There is Grace (or Why I Don't Recycle the Peanut Butter Jar)

I’m kind of into recycling. I’ve never found time or a practical way that works for my life to help the environment in other ways, so I throw any urges I have to save the planet into cutting down on our garbage and recycling. I rinse and prep everything that our curbside recycling will take.  I collect and keep every scrap of paper and cardboard in our house and drive it to the community paper bin.  I take plastic bags back to the stores (when I occasionally use them) and batteries, ink cartridges, devices, and old computers to their respective recycle centers in my county. But I hate the peanut butter jar.

There is no easy way to recycle the peanut butter jar. Rinsing it does nothing. Putting it in the dishwasher leaves hard, stuck brown gunk. So I’m left with washing it, which leaves a gross mess on my brush and in the sink. So every time I get to the end of a jar of peanut butter, I fight with myself and debate. I really SHOULD wash it. I don’t want to wash it. It will sit in a landfill forever. I don’t have time for this. I believe in recycling. I hate the peanut butter jar.

Yes, I know it’s silly. But I’ve been having this conversation with myself for YEARS.

And I think it’s indicative of relays that often go off in my head. I SHOULD read with Judah tonight, but I’m too tired. I SHOULD call my friend that’s hurting, but I’m out of time. I SHOULD jump in and help with this community event, church gathering, school fund-raiser, but… I just don’t have it in me.

I think women in general struggle with this, but for those of us with chronic illness, it can be even harder to sort through. We have less bandwidth, less energy, less free time. And I think I put even more pressure on myself to use all of my time and energy perfectly because I know it’s precious. Hence the fight with myself about the peanut butter jar.

But here’s the reality.

I am never going to use my time and energy perfectly. In fact, I’m not going to do anything perfectly. Today, I’m not going to be a perfect wife, or mom, or business manager.

But there is grace.

I used to think that grace was just forgiveness for sin. My get-out-of-jail-free card when I messed up. But that’s only the beginning.

Grace and the Spirit and God’s mighty power make “all things work together for good.” That means everything will be ok. Whether I mess up or not. Whether I parent right or not. Whether I use my time right or not. Grace will make a way. Will it all be easy and painless? No. But it will be ok.

Grace and peace go together. Paul often closed his letters with “grace and peace to you.” Why?

I think it’s because we can only have peace when we take the pressure off ourselves (grace) and give control to God (thy will be done). It is only when I stop fighting with myself about the peanut butter jar that I can live in God’s presence and let him lead my thoughts and direct my time.

I find that on days when I can start the morning centered in God and let go of all the “shoulds,” God leads me to the things HE has for my day. He shows me where I need to pour into my kids, what text a friend needs, what’s right for my schedule. And they’re never the things the pressure voice in my head would have put on the list.

And I have grace and peace.

So, I’m throwing away the peanut butter jar.

And every time I do it, I say, “There is grace,” and mean it a little bit more.