Since we arrived here in Platte, I had been dutifully stacking my plastic bottles, tin cans, cardboard, and paper in our laundry room, hoping to figure out sometime where I could go to recycle all of it.
Back in Allison, we could weigh our cardboard and paper and then our church youth group would get a check at the end of the year. (Yes, it took lots of paper and cardboard to amount to anything, but it felt good to be contributing in that simple way)
Yesterday I finally asked someone if they have recycling in Platte and they regretfully told me that they didn't. "We really should!" she said, but she told me that all of their trash goes down to a landfill in Lake Andes.
We were going to Mitchell for something later that day, so I loaded my four or five small bags of recycling and wrote down the address of their recycling center, figuring we could drop it off while we were there.
It was late in the afternoon when we finally got done with visiting people in Corsica and Parkston, getting drivers licenses in Armour, and running a couple of errands in Mitchell. The GPS took us to the address I had, but we saw no sign of a place to recycle. We drove around a little bit, but finally gave up and we went home with my pitiful little collection of milk jugs, drink bottles, and junk mail.
I didn't cry, but I was seriously distressed.
How could I go from faithfully recycling everything I possibly could for more than eight years to tossing everything in the church dumpster?
I joked around with Gary and said we could save up our paper, load it in our small trailer, and turn it in back in Allison sometime when we're going that way. He understood my pain, but pointed out that the gas we would burn to haul it that far would cost more and be worse for the environment than the benefits of turning it in.
I know, I know, and I don't want to put down my new state. I'm sure they have thought about the pros and cons of widespread recycling and they've made the decision that's best for their residents.
I'm just going to have to get used to doing things in a new way here.
As much as it will pain me at first to throw away paper, cardboard, plastics, and other things, I'm sure it will also free up some of my time. I won't experience the avalanche of trash that happened sometimes when I let my recyclables fill up our small closet by the back door. I won't have to take time to load up the vehicle and stop to unload stuff like we used to.
There might be a new freedom in all of this.
Do we sometimes do things like that with the way we think or the things we do?
We store up negative thoughts, planning to sit down and examine them one day and turn them into better ideas, but we store them too long and they avalanche out and lead to depression.
We keep doing the same mindless things over and over, hoping to have fun and relieve our stress, but those activities just keep us from accomplishing our real goals and get in the way because we won't get rid of them.
We keep eating the same junk foods because we're bored or anxious. Those empty calories get "recycled" into excess pounds of fat on our figures. It would be better to just throw away those junk foods (or at least eat them much less often) and try some new ways of eating that will lead to healthier bodies.
The Bible says there's nothing new:
"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV)
Sounds like recycling, doesn't it?
The book of Ecclesiastes goes on and on about how meaningless life is. However, the author comes to an important conclusion:
"Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind." (Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV)
Maybe recycling isn't best for us in the long run.
Repeating the same patterns over and over probably won't get us where God wants us to go. Instead, we need to fear God (be in awe of Him) and keep his commandments (obey Him).
Those actions will create new ways of thinking and acting that will lead to exciting, fulfilling results. Results we may not even be able to imagine right now.
I may cringe every time I throw away a plastic bottle for a while, but I pray that it reminds me to fear God and obey Him, expecting Him to accomplish great new things in my life.
Do you recycle? That's great if you can! How can focusing on God help you to get out of old destructive patterns and expect amazing new things instead?