I know why some folks find me hard to be around. I stink of death.
I reek – of divorce, cancer, anxiety, mental illness, shame, guilt, prejudice and indifference, amongst other things. I carry traces of all the evils I go into war against every day, for myself, and for my family, and standing with folks I love, folks who don’t feel strong enough to fight these things alone.
We call them evils. I’ve called them evils. We behave as if they are anomalies, abnormalities, things that go wrong with us. But this is a simplification. These things are evils, but they are also a part of life, a part of being human. Whenever we talk about and behave toward these things as if they were flaws and failures, we cause the people who experience them to feel as though they are flawed, as though they have failed too.
This is why we need to be very careful how we use the word sin.
Health, wealth and success have their own distinctive scent. This is why we’re all so attracted to healthy, wealthy and successful people. However, I know I don’t carry the sweet scent of success or wealth, so no wonder some of you find me hard to be around. Unless, that is, you’ve spent time with the fear and the failure too, and you’ve become accustomed like me to the cloying atmosphere of all the things which come to steal, kill and destroy us.
And you find yourself made stronger by those things, as I have, because you realise they are all shadows and lies.
I find myself drawn to the scent of death. Not because I like it, but because I’ve seen the inside of a tomb, a hole in the ground lying open before a stone with my name on it. And I hear them – the ones wandering amongst the tombstones, dazed and confused. I have to go back. I have to go back.
So if my scent, my way of speaking repels you, I’m sorry. If you don’t recognize my dialect, the rank stench of death that lingers on my armour, the tint of blood on my sword, it may well be I didn’t come for you. To the rest, I say yes, I know, and me too. I’m coming back for you.by