The Perfume Of Pain (And Life’s Other Mysteries)


It happened again the other day. An elderly woman passed by me and about knocked me off my feet with the powerful smell of her perfume. I couldn’t tell you if the scent of the perfume was delightful or not, because the force of it was overpowering.  I don’t know what the name of that perfume was but to me it could easily have been called “Perfume of Pain.” For many years I have wondered why some older women wear such vast amounts of perfume. Surely it must give them a headache to walk around in such a cloud of aroma. I mentioned this phenomena to my wife and she replied, “Well, I’m sure that sometimes their sense of smell is not as acute as it was in their younger years. So they probably put a little extra on not knowing that the scent is very strong. “ “Well, there you have it!” I said to myself. “Another one of life’s little mysteries has been solved!”

Life holds a lot of little “mysteries.” Learning about the little mysteries of life is part of the joyousness of this earthly journey. But the answer to the question as to the  “purpose of life” is a “big” mystery for many. Some spend their entire lives searching, but never finding the answers to other big questions such as, “What are we doing here?” or “Do we live after death?”  Others just give up looking because they are convinced that there are no answers to such questions. Still others would rather not know anyway, because, it really doesn’t matter to them!

I have never been one of the latter. I’ve always felt a need to know from whence I came and to where I am going. Who, in my mind, can live in peace not knowing the purpose of our existence? Others may feel differently. But if you are like me, in the solemn and quite moments of your life, you want answers to such questions. I have looked for those answers in places I think I can trust: the scriptures, the words of the prophets and in the quiet whisperings of the spirit of God to my soul. Christ spoke to the apostles of understanding the “mysteries” (Mark 4:11), but it is the words of Nephi that resonate more profoundly to my soul.

“For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost…” (1Nephi 10:19)

One does have to have faith in Jesus Christ in order to avail themselves of the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Many choose to believe, others do not. I believe that the Holy Ghost is real. I believe in a Heavenly Father who loves each one of us. I believe the big mysteries can be solved…in this life! But if we choose to leave life’s “big” mysteries unanswered, we are also choosing to live a life void of purpose. Not many things in history are so factual that they can’t be denied, but death is one of them; and living to die is not much of an incentive or motivating purpose to me.

I am finding that life is a lot shorted than I expected! I feel great comfort in knowing that my life will not end when my body lies under the earth. For me, and countless others, that is comforting. And for some reason it feels good to help someone else receive that comfort in their life. I’m sure my wife got some satisfaction out of answering my mystery of the “perfume of pain.” Many people spend their entire lives being teachers and derive great joy out of so doing.  Some may find it offensive, but I think testimonies shared by people of faith regarding the plan of salvation is often God’s most effective way of communicating it with his children, because many times,  we just won’t listen directly to his spirit!

Life holds many “little” mysteries whose answers serve as incentives for daily life. I will breathe a little bit deeper the next time I pass an elderly woman doused in a nice perfume. I now know that she is wanting to smell “extra” nice. I will no longer call it the “perfume of pain” because I have a better understanding and that’s nice.  But it is the answers to life’s “big” mysteries that provide purpose and lasting joy to this life. There are answers out there. I would echo the words of Moroni:

“And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever…” (Ether 12:41)

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