I opened a friend’s pantry and then quickly took a few steps back. With wide eyes, I told her we needed to do something about that mess. Her pantry overflowed with food and had quite a foul smell. I quickly went home, changed into a Hazmat suit, at came back armed to help. We were laughing and gagging our way through all her food, separating, sorting, and tossing.
It didn’t take long before I found a “dead zone” in the back of her pantry. At the bottom corner, where it is too dark to see, years worth of food fallen from shelves above accumulated. I threw out many moldy pieces of bread when I stumbled upon a can of green beans. This was no ordinary can; this baby expired in 1986! Someone should have tossed out these beans when I was four-years-old. Instead, it moved from house-to-house with the thought that it would one day come in handy. News flash for my friend, when a can is bulging, it is not handy — it is toxic. As I was leaving, I gave my friend a quick hug and then said,
Love you… Now get better at throwing out anything expired.
As I drove home, those words kept ringing in my ears, and it was if the Lord was saying,
Love you…. Now get better at throwing out anything expired.
You see, I hold onto things that are past their expiration date. I convince myself that I will need them one day, but really they are just as unsafe and unhealthy as food spoiling in the pantry. Valentine’s Day is a trigger for one such toxic memory. In fact, I’ve shared about it a couple of times on the blog because my thoughts continually go back to that hurtful experience. I’m doing something different today and verbally sharing the details of the story. So, if you’re curious why February 14th is such a trigger date, click the audio button below and listen to me share a nutshell version of my first Valentine’s Day with Jason.
Hope you enjoyed our conversation as much as I did. 🙂
In the Old Testament, whenever the Lord won a battle, ushered in peace, displayed His glory, or just showed up and did his thing, the people would build an ebenezer or place a stone of remembrance.
Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the LORD has helped us!” ~ 1 Samuel 7:12 (NLT)
So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. ~ Judges 6:24
Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day. ~ Joshua 4:9
Our memories are imperative to the Lord. I think one of the reasons he wants memorial stones set up is so that we would be able to recall and discuss his wonders. It’s endearing when Jesus tells us in John 14:26 that one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to bring to our remembrance God’s Word. For some reason, the fact that God helps us remember him touches my heart and further drives home the point that our memories are important.
And if something is important to the Lord, then you know it will be under attack by his enemy. Satan wants us to focus on the pain rather than the Healer. The lies rather than the Truth. He wants our thoughts to take us captive rather than us taking them captive. He wants the toxic, unhealthy, unsanitary thoughts rolling around in our heads because he knows they distract us from God.
This is why the Lord wants us to throw out anything expired.
I’m the queen of holding onto expired memories. Memories that have no purpose in my life today, and yet I still give them impact. Words, lies, insecurities, and doubts cloud my memories when I should look back and see stones of remembrance that point me to the Lord.
The painful words spoken to me in 2003 became invalid that same year. I could choose to see how the Lord has matured both of us, or focus on all the other wonderful Valentine’s Days we have celebrated since. Instead, I battle each February to not question Jason’s love or wondering if the words he spoke then still ring true today. My very sweet husband has often apologized, as recently as last month, for his words and actions in those early days of our relationship. He hates that his words have left me with insecurities that I have trouble overcoming. I appreciate his admission, but honestly, this isn’t up to him to fix. It is up to me.
It’s time to throw out anything expired.
Because my mind camps out at this story, I often blog about every year. However, I hope this is my last year to do so. I don’t want to find myself wrestling with the same (unnecessary) heartache because I’m holding onto an old can of green beans. I don’t want to carry this with me from house-to-house until I die. The choice is mine.
For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. ~Isaiah 65:17
I’m praying that the same God who will one day create a new heaven and a new earth will help me here and now not to remember or bring to mind the former things. I want His light to shine into my dead zone, where years of moldy memories accumulate so that together he and I can purge them. I’m so thankful for the washing of the Word and the renewing of our minds. This Valentine’s Day, I am worshipping God for His goodness and celebrating the good He has accomplished through the years. That is the very best way to celebrate today!
What do you need to throw out?