A thought from Pastor Rick Enloe

While on sabbatical, I am reading some of my journal entries from the past. Allow me to share the memory of using the same stick of deodorant for a year!

I was originally drawn to the bright green 'roll-on' for its enthusiastic promise of a fresh fragrant shower experience. It claimed to 'glide on clear' and was 'body heat activated.'

The directions were simple and easy to understand: "apply to underarms only." I could use the product without worry unless-it warned-a rash or irritation occurred.

No rash, as it turns out, but I did end up irritated!

I began to notice, after months of daily use, that the deodorant stick continued to appear brand new. The chalky white mini-monolith seemed to be miraculously regenerating itself. It never changed shape or color, standing at attention on the bathroom counter. It appeared to be mocking the toothpaste tube, slowly dying and curling up from the end. I had apparently discovered the fountain of youth in the perspiration relief category. 

While I found this product's longevity amazing, I did wonder how the company could maintain profitability without any return business. This seemed like the last stick of deodorant I would ever purchase.

I did, however, notice that the effect seemed more pro-perspirant than antiperspirant. The chalky stick had zero deodorizing effect on my native ambiance. It wasn't working. I felt confident in my application technique, but something was apparently wrong with the active ingredients.

The mystery unraveled itself early one morning when, upon close inspection under intense lighting, I found a nearly invisible plastic film protecting the top of the deodorant stick. It's known as a tamper guard. After tearing the tamper guard off and making contact with the target area, the process reversed itself. Now, an effective shower fresh deodorizer was at work, at the expense of its former everlasting feature.

Morning after morning I had been slapping away at my underarms, never engaging the active ingredients. I had been going through the motions without making contact.

I had unwittingly found truth in a non-aerosol package. A personal hygiene parable illustrates the downside of maintaining a protected and isolated life.

It does seem easier to leave our personal tamper-proof seals on, keeping our distance and not getting used by the people we make contact with. For instance, when somebody we know experiences profound loss, the urge to send them a note and quote something motivational tends to push back the instinct to reach out in a more personal way. Life is crazy enough, right? Why not keep a safe, tamper proof distance? 

It turns out to be very efficient and perfectly ineffective. There is no replacement for actual time spent together, hugs, conversations, and freshly baked cookies. 

As it turns out, when we are willing to strip off our tamper protection and make real contact with others who need friendship and help, we might well get depleted, but in the process, we can create something new out of a potentially stinking situation.

Find your people. In community, we live out the fragrant life that God calls us to.