Week of 5/29/2017
The aroma of…
- an odor arising from spices, plants, cooking, etc., especially an agreeable odor; fragrance.
- (of wines and spirits) the odor or bouquet.
- a pervasive characteristic or quality.
- a distinctive quality or atmosphere : flavor, the aroma of enjoyment.
For the most part, life as an introvert is lonely. Solitude is life-enhancing and emotionally beneficial, but as an antidote to a busy life, not as a daily existence of lifestyle.
Our nearest neighbors, growing up, were a mile away in each direction, all farms. My parents’ childhood farms were two of those, and my understanding is that no one in either family met until my parents did, in their early 20s. That’s how rural life in Vermont was.
Having guests or family visit our home was rare, so it was a special treat. My parents had little to no friends, so it usually was family from out of state. In my shy, ignorant and inexperienced state of mind, these cousins were exotically scary. But I loved and looked forward to those far-and-few in-between sojourns. They were respites to our daily quiescence in the boonies. We were socially disadvantaged.
Even throughout our school years, attending sports games, dances, and other outings were also rare. When I was old enough, and allowed, to spend the night with a friend or cousin in a neighboring city, I took every opportunity to do so. That is when I learned new things – like skipping school, and my taste for beer. It wasn’t long before I was smoking cigarettes. I knew where dad kept a stash of quarters for our Sunday tithes, from which I pilfered an occasional quarter. Cigarettes, then, were $.21 a pack.
Socially, I had not progressed. Teasing and false initiations into cliques were embarrassing and emotionally debilitating. I became even more isolated and painfully shy. It continued into adulthood.
The rare times I was invited to events, outings, or dates, I got so excited and nervous, that I wasn’t invited a second time. I was no social butterfly. I believe I really tried to do what I thought was all the right things, say all the cool things. When I began my first real job in my mid-20s, things got a little better. They kind of had to. I was around people everyday. I muddled through a few positions, and did well enough at others. There was never that one great job. In hindsight, during those early years, I think I would have sabotaged it because of a lackluster ambition and self-confidence.
One discovery during these trying times was my propensity toward helping those considered downtrodden, underdogs. I seemed to attract them. My first two marriages were the products of this feeling that I must help them onto a better path. I didn’t succeed. I didn’t even understand the path I was on. It took almost losing my own mind to finally bring me to the realization that I can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped.
It wasn’t until the end of my 2nd marriage, when I finally began to stand up for myself, that my confidence began to grow. I still struggled with conversations and relationships with anyone, especially with women. I trusted them the least – most probably a byproduct of the teasing in school. I considered my gender an enemy.
Understand, that on the outside, I think I appeared and performed normally. But that was in deep contrast to how I felt inside. Even as my 3rd marriage began to blossom, I avoided most opportunities to bond with any woman, even members of my new family. I didn’t know how to get past my deep-rooted mistrust.
One sister-in-law had been after me to start attending bible studies at the church she attended. I knew it would be a room-full of women, and we could potentially talk about sensitive issues. I kept putting it off. It was a terrifying prospect for me.
In December of 2012, a huge shift in the political environment of our country occurred, and something weighed heavily on my mind. There had to be a better way to fight a depression I couldn’t seem to shake than just getting through it. I got a hold of my sister-in-law and agreed to attend the next semester of bible studies – in January of 2013.
From the first moment, I was riddled with anxiety. I didn’t want to look anyone in the eye, afraid I’d get asked to say something. A few months later, I began attending church services on Sunday morning. For me, these were brave steps. At 58, I was slowly coming out of my shell.
So many ‘bits’ of progress took place. Some unsettling realizations came to light. Like how the faith I grew up with had actually ‘church-damaged’ me. How my view of the Bible and Jesus’ life up to that point was so terribly wrong and misguided. How I longed for so much more for my life. Each sermon pulled me into a budding sensation of belonging.
I took some more brave steps. I volunteered for a church ministry. I was baptized. A beautiful lady, a godly soul, took it upon herself to mentor me in my spiritual journey. She got in the water with me! Because of this lovely woman, I’m starting to trust women again. I’m praying more than ever before, though now I feel it’s never ever often enough. Then she left on a 5-year mission. I was on my own again. Just more prepared.
Most importantly, I’m trusting God and His Son, Jesus, on a level I never thought possible. I desperately listen for the Holy Spirit. Though I’ve not been privy to hear His voice, I know He’s guiding me.
I’m a sinner. My worldly body fails me every day. But prayer is bringing me closer to my Creator, which in turn brings me closer to my godly friends and to those in need. Yes, I’m still fighting for the downtrodden, the underdogs. Now…. I’m succeeding, one child of God at a time. Though I don’t personally witness any transformations or conversions, I know they’re happening. I sew some seeds, and ask God to answer my prayers.
- a distinctive quality or atmosphere : the aroma of prayer.
Pray. Love. Serve.