On the occasional Sunday afternoon I will decide to tackle an “around the house” project and one of the projects that has been haunting me over the past several months has been our pantry. That slim, little, out-of-the way closet which becomes a black hole of half-eaten chip bags and canned beans stacked to oblivion. I kept putting this project off because I was scared of what I would uncover during it. This afternoon I mustered up the courage to begin pulling every.single.thing out of the back of my tiny pantry and with shame flooding my neck and face, I collected a garbage bag FULL of wasted things. Corn and beans and untouched pretzels and all manner of waste. Waste. WASTE.
All of it reminds me of all the times I failed at cooking. I am not a grand master chef, friends. I have big dreams about all the healthy ways I
want to feed my family and, in an emotional rush to “do better” “be better” “eat better” I will frantically google healthy recipes, skip all the ones that involved anything minced (ain’t nobody got time), and happily fill my shopping cart with as many good intentions as I could muster. Then I bring those good intentions home, neatly stack them along the back wall of my pantry, and forget about them. Do you guys know how long your corn needs to be sitting in your pantry in order for it to expire? YEARS.
For me, this household chore symbolizes another embarrassing moment in a long history of failure in the kitchen. Emptying this pantry wasn’t about organizing my home as much as it was about coming to grips with my faults and my unfulfilled promises to myself.
As I lugged the horrifically heavy bag of untouched foods down to the dumpsters, I asked God to forgive this. All of this wasted goodness and provision. I literally had to limp to the dumpster as the bag sliced into my leg, pressing into my skin a painful reminder that I had not been a good steward. That I had failed. Again.
I heard that familiar nagging voice: ” Such waste! So many people are starving and you’re lining your pantry with food you’ll never eat because you know you won’t use them since YOU KNOW YOU ALWAYS FAIL AT COOKING?! WOW. So much for all of these great ideas you had huh? This is pathetic, Rachel. Why do you even try?”
I heaved the bag into the dumpster, ignoring the Deciever’s mocking voice and I prayed,
“God I cannot tell you this will never happen again. I want SO badly to promise you that I will change overnight. That starting TODAY things will be different. But how many times have you heard that from me, Lord? How many times have I started a plan to eat better or cook better? How many times have I hauled heavy trash bags to the dumpster? More times than I can count. And yet, You forgive me Lord. Sometimes You remind me to reflect on the progress of this battle, or You remind me of my husband who is willing to help me with this. You warn me of the poison of comparison and You always delight in my need for You because You know that sweet things are born in repentance.
Would You forgive me of this waste that symbolizes my laziness, my insecurity, and the desperate, wasteful measures I have taken to change myself apart from You? I ask that You help me buy only what I eat so that I might be a better steward of Your provision. Remind me of the privilege it is to be a citizen of a nation with supermarkets filled with food every day. I ask for help in learning new recipes that would help us take better care of the bodies you have given us. Help me not to be afraid of failure, help me be humble in this and willing to learn.
I can’t believe you actually care about this small, silly issue in my life but I know you do because you want all of me: all the bags of waste, all the battles with apathy, all the thoughtless spending, all the anxiety over money, all the recipes I didn’t get right, all the times I compared and I belittled and I hated and I coveted. I can’t believe you would want me but when I look at the Cross, I can’t believe that You don’t. You gave Your best so that when I gave mine and I failed, it wouldn’t be about my failure as much as it would be about Your victory.”
What do you need to take to the dumpster, today? What is it that clings to your heart, sucks out your resolve, and leaves you feeling ashamed and worthless? Let me encourage you to stop procrastinating the difficult task of facing it. Don’t carry it with you, friend. Admit it. Confess it. Learn from it. Be free from it by the grace of God in Jesus Christ.
God is in the business of redeeming the repentant, embracing the humble, and moving through the busted up parts of us. Don’t limit the way He will do it, either. Never underestimate the lengths He will take to reach you with His stubborn love — because clearly, kitchen pantries aren’t off – limits.