When we experience physical or emotional trauma, the world says, “Get over it.” But I believe there is no waste in God’s economy. Consider a disposable water bottle. After drinking its contents, you have a choice:
1. You can put that bottle in a recycle bin, where it will eventually be picked by a truck that delivers it to a sorting center. From that sorting center, the bottle may be picked up with tens of thousands of other plastic bottles and delivered to a facility that repurposes the plastic from those bottles to make fabric. That fabric is then shipped to a manufacturing facility that makes hand bags and totes. Your water bottle and 17 of its comrades become the spill-proof lining of your cute new purse, making it more durable. After using the purse for a few seasons, you decide to take it to a consignment shop, where it is bought by someone else who uses it for a few seasons before donating it to a nonprofit organization that provides clothing and accessories for women escaping abuse. The purse is given to a young woman who carries it with her to her first job interview. In the job interview, she is offered a bottle of water, which she puts in the recycle bin after drinking its contents.
2. Your other option is to throw the bottle in the trash where it will be picked up by a garbage truck and taken to a landfill where it will be buried. It will serve no other purpose.
Number 1 is happening in my life – literally and figuratively – right now. This photo is my new Urban Junket purse, the lining of which is made from recycled water bottles. I bought my previous purse from a consignment store; it, too, was made from recycled water bottles, and I will likely be donating it to a nonprofit this fall when I clean out my closet.
I am grateful that someone has figured out how to recycle water bottles and turn trash into treasure. Yes, I understand that the process of recycling plastic is not all that efficient yet, but human ingenuity is improving upon that. And yes, I understand that it’s better to refill reusable water bottles; I carry a Tervis water bottle with me nearly everywhere I go. But in a pinch, sometimes a disposable bottle of water is the only option, and each of us has to decide what we will do with it when it is empty.
Similarly, we cannot eliminate pain from our lives. When the inevitable happens, we have a choice: We can bury our pain and be done with it, or we can explore its potential in our lives and the lives of others, letting it be used for some other purpose.
What if, instead of just working through our pain, we decide to let it work through us?
What if, as a result of that choice, we experience growth that draws us closer to God and helps us encourage others, thus enabling them to better process their own pain and help others process theirs?