved into our beliefs about being accepted as God's children versus living with an orphan mentality. The first question told me to describe what it looks like when I am acting as a spiritual orphan. As I began journaling about sin patterns that I see in my life, that unpleasant smell hit me with full force. And this time it was not going away.
But like a good student determined to persevere with my homework, I simply put the green sage citrus diffuser (thanks Mom J for that gift!) right under my nose. Ignore the bad smell. Keep plugging along. But no matter how much aromatherapy I tried, the smell persisted.
"I'll just live with the smell." I thought. Focus on the homework. Question 4: Choose one characteristic of being a spiritual orphan and describe a specific and recent example in your life that illustrates this characteristic. "Ok, how about last night during dinner prep? I had planned dinner by buying the tomatoes, preparing the sauce, making noodles, reheating the sauce, and was almost ready to put it on the table when Travis asked what we were going to do for dinner. A simple and kind question. But I took it as a confrontation that I had not thought about feeding our family, an insult that he had not noticed that I skipped out on the water fight with the kids to work in the kitchen, and an annoyance that he asked at the last minute as I was about to put it on the table. Feeling unappreciated, feeling tired of being the only one working (which is so bogus as Travis is the hardest working man known!), and definitely not serving with joy or love, I glared at him and grumpily put our pasta dinner on the table."
This is my "spiritual orphan" mentality: that I am alone in my efforts to love God and others, working really hard to do everything just right, and then becoming exhausted in my strong-willed and self-sufficient efforts that I blow up, mope, run away/scream for time alone. It is after the Lord works in my heart that I am reminded that I am not alone. I can trust less in my own efforts and more in the work of the God's Spirit. And I am safe and accepted in the loving arms of my Father. I don't have to huff around demanding appreciation. When I do, it spills out on others...like my sweet husband, like my watching children, like this new community... and it stinks!
It stinks...kinda like that putrid smell that I can no longer ignore? The smell that is breaking our concentration on these important truths enough to move Travis to open up a door to a cabinet where we put a rat trap last week? Sure enough, the 6 inch red metal trap that has such a sharp snapper that it could easily break a finger off has done its job.
After identifying the source of the smell, Travis ran to the bathroom to throw up. But as much as we did not want to deal with the week-old dead and decaying rat, we could not simply ignore it. It would only get worse.
And then I got it...My sin is not so different than that dead rat. I can ignore it for a while, move to a place where I don't have to smell it, use a scented diffuser to cover it, but eventually, it will get so awful that it cannot be ignored. It has to be searched out, identified, examined, and ultimately, removed. Or e"rat"icated as we joked. I guess I needed a very concrete object lesson to remind me that I am not a spiritual orphan. I am loved by God my Father. He allows me to bring to him my stinky, smelly self and he gently and repeatedly washes me clean of my filth. He even fills me with himself, so that his aroma of love, joy, and peace can come forth from my life.
So, today, I say: Thank you, Father, that you love me enough to not allow me to remain in my stinky sin, but you move me towards yourself. You take the filth upon yourself. You bring forgiveness that changes me. And for that, I am grateful.
I just hope that Lesson 2 of Sonship does not require such a vivid object lesson!