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  • Melinda K. Bowens

Where There's Smoke There's Fire

#BreakingTheCycle: Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire

I’m from a pretty small town. And on top of that, I lived most of my life outside of the city limits of that small town. So something that I’m used to seeing quite often is people burning dead grass, leaves and anything else yard related so it can all grow back better in the spring months. This is also how my mother almost burned down our house at least three times (just ask my brother, he can verify). But that’s a different story for a different post.

But during any given drive down a road or highway, we could see smoke from varying distances where people were burning on their property. The denseness of the trees or the distance of the site didn’t always allow us to see the fire; but we knew for sure that where there was smoke there was certainly fire.

Now, I didn’t tell you some random story about me growing up in the country for your sheer entertainment; it has some purpose. When I thought about this whole scenario, I thought about how it kind of tells the story of our emotions as well. The smoke is the emotion, the fire is what’s really feeding those feelings and the trees are whatever we use to cover them up. Let me explain.


During the course of any given day we feel an array of emotions; anywhere from excited, to nervous, to relieved, to stressed, to joyful. We can experience them all in a matter of hours (heck, maybe even minutes depending on how the day is going). And behind every emotion is something; a memory, a conversation, a gift, a phone call, something! Because where there’s smoke (emotions), there’s fire (the something).

Some feelings we wear more on our sleeves than others. We tend to have those public “go-to” emotions that feel the most comfortable when we’re around other people. I’ve said before that optimism is my thing; but it’s also my thing because it’s come to be expected of me. And rightfully so, I kinda live life with rose colored glasses on most of the time. Your go-to feeling may be excitement, joy, aloofness, skepticism, etc…; but chances are, you have one.

For right now, I’m not talking about our go-to public emotions. I’m referencing those feelings that seem more unexplainable and that we are far less open to sharing with others. Those feelings that we’re a little embarrassed to have about seemingly minor situations, but we have them anyway. Those feelings that tend to boil a tiny bit too quickly even when we try to simmer them down. Yep, those feelings.


Those emotions that we don’t care to admit are blowing all types of smoke in our lives, but the fire is behind so many tress we’re content to leave it there. Our trees can be our jobs, our titles, our education, our physical location, or our *insert prestigious achievement*. And why wouldn’t we leave all that fire behind those trees? Fire burns, it’s hot and it messes up that freshly-washed hair; while those same trees have otherwise served us well in life. For most of us, we’ve lived pretty decent lives with those same fires burning in the background for years. So we’re not hurting anyone, right?!

Well, the thing about fires (much like our unaddressed emotions) is that we really don’t see the danger in them until they’re already out of control. Smokey the Bear tried to tell us years ago that only we could prevent forest fires (I know that was a cheesy reference, but I’m a cheesy person; so it works). Now I’m saying today, that only we can prevent emotional fires.

There are quite a few biblical stories of unchecked emotions getting the upper hand, like Moses and the murder of the Egyptian. Anger was Moses smoke, but his fire was that he had been sent away from his mother as a child, just to spare his life (Dharius Daniels, 2016). And not only was he sent away, he was then raised by the very people that caused him to be separated from his mother in the first place (check out Exodus, it’s a pretty interesting read). As humans, we know that experience stuck with Moses his entire life. And as humans, we have to realize that some things have stuck with us as well.

The difference between us and Moses in this area is that we have the chance to put out our fires before they spread. But will we make the choice to fight the fires or let them burn?


Chat with God


What fires are burning in your life?


How did those fires come about?


What is your one sentence prayer in this situation?


Please invite a friend to this series who you think would like to join this journey!

Get information about my new book here!

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