Hives, Dumpsters, and the Filling of my Soul

Y’all. I almost got the hives on Friday.

Friday at our house is dumpster day. As in, the dumpster behind the church gets emptied every Friday morning. Recently, on Thursday nights, Kris and I have begun evaluating the dumpster situation and if we feel there is enough room left over we use it as an opportunity to rid garbage from our garage. On this particular day, we had put an oversized chair in the dumpster, congratulating ourselves on finally being rid of it’s filth and over all disgusting-ness.

But here’s what happened.

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{Setting the stage- Friday morning}

The dumpster duo pulled in to our parking lot. Normal.

The truck drove over to the dumpster. Normal.

There was an especially long pause where nothing happened. Not normal.

{ACT 1}

A man jumps out of the truck in a rain coat. (It was raining…did I mention that before?) He looks upset. The next thing I know he is trying to open the dumpster…but the dumpster won’t open. Our chair is sitting in one half and the legs are wedging the lid down. The man pulls and pulls. The dumpster flies open. The chair hits the man in the face. The man looks even more angry. A second man emerges from the truck. He has no rain coat. He looks angry. Man 2 GETS IN THE DUMPSTER! Man 2 starts throwing things (by hand) into the garbage truck. Man 1 lifts the chair and throws it over his head into the grass.

{ACT 2}

I am frantically watching this scenario unfold from my kitchen window. I realize the lights are on. OMG, they are going to know I am home. They are going to come over here. They are going to yell at me and demand that I get in the dumpster and retrieve my oversized filthy chair. They hate me. I hate me. WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE. I hit the light switch. I yell to the children, “Get down. Don’t look out the windows.” They turn the lights back on. I rapidly dial Kris (who is at work). He answers. He probably thinks it’s life or death. It is. I explain the situation. Kris laughs. Kris tells me he has to go back to work. “BUT WHAT IF THEY COME OVER HERE?!?” I cry.

{ACT 3}

Both men get back in the truck. They drive away. I almost pass out. Our chair is next to the dumpster. So is our fertilizer machine thing that we don’t want that we also tried to throw away. Deep breaths. It’s okay.

Funny stuff…until it happens to you. And in all seriousness, did you know there are rules about what you can and cannot put in the dumpster? In Randi-land I tend to live by the belief: if it can fit, it is good. Alas, this is not so. Just because it fits does not mean it is good. Sometimes “if it fits” means that you will severely irritate two garbage men and require them to do tons of extra work extracting un-garbageable garbage from behind a church in the rain and then everybody loses.

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Interestingly enough, this paints a similar picture to how many of us live our lives. The motto: “if it fits, it is good” is almost an anthem for the American way of life. It’s the “more is more” principle.

We are like empty dumpsters (Super strange analogy…I know. Just go with me here.) knowing deep down that our purpose is to be full – but with what? Who knows? So we start to employ the strategy “if it fits, it is good.” Money, achievement, work, kids, relationships, food, activities, TV, movies, video games, bars, entertainment, addictions, stuff…more stuff…all the stuff…until…

Well, until what? Are we ever full? Is it ever enough? Do we empty the dumpster and then go back for more? Maybe we just weren’t full of the right stuff?

“Is the stuff I’m putting into my life stuff that should actually be in my life?”

Do we ever stop and ask ourselves the questions, “Is the stuff I’m putting into my life stuff that should actually be in my life? Is the stuff I’m putting into my life actually filling me up or is it just taking up space and will later have to be extracted by angry garbage men because it really doesn’t belong?” Not everything, even stuff that fits, can go in a dumpster. Not everything, even if it fits, belongs in our lives.

I talked in this previous blog about the question we frequently ask at our EDC group, “How prospers your soul?” But this last week one of my friends threw out a new statement/question. As we were chatting she said, “Here is what filled my soul this week…” This statement was so profound and so simple at the same time. She was taking the time to stop, listen to the promptings of her spirit, and in that moment she identified what it was that was actually fitting and filling her life.

What filled my soul this week? What filled your soul?

I don’t know if we can fully answer this question until we fully understand our purpose and our identity. Because until we understand our purpose and our identity we have a tendency to try and fit all kinds of different things…searching for what it is that will actually fill. We are spiritual beings created by a loving Father who designed us with joy and with great care. We are given gifts and talents. We are given desires and personalities. We are celebrated and loved. We are here for a reason.

Filling of the spirit happens when we connect with who we were created by and that which we were created for. It happens when we connect with our Creator and his Spirit becomes alive in us. It happens when we live abundantly from a life-source that is so much greater than our own.

It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!                                                                                                         -Romans 8:11 

When we are not connected to God and living out his purpose for our lives we may miss completely what our souls long for. If it is true that his Spirit is what brings life, then how will we know unless we are tuned into him?

“Filling of the spirit happens when we connect with who we were created by and that which we were created for.”

What filled my soul this past week was something I never would have found on my own. It was strange and simple, yet life-giving and awakening of my entire spirit. What filled my soul was a simple drive in downtown Toledo. K and I drove the streets, praying over our city, praying for the future of EDC (something we feel is greatly connected with downtown), and praying for restoration and hope. What filled my soul was a broken-heart for Toledo and asking God how things might be different for this city and these people, our people.

This might sound strange to you. It sounds strange for me to say it out loud. When I was 18, I left the Toledo area with dreams in my heart, visions in my head, a giant peace sign and the words, “See ya never.” Never did I have the intention of coming back to this place. Never did I have the care for the city that I do now. Yet, as I’ve continued to say, “Yes” to God, my dreams, visions, and intentions continually become intwined with his dreams, visions, and intentions. As it turns out, part of my story is stepping into the story that God has for Toledo. And as I do that, step-by-step, my soul fills and awakens. I become alive and excited.

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Unfortunately a church member saw the chair next to the dumpster and threw it back in. We had to go retrieve it and I thought it was the perfect opportunity for a photo shoot.

What fills your soul? Do you know?

My encouragement for you this week is to give pause to throwing big ugly chairs into your dumpster. Slow down for just a moment. Sit with empty for a time. Ask God to fill your spirit. What happens next? What does he say? What makes you alive?

We’d love to connect and hear from you! Share your experiences in the comments below!

 

Contributor: Randi Shepherd

*Want fresh EDC blogs every Monday morning? Hit the follow button at the bottom of the page to join the fun!*

*Click to listen to the latest EDC podcast. In #8 we unpack the concept “staying empty” in order to let God be our provision.* 

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