Thursday, February 26, 2015

What's that smell? Present day reactions that stem from past life experiences?

A couple of days ago, I smelled something.

Something foul.  Briefly looked around.  Nothing.

Later on, I smelled it again.  Told Jason about it. He also smelled it.

We took out the trash.  Smell remained.

The next night, we still smelled it.

Looked through the fridge, the pantry, checked our shoes for gross things.

Finally, Jason exclaimed: "Ah ha!!  Found it!"

He had traced the smell and one lone fruit fly up to the top of the fridge where there was a piece of tilapia that had been there for… who knows how long.  Honestly, probably only a couple of days.

It started coming back to me.

Last week I made 4x the recipe of Chili - to have on hand and to give to friends.  In addition, I had just bought another huge 4lb bag of tilapia to put in the freezer.

In order to make room for these items, I had to completely re-arrange our little freezer.

Can I just say that years of packing for weeks in a carry-on have made me an excellent space saver and packer?  I also excel at Tetris ;-)

In the process of re-arranging, this little piece of tilapia must have gotten pushed back on the top of the fridge, and never got put back in.

Regardless of how it got there, Jason was more than exuberant that we had found the source of the smell.  At dinner (go figure, we were having tilapia, no joke), he shared his ideas on how this fish on the top of the fridge could become a blog post.

So, in his honor, I decided to write this post - taking his thoughts, mixed with my own, all initiated by the fish on the fridge.

Here's the analogy. Take it as far as you want.  Like all analogies it eventually breaks down.

The freezer is like our life.
The fish on the fridge represents major life change or transition.
The new 4lb bag of tilapia represents new life experiences.
The chili represents… uh, yeah, see…it's breaking down already…let's leave the chili out of it.

The moral of the fish on the fridge story is that while there are seasons when we need to clean out our life in a variety of ways, if we de-clutter too quickly, there may be experiences that are overlooked and while seemingly not a part of our life anymore, they can still cause a major stink sometimes.

Further Explanation for those who dare to follow this analogy any further:
Cleaning out various parts of my life might mean physically giving some of my material possessions away.  It could mean spiritually refreshing myself in God's grace after living under the law for too long.

Cleaning out could involve emotionally digging into the past to see how my (false) beliefs about events and circumstances affect my current realities and responses to situations.

Focusing on the emotions part for now: If I don't process my major life changes, there will be a distorted perspective through which to view and handle new experiences, which can possibly result in a stinky reaction or response.

So cleaning out, through processing, and debriefing, and surrendering, is necessary.

All major life changes have an impact on who we are today.  Sometimes our past plays a huge role in our positive outlook on life.  Sometimes, it contributes to a latent frustration through which we filter our experiences, whether or not they are similar to the past experiences or something totally new.

Many times, it takes a hint of a stench for us to realize there is something not quite right.  Initially, we can ignore the smell.  But there is an unsettling feeling inside of us, knowing it's there.  We can remove surface emotions (the trash), but that is only a cover, because it's not the real problem.  The stench will continue to grow.  Until we find the source of it, it will increasingly infiltrate our every being (and room in the house).

Let me make this analogy more personal.

Recently, I have reacted to some things (aka: my husband), in some not very pleasant ways.  Shocking, I know.  This is the stench that has come to the surface.  It has grown to the point where it is something I want to deal with.

By God's grace and the help of mentors, I have started working through some past life changes and transitions.  Unpacking, de-cluttering, processing.  Seeing what's behind other things.

Realizing there are deep core beliefs that have been formed by some of my life's transitions.  These core beliefs have a major impact on how I view the world and how I respond to situations today.

Goodness gracious, no wonder the odor is getting so bad.  Some of this stuff has been there a long time!

I wish that the deep stuff in my life was as easy to get rid of as a fish on the top of a fridge.

It's not.

It's hard.  Really hard.

But, to end on a positive note…

I will say that recently (two days ago), I was able to see a tiny bit of fruit of this processing.  A situation arose and instead of viewing it through my mis-proportioned expectations, I could see just a tad more clearly into reality.  I could then respond just a tad more appropriately than I might have a couple weeks ago.  Breakthrough.  Seriously.  It was big, for me.

And as I walked the dogs around the block I felt a little bit lighter.

I can see that God is giving me grace to re-train my mind and strength to examine by beliefs in certain areas to the point where I can apply a realistic filter to situations instead of the negative or frustrating one that I have been using for so long.

It is hard.

But, it is good.

It is a process and will take time.  Maybe lots of time.

But, it is worth it.

"If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast." ~ Psalm 139: 9-10

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