“Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.”
I recall a dear friend reminding me of this at a time when I was going through a dark place in my life. One of those moments when even my faith in God was being tested.
Over many years, I had been trained to use the cop-out ‘Fake it till you make it’ method in these moments. This time, even that didn’t hold enough strength to push me through the blackness and into the light.
It’s true what they say; everything seems clearer in the morning.
Trust is built in very small moments, and I had thought there was enough of those moments stored up to cash in at times like these. I had chosen to be vulnerable to others and trust them to keep my imperfections within our friendship. I felt safe in the knowledge that my story was just that: ‘mine’.
The reality of losing trust becomes a blow to your integrity and ability to stand with head held high, showing a calm demeanour and a forgiving heart.
Suddenly you are faced with choices. Opt out and pretend that all is fine without showing or feeling anything, or exercise flat out stubbornness to go it alone and show the world how hard and bold you are.
The truth is that we are all wired for connection. All of us, whether we believe or acknowledge it, need other people, need to interact, need to feel, and need to belong.
At this time of my life, I was still learning the meaning of who I was and, more importantly, who I was becoming.
We all see life through different lenses, different emotions, and differing learned behaviours. Our responses take us through many and varied methods and aspects of understanding and coping.
Mine was a default place of low self-confidence, low self-worth and a blurred vision of truth and honesty. I just became cold and aloof, silent in my unbelief in myself and my faith.
All these stages just bring you to the same damning place of isolation and of feeling alone.
I knew God, I knew and loved His Word; I fellowshipped with like-minded Christians who, like me, had demonstrated faith daily.
We sometimes assume that feeling sorry and repenting are the same thing. They’re not.
‘Sorry’ is an adjective that can sometimes describe many feelings and actions. Over my life, I have heard this said so many times and on so many levels. It can be used as a phrase carelessly thrown about by people who want to lessen their guilt or as a sense of duty or expectation. It is not repentance and has no power.
‘Repentance’ means a sincere turning away, in both the mind and heart and behaviour, from self to God. It involves a change of mind that leads to action – the turning away from a sinful course, and towards God. Repentance is a doing word, a verb with power. I like to think about “Repentance” as doing an “about-face”. Imagine you’re walking one way, then you stop, turn around, and start walking in the opposite direction to which you were previously walking – that’s repentance.
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
On the day where this post started, I not only needed to put repentance into action by prayer, but I also needed to acknowledge the magnificence of all God’s Creation.
What better way to do both than walk?
The walk that day saved me.
It set for me the precedence of managing my mindfulness, my inner being, my faith and my limitations. My friends’ words had taken root and became my escape from self-deprecation.
I didn’t say I was sorry, I tearfully repented and turned away from the building resentment and anguish in my heart and mind, and remembered the grace received at the cross given to me forever.
I needed to be reminded that there is power in separating yourself in moments of doubt, loneliness and sadness. To take notice of the real things, the here and now, the beauty of the world around me, the created beauty of God demonstrated in nature.
Have you ever stopped to look and smell the roses?
The wonder of each bloom, each petal, each stigma, each ovary, each filament, each stem – all created in perfect symmetry, colour, and perfume. The bud of birth which opens to a hidden inner beauty that is to be admired and revered. For me the most amazing part of the rose is the thorn, there to protect and keep the life of this flower safe to exist. The thorn reminds me of the emotions that are there to bring you to a halt, and to protect yourself spiritually.
God has perfected every living thing: plants, animals, earth, sea, skies and of course us, his children. He gave us our senses – smell, touch, vision, hearing, and taste for a purpose: to use to savour and understand the world in which we live.
Today, I remembered my friend and her advice to stop and see the goodness of my life. I wasn’t in a dark place; I wasn’t struggling with self-doubt, guilt, shame or hurt; I was simply walking through a park, breathing in the early morning air, listening to the birds and their spring mating calls.
Today, stopping to smell the roses was my Sabbath time, my pause to re-connect with my Father, speak with him and thank him for being patient and listening to my rantings. For showing me his Grace and love through the dark times and these good times alike.
God is constant, never changing, always there, just a breath away.
Today, my friend, stop and smell the roses.
Make it your time to pause, reflect and bathe in his beauty.