Living the Trashy Life


There is an unofficial sport known worldwide but yet goes pretty much completely unnoticed. These pseudo athletes do not appear on cereal boxes nor do they get pricey endorsements. You can normally see these “thrill seekers” meandering around neighborhoods near college campuses in late summer to early fall but they can be found anywhere at any time. Who is this elite group of daring individuals you might ask? Dumpster divers…

For some of you, this term brings on a snicker and an involuntary head shake but for others, well, they are feeling their face grow warm as the emotion of embarrassment overtakes them. These “divers” cross over socioeconomic lines and you may be surprised who around you has taken “the plunge” one time or another.

Ok, and now for the true confession….been there, done that. It was circa 1980 and my wife and I were about as poor as our government leader’s morals. We were living in Franklin House apartments just around the building from our complex’ dumpster. One day coming home from work, I spied an exercise bike sitting beside of the grime laden dumpster. I debated for a while and decided to investigate further, eyeing the primitive pedaling apparatus up and down with a critical eye. Not finding anything wrong with the piece of equipment, I looked all around me for prying eyes, picked up the bike, and cantered off to our apartment like a dog with a new bone in its’ mouth.

I beamed with pride as I showed my new bride the find of the decade. She returned my look with a suspicious glare. I mounted my mechanical steed and started pedaling, my upper body lunging back and forth in rhythmic procession. Suddenly my rhythm was disrupted by a crack of metal and my body being hurled toward the now exposed post of the defunct exercise bike; I narrowly missed impaling my at the time, slight, terrified frame on the “pedals of death”. My thrill was replaced with humiliation as I sheepishly picked up the now evident piece of garbage and retraced my steps back to its’ rightful owner, the lowly dumpster.

There is another type of dumpster diving that is far more destructive which I dare say is one of an unforgiving heart.   I think at times, we all have been guilty of holding a grudge or carrying a hurt left by another. And how many times have we heard the name of the person who committed the offense only to trigger something inside that entices us to dive into the deepest recesses of our minds to the dumpster of unforgiveness. Once there, you plunge in to the deep bin of bitterness laden with the stench of resentment, scrambling to find that one rotting memory so you can once again experience the painful sting of the event. Once relived, you carefully place the decaying memory exactly where you found it so you can easily retrieve it later; feeling justified in your righteous indignation and condemnation of the offender, you once again snap back into reality. When will we realize that we cannot inflict harm upon the ghosts of the past; we are only hemorrhaging our souls. Only our forgiveness of others can neutralize the pain of those excruciating memories and only Jesus can sterilize our hearts and place our hurts in the proper perspective of being healed memories and lessons learned.

And unlike my botched attempt at turning trash to treasure, there are many who have successfully found the unwanted, underappreciated waste of humanity and have turned the items into something beautiful and useful again. Hhhmmm…sounds just like Jesus; He’s in the restoration business, turning our sinful lives into bright, beacons of hope and grace.

So what about you? Isn’t it time to shed those rags of self-pity and breathe in the pristine, life changing air of forgiveness? For life is too short to allow bitterness and unforgiveness to rob us of our joy and zest for life that God so freely gives…


Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV

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