A Pleasing Aroma
Updated: May 29, 2021
Maybe it’s because this last month has been filled with grief. Maybe I’ve been listening to too much Evanescence. Or maybe it’s just been too long since I faced this head on.
I am sick. I have an incurable disease. And while I try to never let it define me, it has changed me.
My body is more frail than it ought to be for someone my age. There are days when my feet are heavy and it is difficult to walk. Sometimes I walk with a limp or even trip and fall on my face. Other days my vision blurs briefly for no apparent reason.
When young people make their lists of what they are looking for in a life partner, there is an unspoken assumption that the person will be healthy. I dread the thought of telling someone crazy enough to date me about this sickness. That there is currently no cure.
I know a man who has given up. He has the same diagnosis as I do. He doesn’t leave his home anymore or see the world with the sense of adventure he once had. The disease has beaten him.
I cannot – I will not – let it beat me.
So I did what I tend to do when I am struggling to understand, I went for a walk in the early hours of the morning and I began to talk it out with the One who never sleeps and always listens.
I wish I had heard an audible voice. Or even that still quiet voice that we are taught to listen for. Instead, I saw a rose bush.
Many of its roses had fallen to the ground. Others were in the process of losing their petals. The flowers were clearly at the end of their season, but I leaned in to smell one of them anyway. The scent was as beautiful as the most perfect, freshly picked rose.
“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ…” II Corinthians 2:15a
Some days I wonder how my life can be anything beautiful. There is so much that I lack, so much that I am not. So much of me is weakness. And yet, even the falling rose released a beautiful aroma.
A friend of mine frequently tells me that I benefit the people who know me. Sometimes that annoys me, as though I only exist for their benefit. But what if that’s what it means to be a pleasing aroma?
Is it possible that despite my sickness, or perhaps in my sickness, I reveal Christ? And if so, do others want the life they see in me? (A crazy thought.)
Anything would be worth it, if the result is that Jesus is reflected through my broken, weak, fragmented body. Anything at all.
Although its season is ending, the rose bush isn’t dying; it will bloom again. I also will still continue to have hard days where I have to die to myself and let go of my wishes for my life to be different.
Parts of my life have come to an end as a result of this sickness. Dreams have had to change.
But there are new seasons coming. Seasons filled with the full bloom of the flowers, different flowers than before, but as fragrant as the first roses.
Perhaps they will be even more fragrant.
“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” II Corinthians 2:15