What’s that Smell?!

Last Sunday, we spent the morning like any other. I made breakfast and got the kids ready for church. I ironed clothes, fixed hair and actually put on some makeup. We weren’t even running late. It was basically a Sunday morning miracle.

Our drive to church takes us about twenty- five minutes on two lane roads. We pass wheat fields and cattle and pasture land… and we occasionally get stuck driving slow behind a piece of farm equipment.

With about 5 minutes left of our drive, we found our wheels traveling across a “trail” left by a cattle truck. If you don’t speak Southern, we drove across a giant pile of “stinkies.” If you don’t speak toddler… then you’ll just have to use your imagination.

The car was filled with the stench. My daughter accused my son of the smell and my son accused my husband. We all gagged. We all laughed. And then we forgot about it.

One of the last free spots when we pulled into the church parking lot was located at the back of the property. My husband pulled in, turned off the van, and we all climbed out.

It was as if the car had a green fog around it. Oh my goodness, friends. It was TERRIBLE. Just… no… really… it was so bad. We hadn’t just driven across the smell. We had brought it with us.

As other church goers pulled up nearby and started to climb out of their cars, I couldn’t help but grab our stuff quickly and put as much distance between us and our car as possible. All while questioning loudly, “What is that TERRIBLE smell?! I wonder where it is coming from!!” Hoping that no one would realize it was coming from our vehicle.

We made our way inside, and shook the greeter’s hand. We dropped our kids off in their classes and went into worship.

But I couldn’t help but think about the similarity between our stinky van and our often stinky lives.

We clean ourselves up and make sure that people only ever know about the best parts of us. We photoshop our struggles and airbrush our flaws. We fix our hair and put on makeup, and brag about how real we are. But when it comes down to it, many of us would rather pretend that the stench is coming from somewhere else… anywhere else.

We want as much distance between us and our mess as possible.

Here is some good news though – God knows that we all struggle. He knows that there are times when we mess up and go right through it. He doesn’t need us to pretend that it isn’t us that stinks. He doesn’t need us to clean up ourselves before we come before Him. Just like driving a stinky van to church, he wants us to bring our mess right before His throne – Because He can handle it. He isn’t offended by it.

As a matter of fact, in Scripture He gives us a perfect example of how he runs to us – mess and all.

In Luke 15:11-32, Jesus tells a story about a certain young man who asked for his inheritance from his father while his father was still alive. The father gave freely, and the son went and wasted it on insensible living. He found himself working for a pig farmer and tending to the pigs. The son became so desperate, that he considered eating the pig’s food, and then realized that he would be much better off working as a servant in his father’s house. So, he began the long journey home. Scripture explains that while he was still a long ways off, the father saw him, ran to him, and embraced him. The father didn’t require the son to become a servant, but restored him to the position that he was in before he left home. He honored and blessed his son who once was lost, but had returned home.

Can you imagine the dialogue that the son had as he walked home? Gosh I’m a mess. What will dad think of me? But here’s the cool thing about his journey home. While it might seem like the journey back to God is just as long as it was away from Him – it is not! Because the Father runs to meet us. He embraces us in our stink. He loves us in our mess. He isn’t changed by our circumstances or what we have brought with us.

But we are always changed by His presence.

What’s that smell? Well, friend, sometimes it’s us, but it’s always okay.


  • Haley says:

    Thank you! Just yesterday my husband and I had our own trail of stinkies- LITERALLY! I went to go get my daughter from a nap (which she didn’t take, btw) to find that she had pooped, taken off her diaper, and walked it all over her room and smeared it on things! We both got really upset (this isn’t the first time) and came down pretty hard on her. We were all crying, from frustration or confusion or both. It was not good. But we got it cleaned up (thank goodness for the carpet cleaner my parents surprised us with last Christmas!), and got her to sleep, as the emotions of it all really took it out of her. We then talked as parents for more positive ways to deal with the situation and how we can approach parenting in these situations with more love. When she woke up, we all gave lots of hugs and kisses and went mini-golfing. I truly believe that little children are our prime example of Christ-like forgiveness. I am grateful for that, since we are still just beginning our parenting journey.

  • Hillary says:

    I’m very happy to have discovered this blog. I’ve felt lately like all I do is mess my life up and hurt people I love. I needed this reminder. You’ve made my day and life better. Keep sharing God’s love, you do it so well.

  • Summer says:

    Oh my goodness. This is so spot on! Thank you for writing this stinky, smelly, beautiful post! My heart needed to know that my stink can be made beautiful on this day. Some days it’s easier to remember than others, so thank you for obeying God’s call to post His word for me today! Truly blessed. Hugs from Seattle!

  • Jenni P says:

    I needed to read this today! We’re going through some messes in our home caused by our neighbors and it’s been disheartening to think that people think of us as dirty when we aren’t.

  • Cathy says:

    Oh, Becky, there you go again preaching exactly what I need to hear WHEN I need to hear it!! Thank you so much for the gentle and loving reminder that I just need to come. Nothing more, nothing less, just come! His arms are open and waiting!

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