The Stench

You know what I love?

I love when you’re watching or reading something for the 100th time, and then all of a sudden something “clicks” and it’s as though you’re seeing it brand new, with fresh eyes.

That happened to me today.

At church.

We were reading the Lazaraus story, where Jesus raises Lauzarus from the tomb after he had been dead for four days.

Now. I’m going to be really honest. Ugly honest.

I kind of rolled my eyes when I saw that this was the reading today. I mean, it’s longgggg, I was hungry, and basically, I’ve heard this story over and over again, I tend to glaze over and try and count the thread count on my jeans.

Or scrutinize my cuticle beds with sheer horror.


But today, half-listening to the reading, I was struck by something I had never really paid much attention to in the story:

When Martha, Lazarus’ sister, tells Jesus that He’s too late to save him, she says, “Lord, by now there will be a stench.” Jn 11: 1-45


Now, I’m a “smell person.” I love candles, air freshness, perfume, freshly baked cookies. I mean, I lived for a Bath & Body Works “Warm Vanilla Sugar” hand cream back in the day.

A stench? No ma’am.


And maybe that phrase stuck out to me today because I pushed the envelope and had used dry shampoo for two consecutive days and was self conscious of smelling like a troll…

But that word, stench…well, it lingered with me…


See what I did there?? 😉


But really, it got me thinking.

Now, this story obviously hits home with me for obvious reasons that I won’t bore you with. Lazarus was dead. was nearly dead at 78 pounds with my anorexia. Jesus restored Lazarus’s life. Jesus restored my life.

You get it.

But here’s the thing that I hadn’t really considered about this whole thing.

The stench.

And for a scentfully-inclined young lady, I have some thoughts.

There is definitely an odor that accompanies death. It assaults you. And much like actual physical death, there is an offensive stench that accompanies spiritual death too.

When I was “dead” in my anorexia, my stench could be smelled a mile away. Aside from the obvious skeletal body and having my hair fall out, there were also things like, isolating myself. Being angry with a micro-short fuse. Lying. Manipulating. Outbursts of venomous speech. You name it.

It was ugly. It “smelled bad.” It was the stench of death.

But the thing about the story is that Jesus worked through the stench. Four days worth of stench. He knew what He was getting Himself into.

And so too, with me.

There was nothing that I had or thought or was carrying that Jesus couldn’t handle.

Hearing this story today, even though it’s an “oldie,” it really does give me a lot of hope. That nothing is ever too far gone.

Four days is a long time.

I can tell you that with certainty after my mom’s stroke. Four days can feel like an eternity.

But four days is a long time, for a) the stench to develop, and b) for people to grieve. To be risen from the grave after that amount of time, it just reminds us that God is fully in control. And will not be deterred by the stench we give off in our state of death.


He’s greater than that.

All this talk of stenches and odors has made me rethink my dry shampoo situation. I’m starting to get anxiety hives. I think it’s time for me to go take a real shower.

Until next time…

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275 thoughts on “The Stench

  1. Thank you for being so open and honest about your struggles, and with your relationship with Jesus. God absolutely uses our brokenness for His glory. One of my favorite verses is from 2 Corinthians 2:15 “For we are a pleasing fragrance of Christ to God…” Life-giving words are sweet to those looking for them.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I am so glad that our Lord glad has brought back from “death”. Our world needs more women like you who are radiant inside and out. One thing I can tell in looking at the two pictures of you side by side is there is a very clear difference in your eyes. The current you looks so much more alive, and vibrant, just by your eyes alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh my gosh Jonathon, thank you so much. Yeah, the comparison side by side really shows the dead and alive me. I am just so grateful for the second chance at life! Thanks for your incredibly kind words. big hugs to you xo


      1. Incidentally, I know exactly what you mean about a verse in scripture “clicks” all of a sudden. For me, it came after my Autism diagnosis. I wondered why I was born on the spectrum , but then I came to the story in the Gospel of John, Chapter 9, in which Jesus heals the man born blind at the Pool of Siloam, and the disciples start by asking him the question of if it was because of his sin or his parents sin that the man was born that way. The response of Jesus has come out all the more to me,

        “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “But this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him…”

        That verse alone is all the reason I have hope that their is a divine plan for what every conditions, maladies, and thorns we may be given. After all, God seems to like calling the broken and wounded.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh wow. What a powerful verse! I’m shocked I’ve never heard that before. Wowzer. Yes! His glory is displayed through every challenge. Thanks so much for sharing that with me. It really clicked with me too! hugs xox

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Nothing like a bit of visceral reality to drag us into the heart of a story! I’ve often thought how unfair it must have been for Lazarus and his family for him to have to go through death twice! Thanks for popping into my blog and all the likes recently…hugely appreciate it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha no kidding! I’ve never thought about that, but wow yeah, that poor family. What an emotional journey they’ve had to go through. Thank you so much for this great response. Hugs and love xox


  4. If you don’t like stenches, you probably should stay away from Lima, Peru, at least certain parts of it, anyway. There was a walkway adjoining districts between Comas and Pro of Lima to get a better bus route to the richer side of Lima, La Molina (closer bus Comas-La Molina took about 2 1/2 to 3 hours vs. 1 hr from Pro). On that walkway, which was dust, people of the community would leave many kinds of garbage, particularly the larger kind–bricks and demolition–and especially, dead animals. Lima being hot and humid, the dust, the dead animals, in bags that opened and showed the death in its states of rot. The corruption, the dust, the humidity all mixed together in something you probably wouldn’t want as a scent for your shampoo. Unless, maybe, you suddenly decided to go grunge.

    “Stenchy” was my nickname in jail last fall/winter. It was not so nice in kind but nice in real time for effectiveness, as it led to a number of fights. Sometimes I think mini societies are just a quick study of emotional release, as those in these mini societies whether hospital or jail, tend to at some point release emotion in other ways than walking by the river. At times, punches are thrown. I have been on the receiving end both jail and hospitals. Mini societies are quite a good study of humanity, but so was Lima, since people live so tightly packed there, too. Emotions are often near the surface in these situations. The more opportunities people have to lash out, the easier they are to study for an observer like myself. The hotter the pot, the sooner it boils. The sooner it boils, the sooner a phase change happens.

    The gal I married always said, “Style before comfort”. Sometimes I go the other way. The best smells I find in natural flowers out on the way rather than in deodorants or colognes. My skin is very sensitive to any kind of application, even lotion.

    I suppose this post is an equating of death to stench, and I try to relate. I don’t see much difference between life and death, though, nor much to smells. It all seems the same. It shouldn’t, and I realize that, but it does. I suppose I find ways to compensate, though, and maintain this semblance of an aura that life actually does or should have meaning. But blah blah blah I better shut up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing this, Dan. Gosh, you’ve lived a lot of life and I appreciate you sharing your experiences with me. Style before comfort. Now there’s something to ponder. Glad you stopped by. Will definitely steer clear of Lima 😉. Hugs and love xox

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for that idea of counting threads in boring religious meetings. I usually would go to just admiring the sheer beauty of my hands to avoid the monotony, as I tried to imagine every sinew and bone.


  5. Well done! Our pastor did a series called “The anatomy of God” and one thing we talked about is God’s nose and what smells good to God. Interesting to see you write about the same thing!


  6. AWESOME post! That “stench” is something that plagues most of us at different times in our lives. I also love how God gave you a new revelation concerning a passage of scripture which you also deemed “dead,” yet He gave you a message of LIFE through those familiar words 😁 Amen. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Good parallel. I remember my grandmother always saying ‘Liars STINK in the nostrils of God’ to prevent me from lying. LOL! Stench is the obvious evidence of death, one of the more obnoxious ones. Depending on the death, you can easily gloss over what you see (for instance the old time practice of those who would take pics of their dead loved ones sitting in chairs, bassinettes, etc…getting a family picture before they were unrecognizable – creepy). However, we cannot ignore smells. They are visceral and assault us in an unapologetic way. Either it can be pleasing, complimentary or light…but death doesn’t ever have a mild odor. It’s a clear indication something is no longer living according to its original purpose and breakdown processes are either beginning or in full swing.

    The thing about the Lazarus story that I like isn’t about the death itself, but everyone’s reaction to it. I wonder what it would have been like to hear what the death experience was like from Lazarus’ point of view. Instead, we see Jesus raise him, his family and friends rejoice, the disciples become astonished. And what does Lazarus do? He doesn’t say anything, but instead sits at the side of Jesus. A fitting depiction of conquering the grave – you don’t really worry about what it’s like because you’ve been there and done that. What more is there to fear?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lias stink in the nostrils of God! wow! now there’s some powerful imagery for ya!!! thanks for this thoughtful response. you’re right – seeing the reactions in that bible story are definitely interesting. Amen to that! there is nothing to fear! big hugs xox


  8. Reading something for the hundredth time and then getting a new perspective somehow speaks to me of how God’s timing is perfect for each one of His children. I have experienced this same phenomenon many times in the past few years while studying scriptures that I thought I knew forwards and backwards. Thank you for this one. You wowed me with your writing, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes the Lazarus Gospel is always the last before Holy Week. I can’t imagine in those cave-dwelling tomb days what the stenches must have been. You figure not every tomb had a huge stone in front of it as Jesus’, I am sure quite a stench came streaming out of even the ones of the quite wealthy. You add in, as they were doing at Jesus tomb on “Easter Sunday” (when they were addressed by the angel) that women of the families came to these tombs to anoint the body, change the dressings etc.. That must have been a bad trip on the senses!! LOL!! God Bless you and all that you have done since your time close to death, and also recently for your mother. You have transformed yourself into the fragrant beauty of a dozen fresh roses, with a blossoming smile to top it all off. xoxoxoxo

    Liked by 3 people

    1. thanks so much Migueltio. Yeah I definitely am grateful that the bible is not scratch-and-sniff! haha 🙂 Thanks so much for your constant prayers and encouragement. I seriously look forward to “seeing” you every week!! hope you’re having a great evening. big hugs xox

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for sharing this. It was inspirational and interesting, and I enjoyed reading it as always. You should write a book sometime, too. You have so much to say, and it is easy to see how your writing makes such a positive impact on people. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. When I was in the CYMHS (Child and Youth Mental Health Service) at Mater Hospital in Brisbane, there were quite a few anorexic women there. Unfortunately, since I was suffering from severe psychosis, my behaviour was not as normal as it would of been had I not been ill, thereby making those women treat me with scorn and contempt. I remember one girl saying of me ‘And they say I (she) have an eating disorder,’ as my medication caused weight gain.
    I’m glad you are far more kind and merciful than the people I encountered in the inpatient ward. Because of your piety, God has blessed you with a healthy body. May God give you the baby you desire, when you are prepared for it.


  12. It must be our stubborn human nature, that it can take lots of reading or hearing about something before it sinks in and we finally understand
    I recently had a person Revelation, and a much needed emotional release by watching “Touched by an Angel” dealing with anger and how it spreads from one to another, by the end I was in tears and hysterical laughter


  13. Great read! Great Blog! Great story! Thanks for stopping over at mine and I hope my take on Lazarus deepened your understanding. Though, you’re pretty deep already! 🙂
    Blessings -M


  14. Too funny – I always remember the story, but not the ‘stench’ – I thought it was an odd word to use (we go to church on Saturday) and it stuck with me all night.

    I love reading your stories thank you, you are an inspiration ! 🙂


  15. Lovely post! The Lord is using you to help put many things into perspective–and I’m not just talking about the stench of death. Lol. We can be lost and found, and lost again, but we’re never out of His reach. I needed this. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Great connect between the stench of physical death and the stench of spiritual death. I think we often miss the latter, but dead is dead whether physically or spiritually. Realizing this make Jesus’ life all the more beautiful! Jesus doesn’t just make bad people good, he makes dead people alive!

    I appreciate your checking out my blog as well and sending some likes my way. Thanks.


      1. I knew that. That makes sense. My pastor has been using the liturgical calendar the past two years and it has been so interesting! Keeps him on task 🙂


  17. What is this Caralyn? Every visit to your writing brings some uncanny connect. Would you believe it if I told you that a leader I knew shared exactly the same message you wrote many years ago, including the phrase,’stink of death’ that hangs around an unredeemed person? He even added that although Lazarus was resurrected, it needed the stink of death that may still have hung around the tomb to be cleared away, and that although we may be redeemed by Jesus, it takes time for patterns to change, and the stink of death to be really replaced by aroma, and this requires us to emerge from the tomb.

    That message worried me, as there were so many areas of my life that needed complete transformation, and since I don’t believe in coincidences, your post was an encouragement to keep emerging from the tomb, so that the stink of death doesn’t hang around longer than it has to.

    As always, thank you for doing what you do. Would appreciate your prayers for our ongoing transformation as a family. No one sees the heart except God, and I find myself so full of unpleasantness many times, that if it wasn’t for Jesus, I would have despaired. What would we do without Him?

    BTW, my daughter is now following your blog, and came and asked me if I would be ok with her being like you. When I asked her what she meant, she said that you had the knack of being completely real and yourself, unapologetically, and at the same time, your love and pursuit of God was evident. This is an 11 year old talking. I said yes. Because that’s what I’ve always wanted for myself as well as for my family – to be totally ourselves as we’re born to be, as well as to be deeply in love with God. I realize I’ve come to trust you through your blog because I trust the apple of my eye with you.

    Much love to you and your family. You’re in our prayers. Strength to strength and glory to glory in the grace of Christ for you.


    1. Indi, I am so touched by this. Truly. I’m riding the in car with my dad and I read it aloud to him and I was holding back tears by the end of it. Wow. Thank you. I am humbled that your daughter said that. Thank you with all my heart. I will definitely keep you and your family in my prayers. Keep emerging from that tomb – love that so much. Sending you and your family all my love ❤❤❤❤❤


      1. Oh, I didn’t see your reply! I’m so honoured you would read out this reply to him. My warmest wishes and THAT handshake to my brother. There are two dads of friends who have stood out for me because of what their daughters say about them, and he’s one of them. I’m always touched, humbled and inspired to read about what he has been and is in your life.


      2. 🙂 I will definitely extend that. Yeah, he is a remarkable man. I know how blessed I am to have an upstanding man as my father. Sadly not every child is that fortunate. I will definitely pass this wonderful message along. 🙂 thanks again x


    2. And not to forget how enormously different and radiant you look now. That took courage to share those photos. Am reflecting and writing on preciousness right now. Those photos were precious, and show how precious you are to God and what great beauty He has brought out of you, indeed all of us, blessed is His precious name!


  18. Geez I guess I’ll never get a date with you! I just took an oil bath because my dry skin makes me itchy! Hair gets so greaaaaassy!

    But seriously, I’m like that too at the Mass. I tune out and then a certain phrase keys me in. I find the best homilists – usually- are the ones who don’t read it from a page but just extemporize. They seem more alive and plugged in.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. It’s amazing how God is constantly revealing Himself to us even when we feel like we have already read and heard the same passage over and over again. Thank you for the reminder not to take things and most importantly people for granted.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. This was so encouraging! I’ve never commented on your blogs, but just know – you’re really talented! And your story is absolutely amazing! God has done and will do soo much through you! Shout out from little ol’ missionary me in England! 🇬🇧❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Hi BBB,

    Thank the Lord He takes us though the odor of death. Good word picture…sort of, more aroma. Thanks,

    Gary On Mon, Apr 3, 2017 at 4:29 PM BeautyBeyondBones wrote:

    > beautybeyondbones posted: “You know what I love? I love when you’re > watching or reading something for the 100th time, and then all of a sudden > something “clicks” and it’s as though you’re seeing it brand new, with > fresh eyes. That happened to me today. At church. We were readin” >


  22. I love reading your perspectives. I always feel so inspired after reading one of your posts! I know you’ve had a lot to contend with, but you have a gift for making others feel like they can tackle anything!


  23. I think Lazarus and his family should be the first Martyrs. Think of what he and his family when through. Then think what it must have felt like when they realized they are going to have to go all through that PAIN and GRIEF again. Now that is worse than Vanauken’s ‘A Severe Mercy’. I wouldn’t want anyone to go through the pain of the grief I’m going through now again nor my wife going through her death again. They are giving as much as any martyr for their belief. The only consolation is the second time around Christ will have defeated death and will take them directly upon there leaving their body into heaven.


    1. Thanks so much for this thoughtful response. What an interesting perspective! I know, it takes my breath away to think of what that family went through. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Hugs and love xox


  24. I’ll be honest… “ugly honest”… I generally tune out the second I hear “Jesus” but you wrote this so eloquently and it definitely hits close to home for me. You make such good points here that I just had to commend you for it. Thank you for sharing this and I’m so glad you lived long enough to do so. As an eating disorder “survivor” myself, I know all too well how easily ED’s can take your life. Thank you for this.


  25. You’re beautiful! And I can’t handle the word stench ahhh! I’m still new to the scriptures, four years into hearing about God, the real loving God via holy Spirit. I didn’t know Noah’s arc until age 25 bc raised agnostic and mum was a religion theology major more of a Buddhist! I love the Lazarus story heh but I’m new. Jonah is my favorite book though oddly enough


  26. I’m skimming through your earlier posts as we’ve just connected recently. This is a good one. And I’m just so amazed at the truly awesome physical transformation you (really) suffered. You look COMPLETELY DIFFERENT now than at the time of your anorexia. The wonders God does with us if we just let him… Glad you got rid of that stench inside, it shows crystal clear. Please stay beautiful. You’re a delight for tired eyes.


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