When I was in 4th grade or so, my dog, my beloved Great Dane with which I had a very special bond, betrayed me in a deep way by getting much too close to a skunk. We didn’t realize this unfortunate fact until she ran inside from her potty break to her rug in the kitchen where I was eating breakfast–right before I left for school.
Never in my life have I smelled a scent so potent. I’m talking eyes-watering kind of horridness. My mother promised me that I would not carry the stench with me. I trusted her, and went to school.
When I got there, I was in the hallway putting my backpack in its spot and I began to hear chatter amongst my friends and all of the cool 5th and 6th graders. More than a few words were flying through the air in the hallway regarding the smell of a skunk. I tried to hide my stinky little self from the words which called me out. I quickly went to the office and had the nice secretary smell me. She promised I didn’t stink. But I called my mom to come get me, so fragrant was my shame. I knew it was me. I was the kind of little girl that took this to heart and really never wanted to back to school again–sure I would be forever dubbed a nasty moniker I would never live down.
Certain days, certain triggers to the past bring back the stink and sting of some of the memories from the past. Much like a stench that won’t wash away. And, like a wiggly tooth that hurts when you bend it too far, sometimes my mind revisits and smells the shame and pain more than it should. Sometimes, I revisit a moment that hurt to be reminded of how far God has brought me. Sometimes, in all honesty, I revisit and go to that place in my mind that is not healthy and let it get flooded with what the pain once felt like. I’m not sure why. Humanity, I suppose.
Recently, I realized that wiggling that painful tooth-memory was torturing my heart and putting it back into a place of bondage–which is a real shame when I’ve been set free.
It’s really about choosing to look ahead and leave the past in the rear-view…
Though most of us might say we don’t like change, allowing or choosing change is the moving forward. The next steps are the ones away from what was and toward what can be. Ahead is where healing lies. Forward motion brings us to something new, something better.
And like I heard my husband say the other day, though folks resist change, once they’ve gotten through the adjustment of it, they rarely want to go back.
Because wow, that old stuff smells and lingers.
A couple days ago was the anniversary of my dad’s death. Honestly, I hadn’t even realized what day it was until most of the way through it. And when I did, I refused to wiggle that tooth. I have come too far, been healed of too much, to twist that wiggly little sucker. Nope. Instead, I choose to be grateful for how far God has brought me and look only forward.
There is a lot of odor lingering in this area of the mitten state for me and for my family. Though that is not why we are leaving this place to start anew, it is certainly not a bad byproduct of the move by any means. Sometimes, a fresh outlook, some fresh air, is exactly what is needed.
As our big move comes up in conversation with folks who don’t know the story, without fail, every single person hearing the plan has looked at us with a deadpan expression and asked, “Why?!” And we laugh and sometimes remind our own selves with our answer.
After all, why does a family with their grown children pick up, out-of-the blue, and move several hundred miles away to place they’ve hardly visited to begin a completely different lifestyle? We are buying acreage and acquiring a few animals that require pasture. New ranch house to old farmhouse. Suburbia to the middle-of-nowhere. Changing everything up.
Our dreams have changed course.
That, and we feel absolutely compelled to go. We compare it in our minds to Abraham–a favorite of my husband’s–whose God required of him to simply be faithful and go wherever God sent him. He took his family to a whole new place, without question, because God told him to leave.
And like the day a few years ago when we set sail in a funny, old motorhome with no idea where or why, we choose to do our best to be obedient and only ask, “Why not?” When roadblocks cause detours and doubt tries to creep in, we trust in the promises.
This life is one grand adventure–too huge to be boxed in. And our ideas and dreams are limited only by our own fear and complacency. We’ve learned that there is way more to it than what we once saw in our little, limited scope. There are places to go and folks to meet and stories to hear and to share. There are brave moments to step into and new memories to make that look nothing like what we’ve seen before.
That’s the style of “Why not?” kind of living. It’s scarier and riskier, but it’s also breathtakingly fresh and smells less like stagnancy and what’s already been done.
And so we’re just going. Just being obedient and moving forward.
Because our responsibility in this whole scheme of things isn’t to pattern after anything or anyone. Our goal is to listen to no voices around us who would question our sanity. Our one purpose, our only desire is to be faithful to the One Who knows and sees it all. He’s birthed in us a unity as a family and a desire to GO and explore this next path. He’s propelled us forward and is single-handedly arranging the way. And so we throw off the stinky stuff and we blaze a trail. (And oh-so-gently ask you to ask yourselves one little question…”Why not?”)