The Plastic Bag

"You shall not pollute the land in which you live.... You shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I also dwell; for I the LORD dwell among the Israelites."
(Numbers 35:33-34)

This may not seem like a typical post, but that’s ok. In the end, I believe it still fits within the parameters of God’s world, and how we choose to live within it.

Several years ago - August 1, 2015 to be exact - I witnessed something that was just one of those moments. It was a moment in which a life may have been altered. It was subtle, no one in imminent danger, no one’s beloved pet gone missing; however, I do believe that a young girl might have forever been changed, due the choices that her mother made within a span of 90 seconds. I thought at first, just the little girl’s life would be affected, but now I realize it was my own life that was changed as well.


A mother was walking down the sidewalk, carrying her young, 3 or 4 year old, daughter. Having dropped an empty, plastic sandwich bag, now drifting down the street’s gutter, the young girl was attempting to get her mom’s attention. She was pointing toward the bag and making a bit of a fuss. Some 30 seconds later, the mom stopped, put her daughter down, took her hand, and turned to see what the fuss was all about. Once again, the girl pointed to the empty, plastic bag. With each passing car, it was drifting further and further down the gutter. In that moment, the mom had a choice to make; one that seemed so small, yet was truly, huge. She could choose to go back and pick up the empty bag (now litter), teaching her daughter a variety a lessons regarding awareness, responsibility, love for the environment, respect for others, protection of animals, etc. On the other hand, she could leave it there - also teaching her daughter a variety of lessons, such as awareness without caring, lack of responsibility, detachment from the environment in which she lived, lack of respect for others who would then see the litter, and / or a nonchalant attitude regarding little critters that could be damaged by the bag. I’m sure there are more, but you get my point.

In my heart, I hoped that she would choose to show her daughter gratitude for her awareness and caring, that they would walk together and pick up the plastic bag (which was clearly the daughter’s desire), and they would then secure said trash and be back on their journey. Instead, in an instant, my heart sank as I saw the mom turn her back to the bag, and with her daughter in hand, walk away.

I was full of rage, disappointment, judgement; I wanted to cry, and as I sat there in my state of disgust and venting, I was reminded by Holy Spirit that I was still sitting there, complaining about the bag in the gutter, AND the bag was still sitting in the gutter, AND I wasn’t getting off my butt to dash out of the cafe to do anything about it! That being the case, how much did I REALLY care?! Ouch! Spiritual smack down!! In that moment, did I care enough to get up, leave the cafe and dash across the road to grab the bag? Clearly, I had some self-work to do! I needed to shelve the judgement and look at myself. Small compromises - I’ve talked about those in prior posts; how small compromises may not seem to matter, when in reality, they do.

In the end, I’d compromised. Yeah, compromising with Holy Spirit? That's not a good idea. I don’t advise it; however, I knew that I was going to go after that bag, despite the delay. After discussing it with my husband, he said that he, too, had wanted to go after the bag. We chose to keep an eye on the bag, eat our food, and then snatch the bag after we were done. As it turned out, we'd been granted mercy in our choice to delay our action. Although it had drifted from it’s original location, we still had our eyes on it. The bag was resting on the driveway of a cemetery entrance, where it patiently waited for us to retrieve it - and we did.

Sometimes, we don’t recognize significant moments in our lives; sometimes, we do. Don’t overlook the little things. Sometimes, they’re the biggest things of all.

"In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness."
Titus 2:7

Love to all who journey here…

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