It's said that the sense of smell is one of our greatest memory triggers. I remember Nanny when I smell her laundry detergent on a vintage sheet that has been tucked away for years. Lavender hand soap reminds me of the first time I visited Brad's parents' home as his brand-new girlfriend. I hear the laughs of my dorm-mates when I encounter the same scent that lingered in those halls. Crackling wood fires bring to mind memories of childhood campfires in the woods behind my parents' home, and cookouts at the church in the fall. Even the smell of dead flies (ha!) reminds me of the fly-strewn practice room that houses my favorite piano at college.
Touch and texture remind me of things, too. Play-doh, that smooth to crumbly feeling that smells just like...play-doh? You know! And the plastic tub. The dough that's molded over and over and shaped and stretched and cut and extruded and smooshed back into the container with three different colors mixed in for another day. (Happy run-on sentence to you. You're welcome.)
Lately, I feel like play-doh. Familiar, soft, playful. Sometimes a little crumbly. Not perfect. Molded again and again and definitely not what I used to be. Still good, but not what I used to be. And my heart is so much softer than the first day I let God use me, the first time I let him have control of my life.
Life is full of beautiful blessings. Days that turn out perfectly, a loving family, a comfortable home, a beautiful, boisterous baby boy. But there is so much pain, too. I can't share all my pain here, yet, maybe never, but know that if you're hurting, I will cry with you.
There is a family in Buffalo, NY whose preschooler, Ben, has been diagnosed with a tumor, a cancer that has given him mere weeks to live. Ben is a twin. And the middle child in a perfect little family. They love God. They believe, they trust. But the end of Ben's life appears to be imminent. I know that God can redeem this situation somehow, but it seems that there will be tears. And mourning. And grief. And many whys with no answers that satisfy. His mother keeps saying "but God." But God could intervene.
He has, and He will. God is sovereign. He gives generously, and takes away. We may never know why on this side of eternity, but we can trust Him because He loves us.
Even so, I'm crying for little Ben and his family tonight. I'm crying because my heart resonates with the pain of loss, and of aching for ones I've loved. Because I know the peace that passes understanding, and his name is Jesus. He is the only hope for our hurting souls, and the only answer to the death, destruction, and pain in this world. He is the only one, who by his own strength overcame the grave, and who gives us a future and a hope in heaven. He has made the way for us to become children of God, and to live with Him through eternity.
I'm taking comfort in that tonight. Even though I feel like I'm crumbling. Bits of me smashed up with other bits that I didn't think belonged. But I'll be rolled out and shaped and formed each day of my life and one day, become exactly what my Father planned for me all along. The pain, the sorrow, the joys, the blessings, the longings, the dreams fulfilled - they will all be worth it. They will come together as part of His glorious plan and I will be perfectly content, rejoicing in Him.
Come, Lord Jesus, come!