A TRASH BAG LESSON

Trash canIn life we do the best we can with what we have at the time, and I’m learning to give myself grace, allowing myself to not be what I deem “perfect.”

As I waited to get my hair cut the other day I noticed this small trashcan and had to laugh, did they not realize that next door at Kroger they could buy small trash bags that would fit?

If you’re like me you have a tendency to make plans, have a big “To Do” list, or feel driven to get things done. We want to be living our dreams NOW, already have the “perfect” relationship with God, be totally organized, and make the most of our day. Seeing the over-dressed trashcan reminded me that life isn’t about living the end-result of perfection, nor is it even the “journey,” it’s just living this minute the best I can and being satisfied with that. That doesn’t mean that I’m not improving or changing or growing or planning, it just means that at this particular moment I’m doing the best I can with what I have to work with. “The best I can” is related to my beliefs, time, health, relationships, money, and everything else that makes me who I am at this moment. One thing I’ve learned this year is to focus not on what I’ve accomplished by the end of the week but on whether I did the best I could.

A cardboard Christmas tree.

A cardboard Christmas tree.

Physically we often have to do the best we can with what we have to work with. Have you ever scraped the snow off your car with a spatula? Until my son Chris could get his windshield wipers fixed he tied his shoelaces to each wiper and would manually pull them back and forth through the open windows. For my parent’s first Christmas in Thailand their Christmas tree was made of cardboard. When the car dashboard lights went out on our car, Terry rigged up a laser pointer to shine on it.

We’re better at making do with physical things, but we also need to give ourselves more grace when it comes to being who we are. Like that trash bag, there are times when things aren’t perfect or we don’t have the perfect solution, and we use whatever we have at the moment. For the last two weeks I’ve been coldy and coughing and it’s really thrown a wrench in my writing time, the “wrench” meaning I did nothing. Making my bed this morning I saw where last week I’d written this on my bedside clipboard: “I just heard myself say, ‘I just wasted a whole day out of my life.’ But no, I chose this day to nurture my health and that’s important. I lived today with purpose, choosing myself as more important than goals and productivity.”

My friend Jan C. had a frustrating time this weekend but her email ended with this: “My attitude stinks though after the rough night. My choice is to have fun anyway.” Grace to not be perfect is a choice we can make for ourselves but it also impacts those around us.

Laser dashboard lights.

Laser dashboard lights.

In my mom’s devotional yesterday it made the point that God knows our every thought, asking if that knowledge brought us joy or discomfort? My mom said “Joy, but a little discomfort too.”

“It only brings me joy,” I said, “because with God knowing everything about me I can relax, he loves me and accepts me for who I am, knowing that my heart is for him and he’ll help me change what I need to change.” I’m content with that. He knows me and he believes I’m good enough. Not because of what I do or don’t do, not because I’m pursing him or because of my ministry or how many souls I’ve won or how many times I’m in church or if I tithe or how I wish I hadn’t said what I did—he just loves me and accepts me for who I am right this minute. If Jesus has that much grace for me than surely I can give myself grace to do the best I can with what I have to work with, even if it’s a gigantic trash bag in a tiny trashcan.