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The Fragrance of Forgiveness


Has there ever been a time in your life when a certain scent wafts past you and it stops you in your tracks? Like catching a whiff of the perfume your aunt used to wear or the aftershave that your grandpa once wore. Fragrance's that you haven't smelled since childhood. Aroma's from bygone years. Yet, when you catch that scent it takes you back in time, bringing a smile to your face and tears to your eyes.

Scent is a powerful memory-maker.

Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains.

—Diane Ackerman

That is one of the reasons I planted Monarda, also known as Bee Balm, in my garden. Yes. It draws butterflies, which I love, but, Bee Balm also grows wild along the creeks and little tributaries in my home state of Pennsylvania. Each time I rub a leaf between my fingers and lift them to my nose, I am transported back to the creek beds on adventures with my Grandpa and Grandma Simey.

Such sweet memories.

For some, however, the adverse effect happens. Certain smells are a trigger to pain-filled memories.

What happened to us in the past can have a huge impact on how we live today. We who have had troubled memories are faced with a choice. We can cling to bitterness or anger, as I once did, or we can forgive the past.

Mark Twain so eloquently put it this way,

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.

When we are crushed by another our first thought is retribution. Not forgiveness. Forgiveness is hard.

So often, we think that to forgive is to let the one who harmed us go free. But, what forgiveness really does is it sets us free. We are no longer bound by what happened in the past.

Forgiveness doesn't excuse their behavior. Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart. —Beyond Ordinary

In choosing to forgive, our brokenness can be a sweet aroma freshening the air for those still choking on painful memories that have putrefied.

We cannot change the past. But, we can choose today to be the aroma of Christ in our world. A world that so desperately needs to experience the fragrance of forgiveness. The sweet scent of hope. 

It's exactly what Jesus did when he said, "Father forgive them. They don't know what they are doing." 

Luke 23:34

Whether we are blessed with blissful memories or bitter, we need to ask ourselves, what kind of fragrance do we hope to leave in people's memories that we rub shoulders with every day?

Behave so the aroma of your actions may enhance the general sweetness of the atmosphere.

—Henry David Thoreau

Lord, may we choose today to be a fragrance of forgiveness. An aroma of hope. And the sweet scent of Jesus' peace as we make our way in this world. Amen.

In a turbulent world where people are perishing… we are the sweet aroma of Christ.

—2nd Corinthians 2:15 

Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. —Tony Robbins

Choose Him


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  • Julie


    I’m turning 62 this year. I can hardly believe it myself. But, I’ve decided that I no longer want to live comfortably. I want to live with a spirit of adventure like I had in the past. To be unafraid of what’s new or different. I want to remain so open to the Spirit of the living God that his love compels me to go wherever he leads me.
  • LuAnn


    I am passionate about people leaning into all that Jesus is. You. Me. Us. Journeying together with God. This is my greatest blessing. And now that my kiddos are out on their own, I’m learning to navigate my new normal. And I am finding there is life after little ones and teens after all!
  • Emilie


    I am currently finishing my degree in relational communications and plan to graduate in the spring of 2020!! I am thankful I have had time to grow, heal, appreciate a slower pace of living, and to invest more time into relationships with family, friends, and God. Through this process I am learning what I want to prioritize in my life and figuring out ways to make that happen. Most of all, I am figuring out that life is all about process, taking steps closer to where I want to be and celebrating the little victories but also accepting that there will be setbacks and disappointments along the way.
  • Sally


    Sally Cranham is a singer and writer from the UK. She uses biblical narrative and her own experience to write deeply into the heart of the human condition. She currently works as a volunteer for SourceMN as their Arts Outreach Coordinator and has lived as a Residential Volunteer at Source’s anti-trafficking transitional annex alongside women who have come out of the life of prostitution.
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