Nothing Is Wasted
“Come on, wake up.” I shook his foot and laid his pile of folded clothes for the day on the foot of his bed.
What a difference a half hour makes, I noted. It’s still dark outside, for one. One of my favorite things about our new container home is that in lieu of one of the living rooms walls, we inserted giant sheets of storefront glass that looks into the woods. Early mornings are lovely right now as I'm normally greeted by warm pink and orange hues of sunrise peeking it's way over the horizon.
NOT TODAY. We are up before even a hint of daylight, and greeted with darkness.
We had a test scheduled for my son at the hospital this morning at 7am. It’s routine, nothing I’m concerned about, but we’ve hit our deductible for the year so I’d wanted to get it out of the way. Gaaah, it’s way too early to be thinking of things like deductibles.
I mumbled for Josiah to check his soccer bag for clean socks before heading out the door.
It’s September in Ohio now, so the early morning air was crisp. I threw on a jean jacket and my first scarf of the season. I'm always amused by how happy putting on a scarf makes me feel. I smile for scarf season.
After dropping Siah off to school, I was the first one at the Post Office. In fact, I had to wait outside for the Postal workers to arrive. After running a few more errands, by 10 am, I was famished. My growling stomach reminded me my grandma’s freezer soup waited for me at home in the fridge.
She packed it in an unassuming, not-a-real-tupperwear plastic container that had originally packaged potato salad or something. You know, the ones not intended to be re-usable but we like to anyway.
So here’s the deal with the soup. It’s my favorite thing. It’s a hearty, piping, steaming bowl of comfort. I’ve tried to duplicate it over the years, but I can’t. It’s not the same.
My grandparent’s house is always stocked to the brim with snacks and goodies for the grandkids. Their freezers (yes, multiple freezers— in the house and in the garage) are always stuffed full. Perhaps this is because they remember the great depression, and they can have plenty now, and so they do.
Yet even in the abundance, my grandmother does not waste a thing. If food comes in the house, it will be consumed, frozen, turned into a hash, or if nothing else can be done, fed to the chickens.
The woman freezes alot of left overs. If someone gives her tomatoes out of a garden, I don't care if there are 5148 tomatoes and half of them rotten, she will stand there in her one-woman assembly line with her little pairing knife, faithfully carving off the rotten spots (which are then placed in the bowl that goes out to the chickens-duh!) and prepping the rest for whatever mad-scientist plan is in her brain.
I have walked in on many a tomato massacre in my day. All of her counter space will be covered with tomato juice, and I am greeted with a stern, “Do you need any tomatoes?”
(Hint: The answer is never no.)
Anyhow, this goes the same for produce, fruit, meat or breads….even food from a can is treated as a delicacy. It is wasteful to…..waste. So into the freezer it goes. About every six months or so, to make room for the latest haul, she’ll thaw out a bunch of frozen containers. All the miscellaneous food goes into a big pot on the stove and: Tada! It's freezer soup day.
And it’s finally here. Today’s version is a melting pot of sausage, chicken, red peppers, tomatoes, lima beans, corn, carrots, cabbage, potatoes, pork, and green beans. It's always different, depending on what was frozen.
I've told this to people before and they blink back at me with blank eyes, and I realize what I just described sounds disgusting. Oh, but guys, you'll just have to trust me on this. I'm more excited about this soup than I was this morning wrapping that scarf around my neck.
See, God speaks to me in soup bowls. Is that weird? I don't know. Sometimes I learn lessons after crisis strikes and in desperation he plows onto the scene like a rescue boat, his presence loud and blazing, an obvious shelter. But sometimes, if I’m quiet enough, without any chaos, he teaches reticently over a steaming bowl of soup and real-buttered bread.
Sharing warm soup together makes us friends, so just settle back and unwind and let's be honest with each other here. We l o n g to be useful, don't we? I know I do. I want to earn success, to matter, to be significant, to be of value to the earth and to those I love. I'm driven by a desire to leave the earth better than I found it.
We usually have no way to measure the things we long for, or to actually see how close we are to obtaining them. It's near impossible to see their collective value in our mundane little routines of the day to day.
Moms can feel their talents growing stale inside them over a sink full of dirty dishes, and towering laundry piles. These mundane little tasks are not our dream, surely this next dirty diaper is not our purpose, this trip to the grocery store is hardly significant.
Once I found myself in a way where these seemingly insignificant tasks, coupled with unexpected disappointments began piling up. I began collecting mistakes like merit badges. My experiences, my own melting pot of mismatched stew. A spoonful of heartbreak here and a sprinkling of pain jump into the pot creating my own kind of goulash.
Yet this morning I just keep thinking,
nothing is wasted.
Maybe your pot looks different than mine? That first marriage, the job you quit too soon, mistakes you've made, that dream you've carried for decades but hasn't materialized in real life yet, things you wished would've happened that didn’t, those things you wished wouldn't have happened that did.
And the waiting? Oh, the waiting. Nothing like being shoved in a cold freezer for six months.
Our life events aren't random and aren't wasted, and certainly they do not go unnoticed before God. I have to believe God is a bit more provident than my grandma. He's not wasteful. I believe He meticulously saves and gathers, plans for the future, collects and creates for a time to come.
Psalm 56:8 Says,
"You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.
Why does God collect, keep track and prune all of our days, experiences— good and bad, careful to throw each ingredient into the pot?
Don't beat yourself up about what you cannot change. God can work it out into something good. I know he can and I know he will.
And just like freezer soup, your particular blend can't be duplicated. You are unique in this way.
Feeling leftover today, like the forgotten, unwanted trimmings of last week's main course? Maybe God even got out the pairing knife, cut on you a bit and shoved you aside.
It's not because He's wasting you. He's creating something.
And it will probably shine brightest on a dark day.
~Shauna Shanks is a wife and mom of three boys and a rescue pup. She blogs about Spiritual life and building their home out of shipping containers. Her book A Fierce Love released summer of 2017. Learn more here. We hope you join our list of email friends and come visit again soon!