When COVID hit our home, it came hard and evil. In my entire life I have never been that sick. Our COVID carrier was my adorable eight-year-old niece who had snuggled in the bed with me while we watched Hallmark movies. When COVID pneumonia set into my lungs, along with severe dehydration, the vision God had given to build this house was on many days one of the things that kept me moving forward in faith.
When my body began to heal one heartbreaking loss remained. My inability to taste or smell. The mental battle of this loss started the moment it happened. Philly had started with his Covid symptoms before I did. I had gotten him settled with something to eat, and walked outside to take care of my plants when I smelled this putrid scent. I thought maybe it was from some algae in the mulch where he had recently flung the old water from our fountain as he had cleaned it out. By day’s end I would realize it was the beginning of losing my taste and smell. Because I had multiple friends who still lacked taste and smell, some a year after having COVID, I panicked. It is gone forever, was the whisper.
Years ago following my divorce I had read John Eldredge’s beautiful book, Walking With God. In it he talks about making agreements with the enemy of our hearts. So, through the years, when the enemy comes at my mind with something that can assault me I try to speak to it quickly and I do it out loud. I felt strongly to do that here. “l make no agreements that losing my taste and smell is forever and that it will not return.” I have often thought about how wicked Covid is. It, like every other disease steals what God has given. God created our senses to enjoy His creation. He filled our lungs with His breath at our birth. Our lungs are used to create the wind to worship. But this demonic disease attacks these most holy things. I began smelling oils four times a day, as research shows smells are attached to memory. I would smell the lemon and think of fresh squeezed lemon in a glass of sweet tea. I’d smell the eucalyptus and think of the best massage I ever had. I’d smell the clove and think of a delicious cup of Chai tea in fall. But, it was the rose I loved the best. It reminded me of my mother’s face when I was little as she’d put on rose water every night before bed. I would smell and I would remember. About six weeks in it was beginning to return. I remember the first coke I drank from McDonald’s that offered a faint familiarity. I was giddy.
Then something happened. The first time I noticed it was again over a McDonald’s coke. The taste had changed. The only way I know to describe it is it tasted like what you would think gasoline would taste like. Then I opened the jar of peanut butter. I had eaten peanut butter toast every morning for breakfast for twenty years. When I opened the jar, it had the smell of gas and it tasted just like it smelled. Chocolate had the same taste. Coffee had the same smell. Something was terribly wrong.
My research would reveal it is called Parosmia, and it is when the olfactory nerve has been damaged. Research shows it can take months to years to be healed.The battle in my heart and mind was so real. As I sat in the middle of this journey of building our home, so many images and so much excitement was around the joy of the kitchen we were creating. The Thanksgiving dinner. The Fourth of July cookout. Ken and Janet teaching me how to make Julia Child’s beef bourguignon. The prayer team coming and working at the big island as the aromas filled up every nook and cranny. Making homemade pizza and brownies with my nieces.Weekend Experience attendees scattered around every area of the house breaking bread that could be smelled everywhere.All of this was a part of this vision God had given me and now seemed it was stolen. Once the smell distorted I couldn’t even stand the smells of the oils anymore that were supposed to help my smell return. The rose that had brought me such special reconnection to the mom of my youth, was putrid to me now. I was going to have to wrestle with my heart not to settle into a place of despair or desperation. That was not my portion.
One morning as I was getting ready to go teach a Bible Study, my mind was rummaging through all the research I had done on taste and smell recovery and what I should do next. As I put on my makeup, I was listening to a sermon by a pastor I love. In the middle of the message, not even the main point, the Lord highlighted Matthew 6:33. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you.” In that moment I felt God say, “You just seek me, and I will take care of this.” It was so clear. So loud. So sure. I felt my heart settle into that deep place. “Just confirm it for me, I ask.”
God and I have a dance, too. I like confirmations in three’s. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I’m hard headed. Unsure. Afraid to get it wrong. Whatever the reason, He is often gracious to give me at least two. He did this for me. Two additional times He assured me this was my word for this issue of my body. “Seek Him. He had the rest.” Then, one day, I received a McDonald’s gift card from a friend. Immediately I felt the Holy Spirit say, “I am not mocking you.” Jesus knows I love McDonald’s coke. But here I was unable to drink it. My heart could have gravitated to anger quickly. He knew this. He answered quicker.
So, I move forward. I move forward, unable to taste or smell normal, if at all. Yet, I have finalized every detail of the kitchen with joy. The other day in fact we finalized the drawing of the banquette. Packer came up with the pew style legs. How perfect. How holy. How this home. I customized the large circular table that would rest in the center along with a lazy susan so little arms can reach the food in the middle. I picked out the pillows that would scatter the tufted cushions in patterns of polka dots and stripes and the sweetest blue and green check. I have finished every single detail of this kitchen refusing to allow the enemy to rob one moment knowing that no matter how long it takes for it to return I will smell everything, taste everything and savor everything in my heart.
The enemy only gets the last word to our stories if we allow him, because God is the author of them. In fact, scripture says God’s love gets the first and last word over everything we do. So, we make no agreements with him. That kitchen will still afford all the visions and dreams God has revealed to my heart. That is the only agreement I am willing to make.