The Smell of Poverty

When I was pregnant with my first baby at least a hundred years ago, I had a blueberry yogurt while on a ship that rocked a bit too much. My stomach got sick and to this day, the smell of blueberry yogurt makes me more than queasy. And for me, Christmas always comes up all wrapped up in cinnamon and pine tree fragrances; I can hardly separate them. Even in the heat of summer, the smell of white fir brings me right back to snowy, cozy Christmasy feelings.

Aromas have a way of defining our experiences, mainly because of the memories they evoke.

The other day, I sat across from two young women in my church. I had never seen them before, and they smelled of poverty and welfare. It’s an aroma of hopelessness, sweat, dirty clothes and emptiness–cold, hard, hungry and oh-so-needy.

The smell of poverty, it has a strange effect on me–it makes me want to run away, to judge and be harsh and it makes me fall in love, all at once.

Some of the most beautiful people I know reek of poverty. Their neediness drives me away, but their hearts draw me to them. They remind me of me, and that is so very scary, so raw, so real.


I know that my God has wrapped Himself around me; I know that His Son has washed away all ugliness from me. But I have not forgotten who I used to be, and I remember all too well the odor of poverty that clung all over me, that defined me, that followed me. That was me. I remember the stigma that went with it, and my disgust at who I was, and the hopelessness that almost killed me.

I introduced myself to the two ladies sitting across from me and I smiled. One of them was pregnant. They smiled back, and I noticed how pitiful their teeth looked. The disgusting smell of poverty and welfare oozed from them, but it challenged my heart; it enticed my soul. Because their story, it isn’t finished yet. And their story, it can completely change.

Can I love them out of that smell into their new chapter? Lord, send me.   

Wanna come on over to my new blog to check it out?

Sometimes, I link up with any or all of these wonderful writers: Hearts 4 Home,SDG, Hearts Reflected, WLW, EOA, Things I can’t say, Growing Home, Play Dates with God, Monday Musings, Hear it on Sunday,Inspire Me Monday, Tell me a Story, The Better Mom, a Mama’s Story, Into the Word, In and Around Mondays,OYHT, Gratituesday,Titus2Tuesdays, Extraordinay, Lessons from Ivy,Denise in Bloom, Sweet Blessings, Faith Filled Friday, Finding Joy,WholeHearted Home, Mom’s the Word, Reclaiming a Redeemed Life, Still Saturday. Wildcrafting Wednesdays, WFMW



  1. I know exactly what you’re talking about. I’m trusting God to strip away who I was, even yesterday. I’m ready for brand new–His finest. Thank you for sharing.


  2. “Because their story, it isn’t finished yet. And their story, it can completely change.” –> YES! So true! Thanks for linking up at #ThreeWordWednesday.


  3. As a young Bride, one evening my husband took me to a Mission Service where our church was the host. I wanted out! Today, I want IN. God has sent me to a church where the smell is poverty and welfare. What else is there? It is the tangible presence of the Lord, and a place to minister. Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story, and may God bless those two ladies at your church, and draw them close to His heart.


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