I wanted to get a haircut this past weekend but made very little effort to do so. I had meetings scheduled for later so I decided to go early this morning. The young lady seated at the front seemed less than enthusiastic to see me even though the place was empty. She chewed away at her gum while I said my last name three times; Graves, Grace? Graves, Trays? No Graves, oh Gray. After a few more clicks on the computer, she showed me to a chair, her chair. “Just great,” I thought.
I offered very little conversation other than how I wanted my hair cut. She was still smacking away at that gum. Several times she was close enough with her exhale that I could tell she was chewing Big Red and then with the next breath I could smell what it was intended to cover up, cigarettes. In the moment, it was a shot to my soul that took my breath.
I am often triggered in memories by smells. The smell of Black and Gold tobacco powder reminds me of sitting in my grandfather’s lap while he read the paper. You even mention rutabaga and I may possible get an uneasy stomach remembering how bad my mom botched it one time. The list goes on and on. This young lady’s breath reminded me of a sin that entangled my dad for over 30 years. I have many bad memories of taking a beating and smelling that stench. That, however, was not the punch to my soul.
I could sense the Lord showing me very painfully what my life often looks like. I talk about grace and forgiveness but underneath the tones of what I say are my actions. My decisions oftentimes are the stench of selfishness and pride rooted in a “me first” mentality. Going back to what Dr. Bart Box said on Sunday, “conviction is much more comfortable when it is in a group setting.” Today, there was no group. It was just me being washed over with the Word in a painful moment.
The young lady finished and I sheepishly smiled with a “thank you.” I went to pay and then apologized for not saying much. Lessons learned from Big Red and cigarettes.