Composting our past: Turning our memories into nutrients for today

GardenI learn a lot of lessons from my garden.  I don’t know why it speaks to me so much, but the Lord uses nature and my garden to teach me some pretty profound concepts.

This past month, the lesson involved my compost pile.

Almost a year ago, after much cajoling, my husband, created a compost pile for me on the edge of our property. He asked me why I was so determined to have a compost pile.  I told him that since our garbage disposal had backed up twice requiring some pretty intense yard work to unclog the pipe, we could no longer throw a lot of our scraps down the drain.  So I came up with the compost idea as a solution that would benefit two areas: 1) We no longer had to throw our biodegradable, compostable items in the trash, which would decrease the smell and 2) I would get super rich compost mix to combine with my garden soil every Spring.

So now, every day, John and I take any food item that is compostable and put it in a covered compost bucket on our counter.  After 2-3 days, John goes out to the pile to dump our latest offering.  Every month or so, John goes out to “turn over” the compost so that the nutrients and the really “good stuff” on the bottom can work on the newer compost items that we just added.

I’m sure you probably didn’t open the blog today to read about composting, but you’re going to get a quick lesson, nonetheless.

When you compost your food, you can only put in specific items like vegetable and fruit peels, egg shells, coffee grinds and filters and grass clippings.  You can’t put in any animal products like meat, skin, bones, or dairy products.

Why, no animal products, you ask? Animal products attract scavengers like foxes, coyotes, skunks and horrible bugs.

With a compost pile, you take specific items and you leave them alone until they turn from looking like cracked egg shells and brown apple peelings to looking like rich brown soil.  Then you mix that nutrient rich soil into your garden to make the plants thrive.

So here’s the lesson I learned from my compost pile: In my life, I can compost my past so that it nourishes the soil of my current life. But I must be purposeful and careful in how I do this so that I don’t attract the wrong kind of predator.

Our past experiences, the good AND the bad, can be ‘composted’.  What felt like garbage when it happened, can become the nutrients that make our current decisions, mindsets, and pursuits rich and fruitful.

BUT, like with a compost pile, we have to be careful to only keep certain parts of the past with us.  Every part of the past that is “fleshly”, will attract scavengers and flesh eating bugs. Those memories that are flavored by our failures, our sin and our shame, will only attract spirits that feed on death and flesh.  I hate to be graphic, but some animals and insects only eat dead things.  And some spirits only feed on death as well – those things that should be put underneath the sacrifice of Jesus.

This is one of the ways that the Lord applied this lesson to my life:

My children are grown and, for the most part, my parenting days are behind me.  I can’t undo what has been done and I can’t get a do-over to change or improve what I did.  It is what it is.

So if I dwell on the negative aspects of what I perceive that I didn’t do right, I will attract death into my current situation and it will poison the way I deal with my children now as well as poisoning the way I feel about myself.  There is no positive aspect to focusing on the negative.

But if I focus on the good memories and leave the rest in God’s hands, he has promised to give me beauty for ashes.  So even the things that I messed up can become good, nourishing, life-giving lessons for me, for others, and for my kids.

Isaiah 61:3

…and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

I can “turn over” everything from my past to the Lord and trust Him to make something wonderful out of the cracked shells and peelings that I hand him. Only God can do that!

He showed me in the parable of my compost pile how simple vegetable and plant refuse can turn into nourishment and he showed me how he can turn my past into something that can bring life to me and to others.  It will take time.  But new life will come out of the refuse of my past – if I keep trusting Him and turning it all over to Him.

Isaiah 61:7

Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.

Now you:

  • Do you have a hard time forgiving yourself, giving yourself grace and mercy and believing the best about yourself?
  • Do you struggle to see how God could use your failures, mistakes, weaknesses or even your past sins for your good?
  • Are you overly critical of yourself? Is your self-talk pretty negative?
  • Do you fear that your past has hijacked God’s plan for your future?

The other day, I read in Mark 11:25 that when I stand to pray, if I am holding anything against anyone, I need to forgive them.  All of a sudden, I realized that one of those people who I need to let off the hook, is ME! Why I ever think that being mean to myself and hyper-critical is going to turn me into someone who is kind, patient, and peaceful is beyond me!

Nothing good comes from unmerciful, critical behavior towards anyone – and that includes toward ourselves! Ask the Lord to forgive you for beating up on yourself, and for using your past mistakes as evidence that you have disqualified yourself from God’s best.  Be nice to YOU.

God Almighty delights in you.  He is thrilled about you, actually.  Whose report do you want to believe: Your own summation of your worth or God’s proclamation of your value to Him?

2 Samuel 22:20

“He also brought me out to an open place;
He rescued me because He delighted in me.

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