December 16, 2009
I have been thinking all day. It is my blessing and my curse. So today I have been thinking about Amy, Charlie, and Ellie and their dilemmas. If I were them, what would I do? I am have also been thinking about Gerry, Harry, Irene, Jackie, Kate, and Lawrence. It is not hard for me to see that all of them are at various points outside the lines of truth. I have spent the day putting myself in their place, and trying to reframe my way back within the lines of truth. I have been all over tarnation and I think I am at a point I just want someone to "TELL ME WHAT TO DO!"
Let's take the example of Charlie. "Charlie, 8, has just been invited to join a club made up of boys he has been wanting to be friends with. When he asks whether his best friend, David, can be included, the club leaders tell him that they would ask David if he didn't smell so bad. What should Charlie do?"
If I were Charlie (although how we might expect an 8 year old to think this through is beyond me) first I would ask myself…does David indeed smell bad? Let's say, no David never smells bad. I think the other boys are just using that as an excuse to be exclusive. I don't want to be part of a group that excludes others for no just cause, so I now have a couple of options. I can just quietly decline their invitation. This keeps my conscience clear, but it also means David and I may end up socially deficient. I can try reasoning with the group, hoping to persuade the group to see that David does indeed not smell, and that there is nothing positive to be gained by excluding him. Who knows, perhaps David has a trampoline in his backyard and none of the rest of us do. The group may respond positively, or the group may respond, "you are weird, never mind about joining, go away." Or they may restate their original position and leave it at that.
So, what if David really does smell bad, or at least smells bad at times. Maybe he is experiencing early adolescence and has not learned that adults must bathe every day in order to smell well, or good, or at least not at all. Or maybe his Mom uses some exotic laundry detergent that has an aroma that nobody likes. Or maybe David has some chemical imbalance that causes him to smell bad. What to do! As a friend, do I have a responsibility to be honest with David and give him a chance to explain his smelling problem? Scott Peck in the "Road Less Traveled" states that one aspect of love (defined as: the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth) is the Risk of Confrontation. Peck goes on to point out that whenever we confront someone we are in essence saying to that person, "you are wrong; I am right." So loving requires stringent examination of one's wisdom and the motives behind this need to assume leadership. If our roles were reversed and David informed me that I smelled bad, I would feel embarrassed, awkward, and want to run away from the situation. Hard to say whether I would now alienate myself from David as well as others…or be able to look honestly and constructively at resolving my smelling problem. If I am 8 and my Mom does all my laundry, I may not have a clue how to solve the laundry detergent problem.
In case you have not guessed, I still have no clue how to approach this problem. SOMEONE JUST TELL ME WHAT TO DO!
So, now two true stories about my life…one about smelling bad…one about feeling left out.
"Mom…her hair smells bad."
My mother worked in Primary most of the years I was growing up. This was when Primary was held on a weekday afternoon. She was usually in the Primary presidency, so would go around and pick up various people for primary. I was probably about 6 years old at the time. I would sit in the back seat, and we would stop and pick up an older sister who lived on 17th East. Every week I had to brace myself. She would get in the car, and the smell from her hair would start to permeate the cabin. I don't know what it was…some special hairspray she used, or just had a perm, or what. But I would almost start to feel nauseated by the smell of her hair. I would lean up to my mom's ear in the front seat and say "Mom, her hair smells bad." I am sure my mom was thoroughly embarrassed. I would pinch my nose and cover my mouth. But the 10-minute drive to Primary became a trial in my young life.
I was the only girl in a neighborhood of boys. It worked out okay while we were young. I could play cowboys and Indians like any tomboy. But being a part of the group became trickier as we approached adolescence. When we were in 6th grade, Clinton Allred who lived at the end of the street had a boy-girl party. I was not invited. I watched my friends walk up the street to the party. I felt very left out. Clinton and I had played together our whole lives. We had been together in the "Sword in the Stone Club" and been in our own "Beetles" rockband. I could not understand why now I was on the outs. Was I not pretty enough? Not one of the new popular kids? I cried. But life went on. We each made new friends and found new groups to belong to.
How do I integrate these life experiences in my decision about David and Charlie?
Last, I started to think about the truth model. Well what are the true principles of smell? Does God smell bad, good, or not at all? Personally, for me God either has no smell or smells good. Are there bad smells in heaven? Do skunks smell in heaven? But what if smell is objective…some people love the smell of coffee, I do not.
Maybe I just need to keep reading the book. Hopefully the author has more to say.