I’ve been in a dumpster. Yes, my whole body has physically been in a dumpster.
It all began because my older brother and I were filming a cinematic masterpiece to send to my cousin. My fun family thought that letters were just too impersonal, so we sent crazy home movies to each other.
When my brother and I filmed our movies, I was always the one who messed up the scene by laughing or forgetting my lines. So when he suggested I get into the alley dumpster behind our house, I climbed right in after only stalling for about a minute. It was my chance to shine, to have an Oscar-worthy performance!
I think my brother’s jaw dropped when I climbed into the dumpster, but he quickly composed himself and started the film rolling on our family’s 1990s gargantuan-sized camcorder. He later complimented me on my stellar performance. My family still has footage of one of the most random things I have ever done.
The main memories I have of my dumpster diving experience include a downright awful smell, a sense of deep sinking, and a difficult time climbing out of the trash.
Although I haven’t physically been in a dumpster since the great dumpster event of 1992, unfortunately my life has seen its fair share of metaphorical dumpsters. Specifically, 2 come to mind:
I can so easily fall into a pit of self-pity. When we are weary and not on guard, it is so simple to slip into the trap of wallowing in self-pity. Although it may not receive as much attention as other sins, self-pity is rampant in our lives. It comes so naturally. We all have echoed the whine of a small child saying “That’s not fair!”
The scary thing is that it is a self-vindicating condition that is usually so difficult to recognize. Satan loves this trap because once we begin to feel sorry for ourselves, we quickly fail to see God at work. We may even start to blame God for what we view as an injustice in our lives or become consumed with the answer to why this happened to us.
Moses had fallen prey to self-pity when he pleaded with God to let him out of his mission of leadership because he was not a good speaker. God rebuked Moses for his self-pity and faithlessness in trusting God would help him get the job done.
Jonah was king of the pity party when he lounged under the leafy plant outside of Nineveh. He was so busy worrying about his own reputation and interests that he forgot about the people that he should truly feel sorry for: Nineveh’s 120,000 residents living in spiritual darkness.
God wants us to protect ourselves from self-pity by focusing on Him:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” [Hebrews 12:1-2]
The art of comparison can often lead us to fall prey to sin. Whether we are comparing our own sins to someone else’s or whether we are comparing the material positions and spiritual gifts we have, it will always lead to feelings of pride, inferiority or a combination of both.
We are a society that loves feeling better by comparing ourselves to those we claim as less desirable. A classic example of this is “People of Wal-Mart.” Seeing someone in public wearing tie-dyed sweat pants with suspenders gives us all a little satisfaction that we are more decent and a person of better taste.
We love to compare ourselves to celebrities as well. When the most recent celebrity mess-up occurs, we so often jump on the bandwagon that their life is full of sin. We walk away from the TV thinking how holy and normal our lives are. But we must realize that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
When I sit back and compare my moral standards to someone else’s, I have committed the sin of comparison and have a prideful heart.
“Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.” [Galatians 6:4]
Ultimately we must immerse ourselves in God’s loving presence to not sink into our sinfulness and to distance ourselves from the horrible pits we so often find ourselves in. It’s not easy, that’s for sure. It’s a daily, even moment-by-moment choice. But the alternative robs us of our joy and has us taking up residence in a “dumpster.”
*Photo credit: wayne’s eye view