Taking out the Trash (an invitation to Love)

"If what you see from the eye doesn't please you, then close your eyes and see from the heart." - Anonymous

I watch as the tall white plastic container slowly fills throughout the day.  By evening it’s reached maximum capacity and I do a high-step, stomping it down with my foot before scraping in the leftovers from six dinner plates.

The following morning, as I throw in the twins’ diapers from the night before, the situation is nearing a crisis – the trash can is full, overflowing, and my husband has already left for work. 
I feel a flash of anger as my fingers delicately search for the red plastic drawstrings and pull up on the hefty bag.  I tie the strings in a tight double-knot, drag the bag to the back door, and toss it outside where it sits smoldering in the sun all day long, blocking the entrance to our house.  I leave it there, stinking, like a quickly scrawled note of reproach that greets my husband the minute he returns from work.
My husband and I take a tag-team approach to nearly everything it takes to run a household of six, but last I checked taking out the trash is still his job.  He mostly neglects this responsibility, though, except for Sundays, when the weekly trash collection is imminent. 
I try everything from arguments and accusations to passive-aggressive humor in my attempts to wrestle him into compliance.  I explain how it hinders my day, how the whole house gets backed-up when we don’t keep up with the trash.  But I don’t explain how it feels like a personal affront to me, which is where, I suspect, the anger really comes from.  I also neglect to mention how I’ve allowed this little failure to come to symbolize a lack in his love for me. 

I can see I’m being irrational, but I can’t seem to let it go.
Then, one day, as I bend again to lift that heavy, reeking load, I feel the invitation to view that neglected bag as a symbol of all that my husband does do for me and for our family. 
The truth is that he neglects the trash, in part, because he’s busy showing his love in a hundred other ways, both big and small.  Arriving home from work, he looks past the trash and toddlers, his wide smile seeking me out as he pulls me into his arms to ask about my day.  He helps with baths and bedtime and encourages me to take the evening off and head out with friends when the going gets tough and I need a break.      
The truth is I am loved.  So for now on, as I bend and stomp and lift and tote, I’ll use it all, every motion, as a reminder of his love for me.  Because love is patient and love is kind, but nowhere does it say, “Love is taking out the trash.”

(photo credit here)

This post is linked with Playdates With God and Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday.


  1. Could not ask for a better son-in-law because of the way he loves his family especially our daughter. She is pretty special too.

  2. The dailyness of our routines are filled with choices, yes! And to choose well, to choose love, to choose grace is our calling. Thank you for speaking this so well this morning!

  3. Oh, ouch, Kelly! Have you been peeking in on my huffing and puffing over the trash? This is my story too. I don't know why it is so hard to let go of sometimes. This is a good reprimand for me. My husband does so many things a lot of other husbands don't do. I'm going to focus on that. At least for the rest of today. Which, according to my calculations is about 35 minutes :)