Fort McCoy News December 12, 2014

Faith: What fragrance are you wearing?

Garrison Chaplain, Fort McCoy

"What fragrance are you wearing?"

I love to wear fragrances, so this is a question I am frequently asked.

Photo of Eweama

I am very sensitive to smell, so I have to keep the aroma around me fresh. After church one Sunday, a very nice lady told me that, when I passed by her, I smelled so fresh that she took a deep breath.

It was a good compliment that brought a big smile to my face. This made me wonder if people perceive the same in our personal relationships.

Have you ever wondered how you "smell" in your relationship with your loved ones? What type of fragrance do they perceive when you are there? Do you smell stinky to them, or do they take a deep breath of fresh air?

On July 4, 2006, just three months after I returned from spending 13 months in the Middle East, I left my Family again for six months to attend a course. Six months was a long time to be away, and I was concerned with how everyone would do. I was most concerned for our little kids, especially our first daughter and son who were just 3 and 2 years old at the time.

How would they deal with their little feelings? Would they miss "my fine, fine daddy," as they fondly refer to me? Would they remember me? Would the bonding we had these three months be lost by the time I returned?

Just before departing I did my usual "trash a few things, cut the grass and vacuum the house well before you go" routine. I had thrown out an empty cologne bottle. I later learned that shortly after my departure they had retrieved the bottle from the waste basket and put it in their toy box.

On the second day after my return from the course, as I was picking up my children's toys, I saw the empty bottle in their toy box. I was curious to know how it got there and what it was doing there.

My princess replied, "Daddy, your son saw it before my mummy threw away the trash, and said it smelled like daddy, and so we kept it, so that while we are playing we can smell daddy. Now you are back; we can throw it away."

Tears of pride filled my eyes; my heart was full of joy. On that day I felt deeply what it meant to be a real father. I picked up both of my kids in my arms and told them how proud I feel always to be their "fine, fine daddy."

The fragrance that they were used to smelling when they snuggled close in bed or when I carried them was all that they needed during my absence to know that I was really close by. As long as they had that empty bottle of cologne and smelled that fragrance, their daddy was not that far away.

I remember doing the same thing as a little boy when my mum or dad had been gone for a while. I would go into their bedroom to smell their clothes, and, at times, I would wear my father's inner shirt to bed so I could smell him. As Christians, we read in 2 Corinthians 2: 14-16, "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ — the fragrance of life."

This means God, in His physical absence, even uses us who believe in Him as his fragrance so that others come to know that He is. To those who are being saved, we are the fragrance of life.

To those who have a relationship with Christ, another believer's presence is a wonderful reminder of what God is doing. It is the same in our relationships in marriage or friendships.

We must be the fragrance of life in both our personal and professional life, to our Families and co-workers.

Is it not interesting how we all respond differently to the many fragrances that are sold? Some of my friends like floral scents, and others like spices.

When I was doing my residency in clinical pastoral education, I made my rounds on my assigned floor. One day one nurse literally told me not to wear my cologne around her because it reminded her of the man who had given her three children and then one day, four years earlier, had vanished without a trace.

It was not a pleasant experience for her, but the irony is that she was the first to compliment me the first day I wore that cologne. The fragrance that once brought her joy now became the smell and source of pain, despair and anguish.

What effort are you making to see that your relationship has the fragrance of life? What new insight have you sought to enhance the aroma of your relationships? What time have you invested in making sure your relationships smell fresh at all times?

Leaving a lasting fragrance in your relationships requires intentional effort, insight and time. Christ was very intentional in his relationships.

In my work as an Army chaplain, it often is difficult to convince a wife and husband of the need to sit down and talk with each other about their relationship, their hopes, and their dreams for as little as 15 minutes each day. A high-quality relationship or Family life takes time to plan, to share, and to do things together. Time together must be planned into the daily schedule in a relationship.

I am convinced that for any relationship to be satisfying, it cannot be given "left over" time. It needs "prime time."

Look at what Christ did with his friends. He gave his time for free. This prime-time principle agrees with the old adage, "The Family that prays together, plays together, stays together." And, this begins early in a relationship. Sharing in each other's interests and planning shared activities helps build togetherness fragrance.

One difficulty many couples experience today is that they live as "married singles." That is, they share fewer and fewer common interests and become more socially, intellectually, and emotionally distant from each other. This distance begins when the couple has not developed a realistic appreciation of each other as persons and valuing each other's contributions to the marriage even when it is not a financial contribution.

Many of us undermine the contributions of our spouses or significant others to the upkeep of the house because they are not the ones paying the bills. This is very wrong. It is a well-known fact that when couples practice positive expressions of appreciation and support, coping with stress-producing situations is less difficult.

Stress-producing conflicts in relationships, which experts attribute to lack of common friendships, are lessened when those in the relationship feel valued.

Situations like learning to accept each other's opposite-sex friends or same-sex friends, which requires sensitivity and understanding, become less difficult because there is no more jealousy since each person feels valued in the relationship. Christ called his disciples friends instead of servants.

Being just a good man or woman cannot leave a lasting fragrance in your relationship. I believe that for one to leave a lasting fragrance in a relationship one must wear the fragrance of life that is Christ Jesus, who is the true aroma of God. Tommy® will not do it. Paul Sebastian® will not do it. CK® will not do it. Only "CJ" will do.

To learn more about the ingredients of a lasting relationship, please read Ephesians 5:22-32.

(The Fort McCoy Religious Support Office (RSO) serves Soldiers, their Families, tenant units, and Department of Defense civilians who are stationed or serving at the installation. The RSO assists in ensuring the right of free exercise of religion for all military personnel. Contact the RSO at 608-388-3528.)