Stephanie Ehmke, MA, LPC
What's Your Christmas Fragrance?
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.” 2 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV)
One of my favorite things about the holiday season is the fragrant aroma it brings from so many different sources. I love the smell of pine when walking by a Christmas tree lot, the smell of gingerbread cookies baking, and the scent of a sugar cookie candle burning. I love the aroma of apple pie fresh out of the oven, which for some reason I only bake at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the scent of cinnamon pine cones that are near the exit of my grocery store this time of year. And of course, the smell of coffee brewing on Christmas morning has its own delightful aroma as it fills the house in a way that it just doesn’t any other day. I could go on and on, but I think my favorite holiday smell comes from a long-standing family tradition. It’s not so much an aroma that fills the home but one I smell when it gets close to my lips. When the kids were little, I started putting ornament-shaped Coca-Colas and miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in their stockings. By the time they reached middle school and high school, these items had become less of a stocking stuffer and more of a required meal we ate together as a family while opening presents on Christmas morning. Even today as the kids are 27 and 24 years of age, these two items continue to make their way into the stockings. Scents are powerful. Science has proven that smells take a direct route through our brains to the parts that affect emotion and memory. Still, I am always amazed at how an ordinary day of shopping can take me immediately to Christmas morning through a simple snack choice. I’ll be running errands forgetting to grab lunch and settle for a bottle of Coke and a 2-pack of Reese’s cups as I check out. Sitting in my car enjoying the deliciousness, the thick coating of chocolate and peanut butter on my tongue, and the burn of Coca-Cola as I take way too big a gulp immediately reminds me of Christmas, and I’m happy. As Christ-followers we are meant to be this kind of fragrant aroma in the world. Being around us should, as the Apostle Paul so eloquently writes in 2 Corinthians 2:14, “spread everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.” But do we? Do our lives give off the fragrance of Jesus? Stop and think for a moment. Have you ever spent time with someone that just by being around them, made you want to know more about Jesus and why they love him the way they do? It’s not the person; it’s His Glory flowing through them to you. Oh, how I long to live each day like this. Unfortunately, I’m human, and that has a way of side-tracking me some days. Earlier this evening while talking with my husband, an attitude began to well up in me as he shared his viewpoint on something I directly asked him about. It wasn’t a major blow-up or anything, but let’s just say there was no “aroma” of Jesus in my tone and response. I hate these moments. It’s like that awful smell when you blow out a candle, just smoke, and no aroma. Thankfully, for those of us who follow Jesus, (the flame that ignites our aroma) never really goes out. There are days it may flicker a bit and some when it may seem to extinguish. But don’t worry; in his grace, Jesus always rekindles that flame and our fragrance begins to flow again revealing him to those around us. Just like the fragrant smells of the holiday season, Christ has endowed us with the ability to make him known simply by the fragrance our lives give off to those around us. Think about it. God has given you the power to point others to his son simply by the aroma your life gives off. What will your fragrance be this Christmas? For Your Reflection… I am ALWAYS amazed by the role God gives us broken human beings in bringing others to the knowledge of his son. This holiday season, may you remember, it’s not flashy words that point people to Jesus, it’s the fragrance of a life that lives with kindness and love that reveals him. So again, what will your fragrance be this Christmas? If it’s not great, ask Jesus for his love and grace to help re-ignite your flame to give off the sweet aroma of His glory.