A couple of years ago, I was doing laundry (the chore that never ends) when I noticed a smell coming from the washer. I thought to myself, maybe I left the clothes in too long? Sometimes I feel like you have like 2.4 minutes to switch clothes in the summer heat before they start having that old stinky smell…you know the one right? So I added more detergent and ran the same clothes through again in an attempt to get rid of the odor. This time, hearing the buzzer, I quickly pulled the clothes out, only to still smell that smell. It was faint, but it was there. I realized that it was coming from the washer itself. EW! Troubleshooting now, I ran a load of just bleach water in hopes of eradicating the stink, unfortunately to no avail. The next day the smell was even worse! Come to find out, behind the wall of the washer, where I couldn’t see in my search for the source, there was a dead mouse! O. M. G. Thankfully my husband came to the rescue and rid our laundry room of the culprit and saved me from frustration and water wasting!

Recently this story returned to my mind during a conversation on how to have healthy relationships. I learned how, when an unmet expectation is answered in our heart with doubts about the character of another person instead of trust, resentment and even worse can begin to develop. The truth is, this resentment can go unchecked for years without being identified for what it is, but not without being noticed. Those places of hurt, when they are not surrendered or addressed, result in a rot that can be detected by the people around us. We can try to hide the resulting odor with perfumes of kindness or try to get rid of it by washing it away by holding your tongue. But the stench will remain as long as the hurt remains.

Here’s the thing. Once I knew the mouse was there, it was not easy to get rid of it. Yes, it was easy for my husband, (he’s a champion of a man) but I have zero desire to touch rodents, dead or alive. When we realize we have a hurt that can be connected to a certain person or event, it is not typically going to be an easy thing. Dealing will most likely lead to some sort of conflict. Not a fight per se, but at least a confession of a disagreement or disapproval, or at least tough questions. God’s desire for us is healthy connections with others. Love is His main game. He cares about the quality of the relationships we have and will always push us towards reconciliation versus avoidance.

Proverbs 13:5 reads “The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves.” That “false” thing that the righteous hate, may very well be avoiding the issue in our lives with our co-worker, family member, or friend, pretending things are fine when there is a dead mouse in our spirits with their name on it. I know I need to regularly take stock of what sort of smell is revealed through my words, actions, and attitudes. If you feel yourself consistently struggling with someone, most likely, you have a stench to deal with. God can for sure get rid of it, but a lot of the time, you are a part of the removal process.

Ask yourself, how do you smell today? Or better yet, ask someone you love and trust to help you answer that question.

Candace Cortez is the Youth Pastor at Koinonia Church. Any comments can be sent to: candace@kchanford.com.