On the Side - April 2017
Two Sides of the Orange
Carol Mason Shrader
Last week my children and I went to Mexico to work alongside three generations of my family who serve there full-time (and have for more than 40 years!). In the midst of one of our backyard Bible clubs, I took a deep breath and immediately began looking for the orange grove that I just knew had to be nearby. The smell of orange blossoms is one of my most favorite smells from our years living in the Arizona desert -- so sweet, so breathtakingly beautiful.
My dear aunt nodded in agreement as she pointed to the orange grove beyond the property and we both inhaled deeply.
Two days later, I again encountered a smell that also took my breath – but this time in a nostril-burning, toxic manner.
“What IS that smell?” I coughed out to my cousin as we stood watching his son play soccer (or Futbol in Mexico). I expected him to tell me that there was a manure-storing facility across the street. Although the smell was completely unfamiliar and unrecognizable to me.
“Oh, that is the orange juice plant behind us,” Davin explained. “They squeeze the oranges, then leave the pulp and peels to rot. They smell.”
Oh my gracious that was the understatement of the year. I have never felt such pain through smell in my entire life. It literally hurt to breath in through my nose. I tried to mouth-breath for the duration of the game but even that brought tears to my eyes. It was all I could do to stand and cheer for young Benjamin.
And then it hit me – the same tree that produced the sweet aroma of orange blossoms is also responsible for the smell that was so horrid, so awful, so nose-numbing.
Did you get that? The exact same tree that gives us the orange – the one that overwhelms our senses through the sweet smell of orange blossoms and the mouth-watering goodness of a juicy orange – is also responsible for the absolute horrid stench of rotting orange pulp and skin.
Oh there is some convicting analogies in that, my friends.
I sit here typing fully ready to discuss how the practice of medicine is so much like the orange tree – producing at once beautiful aromas, mouth-watering goodness, and acrid, nostril-burning stench. I want to point out how lives are saved even as our husbands are exhausted, burned-out and over-worked. I want to give a couple pages of examples...
But even as I rest my fingers on the home row keys, I feel that familiar God-nudge in my heart that says “No, Carol, that was not my point.” Sigh.
So here I am typing a statement that convicts me to my toes. But trust me, it is the one resonating in my head all morning. One I really wanted to ignore. As a medical wife, I often am so like the orange tree.
Oh I can be sweet. I can praise my man for the way he provides for our family. I can praise him for the research trips I am privileged to accompany him on. I can praise him for the life-changing research he is doing. I can be a life-giving aroma for him with my words as well as my attitude.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t often take long for my peel to rot and become a stench. Because later, (days later during a good week, minutes later during a bad one), I can berate him for missing our daughter’s softball game. I can give him a cold shoulder because he was late for dinner. I can whine that his hours are so long. I can burn his nostrils with the foul smell of ingratitude and discontent.
Ladies, please tell me I am not alone. Today – with the stench of rotting orange peels still in my memory – I want to commit to do better, to try harder, to be a pleasing aroma.
“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?” - 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 (NIV)
“Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” - John 12:3 (NIV)
Can we fill our homes with the fragrance of Jesus? I long for the sweet smell of his grace to permeate my being and spread out throughout my home and to those around me.
The process must be intentional. Our human nature says that sitting at the softball field (Insert your children’s hobbies here) alone warrants whining, warrants a pity party or two. But a pity-party leads to discontent and oh how the smell of discontent is not life-giving.
Even when it feels justified, improper disposal of our pity leads to rotting fruit in our relationships. Get rid of it.
My prayer for you this month is that as spring bursts forth in your area, you will breath in deeply and be reminded to fill your home with the sweet fragrance of life-giving grace to our men!
Carol Mason Shrader
Carol Mason Shrader lives in Mississippi where the sweet aroma of Magnolia blossoms makes her smile – and will serve as a great reminder to spread sweet perfume and not stench in her home with her husband Wade, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Batson Children’s Hospital of Mississippi and their four children – Benjamin, Mason, Claire (19 year old tripelts) and Cate (11).