I’m convinced that there is almost nothing better—besides the smell of new leather or fresh breath—than the fragrance of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Chocolate chip cookies not only smell nice, but they also bring with them a sense of warmth and coziness that isn’t easily forgotten. They remind me of my grandmother, chilly nights by the fire and lots of love.
Oddly enough, these little cookies go through quite the journey before they become fragrant. It is this very journey that matures them into their edible goodness, much like pain has the ability to propel people into their own fragrant journey. While this process is often uncomfortable, it is nice to know that the Holy Spirit—much like a warm and comforting blanket or a reassuring hug—is there every step of the way.
The past couple years have been challenging for me. While I certainly celebrated the good and laughed many deep and wild laughs, I must acknowledge the tumultuous moments where I wanted to give up. My soul felt much like dough being kneaded. As it turns out, I didn’t like to be kneaded. I knew that I was fashioned by an excellent baker, but it didn’t speed up the process or remove the pain in its entirety. If it weren’t for these crucial moments, however, I truly wouldn’t be the same person. The Father knew this, and He kept kneading.
With the Holy Spirit by my side and Jesus understanding all of my weak moments, I became thankful for the health scares that proved to be nothing more than that, thankful for my first relationship and subsequent breakup that taught me many beautiful lessons about life and love, and thankful for the unexpected tensions in life that continually surfaced throughout the past two years.
This tension was mostly found within myself. I knew what I wanted, I knew what I was created for, but I was afraid to go for things. I was afraid to pursue my dreams without the backing of someone else. Ultimately, I was afraid of failure, and I didn’t realize how great God’s personal backing truly is.
We are personally endorsed, promoted and deeply loved by the Creator of the Universe, but I will save that thought for another day.
Failure is part of life.
Instead of failing on my own, however, I often aligned myself with others and willingly allowed their choices and failures to appear as my own. I took responsibility for others’ blunders, all the while wondering what I could have done differently to change what the person had said or done to hurt me.
I wanted to see the best in people, but I had failed to see the best in myself. It felt safer to hide behind someone else instead of making my own choices and being willing to stand on my own two feet.
One night this all changed.
I found myself single and, for what felt like the first time, facing some major life decisions on my own. This combination felt nearly paralyzing. Everything within me wanted to fall back to predetermined ways of coping, but those proved inadequate. I no longer fit the mold, because by God’s grace I had been placed inside what felt like the oven. There was so much prolonged heat with little release. I didn’t want to come out the same way I had gone in.
In His kindness, the Father kept reassuring me of how He created me; Jesus reminded me that He understood how I was feeling, and I often cried when I looked at His hands; and the Holy Spirit was the sweetest and most gentle Comforter to my broken heart. The heat was unbearable, but the love I experienced was precious. I learned more in that oven than I did in any previous season, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
I am still learning, but I came out of that journey more fragrant. Tight spaces, paired with heat, will do that to a person. When you come in close contact to Jesus, for any brief moment in time, He rubs off on you. His love is so aromatic and sweet that it can’t help but seep through you and onto others. In its simplicity, this is what love looks like. We were all thoughtfully created, molded, kneaded, fashioned, baked and formed to release the fragrance of this love.
All we need to do is say a simple “yes,” and Jesus does the rest. Regardless of the price, I want my heart to constantly say yes, because He is so worth it!
A little under a year ago, I went into the oven. Going in, I believed that boundaries were for weak people with problems. Coming out, however, I can see that boundaries are for interdependent people exchanging truth and intentionally building trust.
You see, if you are unaware of your own boundaries, it is hard to take them from a healthy individual or even give an honest yes or no. In the end, this whole experience gave me a precious gift: the power of choice. I am no longer held victim to people’s opinions, accusations or manipulation.
The truth is, I never was.
We were created to make choices. Now that I realize this gift, I can’t help but cry at its magnitude. Jesus chose me, yes, but now I get to truly answer in return with my whole heart, soul and mind in full agreement. Yes to the journey. This three-letter word never meant so much to me in all of my short life. I am thankful and incredibly blessed.
God is a magnificent and trustworthy baker, Jesus made the way for us to make it through the process and the Holy Spirit never leaves us, not even for a moment. Perhaps you too feel as though you are in a kneading or baking season. Remember that the Father clearly sees the end result, and things will work out together for good. When you remember this truth, in the midst of adversity, your scent naturally stirs up a hunger in others for more. Lean in for a moment and allow His fragrance to overwhelm your being.
I am not saying that the process is easy or painless, but I am confident that you will make it.
Remember, in this season, that you are so loved, valued and treasured by the King of the Universe.