One of the strange things that happens in my house is that snacks get left uneaten and never entirely gone. Nothing is immune. Pretzels, cereal, crackers. If a box of something has been opened, none of us will finish it.
You ignore it when you live like this for a while. For some reason, I realized it the other day while it had fallen upon me once again to go through the snack container and start tossing.
I look at expiration dates, if a clip has been used to preserve whatever it is and what is left of the contents. It isn’t unusual to find multiple boxes with one item at the bottom. We just can’t bring ourselves to be “that” person to take the last one.
And while that sounds so gracious and full of self-denialism, it’s not fun to be the one who goes to get the veggie straws, and there is only part of one left surrounded by what looks like sawdust. It’s deceiving and disappointing, but I can only blame myself for being the person to start this somehow with them.
If there’s a batch of cookies, I will have half of one until someone else comes by, tells themselves it’s only half, and has to eat it.
Then, when I want another half, I do it again, or someone else starts the process all over.
My oldest now says when she sees me breaking it in two,
“You might as well take the entire thing! By the end of the day, you will have eaten a whole one!”
“It gives me time to work off the calories from this one,” I say as she plucks an entire one, carefree, putting me on mute.
It’s kind of like the trick I have seen people engage in while in a restaurant where they have a dessert on a plate and put it as far from their reach as possible to make it appear they really aren’t eating it.
I always want to go over and scooch it closer so that they know we know. But I cut cookies in half, so who am I to judge? They have their psychological crutch, and so do I.
The other challenge I face is knowing what to throw and when to.
I have been known on occasion to get tired of seeing all the accumulation and pitch whatever appears to be past its time. And then two hours later I will hear,
“What happened to that brand new bottle of ranch dressing I just bought the other day?”
“That looked crusty,” I will say in my defense.
“I just got that!”
Yet, most of what I threw away was from a month ago.
This has led to regularly holding food adoption sessions because God help me if I get rid of something too soon.
“Whose is this?”
Both glance up to claim or deny.
“Do you want this?”
Cue the elevator music as we wait on pins and needles.
Out it goes.
“What about this?”
I try to predict whether it’s a keep or toss mentally. It’s like playing Suduko or one of those brain exercise games that strengthen the synapses.
If it’s dripping, leaking, or molding, I make the executive decision to send it on.
Nine times out of ten, it all gets sent to the garbage because no one wants it.
So between the half-eaten items and trying to learn how to discern what’s old and what’s new, it’s madness. Yet, I can always count on finding one crumb left of something or an almost empty bottle that has barely a drop.
I bought a cold brew, ready-made coffee, which I never do so that I could grab it to go on the days I’m in a hurry and can’t make my usual one. I shared it when I brought it home. I knew there was some left, so I went to get it.
“What happened to my coffee that was on the bottom shelf?” I began to wonder if I had put it in another place and couldn’t remember. Did I pour it out and forget?
“There were three ounces left. I drank it,” said my youngest daughter from the other room.
On the one hand, I was proud of her for breaking the curse, yet I wasn’t.
“I cannot believe that someone in this house actually finished something.”
She came around the corner, looking at me hanging off the refrigerator door like I was just invited to a funeral.
“Did you drink it, or are you just saying that?”
“It was three ounces.”
“That three ounces was closure for me.”
“Closure? Three ounces of coffee?”
“Yes. I have to go get more now.”
I had suspicions that she rounded way down on the amount she slurped up.
“There was at least half a bottle.”
“There were three ounces, mother. Three.”
Sometimes when you are a trailblazer, you might encounter resistance from those who aren’t accustomed to such an abrupt change in behavior by the inhabitants of your home.
“Can I have the rest? Or will this not give you closure?” she asked me.
I forgot I had gotten a new one.
“You don’t remember how that three ounces I drank left you without closure?”
“Oh. Go ahead. I don’t care.”
“Now it’s not a big deal?” She said as she poured it into a glass.
Keep up, child.
What was so important days ago now was not even on my mind.
That’s not just something that happens with leftover coffee.
I cannot recall what I was concerned about a year ago today. Most of us can’t unless it was a major, life-changing event. Facebook will dredge up what we posted to our attention, but we usually don’t show our fears online. It’s generally masked by something else, so the world thinks we are doing fine.
It can keep us awake at night and consume our thoughts so much that it takes us out of the present.
I recall worrying about how I had a utility bill breathing down my neck while trying to celebrate one of my daughter’s birthdays. She didn’t know, but later, I could not remember it very well when I tried to think about what had happened that day. My mind was elsewhere. I felt like the entire event was erased from my memory. I looked at pictures, and it was as if I was not in attendance. But I do know the bill got paid.
It’s a fight not to do that. But in Matthew 6:34, it is made clear what we are to do:
Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. (Message)
The other day I decided to clean out my dad’s closet. While he sat on the edge of his bed, I pulled shirts out to have him tell me whether he wanted to donate them or keep them.
“Does it have a pocket in the front?”
“Yes, but it has long sleeves.”
“Put it in the pile.”
There were so many of them that the entire closet was jammed, but I knew he had hardly worn any of them. I had told him that there were people in the world without clothes, so maybe he should get rid of some of them to help out.
He looked at me for a minute and said,
“Like poor people?”
If I lead him down that road, there is less resistance. He comes from a time in history where people hang on to everything, but if I can convince him there are less fortunate people out there, he will always release his death grip on items.
I brought out hanger after hanger for him to judge.
The first question was if it had a front pocket. If it was no, then it was put aside. If I said yes, then we moved to question number two.
“Is it short-sleeved?”
Then the nod to the pile. If I said yes, then it was the scrutiny of color.
Tilting the head with one eye closed while I stood there holding it up. Please, God, help.
“I don’t really like that one. Give it.”
“That one I have to keep.”
“I don’t know. I just want it.”
“There are so many you are giving away,” he said, looking at the ones gathering around my feet. “I am not going to have any clothes left.”
“Do you realize your dresser drawers are full to the point I can barely shut them? These are from the far dark corner of your closet that you have not touched in almost three years?”
“Really? I have been here three years?”
“Almost. What about this?”
“Does it have a pocket in the front?”
An hour later, he had parted ways with prized possessions that he had no idea were taking up space in his closet.
It is human nature to hang on to things because they are familiar. I believe it gives one comfort to look in a dresser, a cupboard, or a drawer and see its space taken up, even if it houses items that aren’t used. It’s a false sense of security.
Along with this, there are people and places that God will call you away from to be moved on to what is next. In Isaiah 43:18 it says,
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? (NLT)
I read in one of the million books I have come across that the mind can only focus its attention on one issue at a time. When you are so stuck on those things that have worn out their welcome, you are expending energy on not seeing what can show up next.
The other day I had to remove a bandage after a blood draw. It hurt, but the tape was uncomfortable on my skin. What was once put there to help stop the bleeding for survival now was no longer functional. It would only affix itself tighter. From experience, I knew that the longer I left it there, the more difficult it would be to remove later.
The decision is always the slow peel or the abrupt, get it over with, ripping off. I chose the quick way and screamed through it just as much as I would have with the other option.
Within hours, I forgot it had been there, and the pain had completely gone away.
When you follow God’s lead, you may have to make choices that don’t always make sense but to trust and grow spiritually means to let go.