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Peony blossoms overhanging the flagstone path brushed against my leg as I pushed the lawn mower to the front yard. Their sweet spicy scent permeated the air. I paused to inhale a deep breath. Daily cares drifted away with their pleasant fragrance.
Basking in the moment, I remembered 2 Corinthians 2:15 that says, "For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing." (NKJV)
As the world hurries passed us cutting us off in traffic, making ill-founded assumptions, or spewing unkind words, like Christ, under burden of death, God calls us to exude love.
I thought of my daughter, Bethany, who works long hours in the financial industry. Her pressure-filled job extends far beyond managing accounts. Often by the time she drives home at the end of the day tears trickle down her cheeks. All week, seated at her desk, she greets people stressed by life's circumstances: a gentleman trying to cope with a disabled wife, a customer, the victim of identity theft, an adult child assisting an aging parent, a man settling the accounts of his brother who committed suicide.
Laying aside her own feelings, she suggests ways to help them accomplish the business they need to take care of. Like my peonies, bumped and bruised, she releases a fragrance through her words and responses. She doesn't view a person as a nameless account number; rather she encourages and comforts them while resolving their financial issues.
Families in crisis, trying to manage circumstances they never imagined or expected to encounter. In the midst of their pain and frustration, they fire angry words at the young woman behind the desk. Following Christ's example Bethany takes a deep breath, and with a bright smile, and a whole lot of patience offers kind words like, "I'm here to help. We'll get this problem resolved. Let's see what we can do to complete these forms," or "I'm sorry about your brother."
Most of the time her customers are thankful for her help dealing with life's unexpected challenges. Occasionally, she meets people she can never seem to satisfy. Either way, she leaves her customers with a lasting impression.
To all who know her, including her mom, my daughter in Christ-like fashion shows how to treat those around us.
The next time I bump into a neighbor by the mailbox, a member of our church congregation, a fellow shopper at the grocery store, or even one of my own family members, I hope they don't stumble upon the nauseas odor of skunk cabbage. Rather, I hope they leave our encounter with their head lifted high, their shoulders relaxed, and their spirit refreshed, like they've breathed a perfume as sweet and delightful to the senses as a garden fresh bouquet of peonies.
© 2016 Kathleen Kohler