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Cardboard Fires

box burning in barrel

We have a lot of extra recycling at our house right now. I don’t know about you, but the bin in our garage is overflowing. We’ve been ordering so many essentials online due to staying put at home, which means boxes.

So. Many. Boxes.

I collapse them. I fold them. I stuff them into our pale, but there’s no way around the excess.

This week, I had a brilliant idea. An idea which must have been sparked from the 10-year-old pyromaniac suppressed within me from years past: I’ll burn them. 

Yes, that’ll do it.

I put my sons down for their naps. My husband was working. “This’ll be great,” I thought, as I gathered my Amazon and Target boxes and cut them into pieces (sort of like a lunatic). “I’ll have a little time alone to relax by our fire pit while I declutter our garage. Kill two birds.”

I grabbed some matches and got the fire going. I envisioned being there for a while but the thing was, the cardboard burned up so fast. I couldn’t throw the stuff in quickly enough to actually enjoy the fire and feel its heat. Then there was no more. The fire went out. And there was nothing left to kindle the embers.

I turned to go inside, but paused.

I felt like that fire. In fact, I still do. Being a wife and mother amidst this global pandemic has its beauty, but not without challenges. 

Some days, amidst the constant needs, physical touch, and activity, I’m pressing in to God, refocusing, purposeful. These are the days I’ve got wood on my fire. The grace He affords me is strong and steady; I accept it and I can feel it.

But then there are other days. The days that I’m just trying to keep my anxiety at bay long enough to be a fraction of the wife and mom I want to be. Restless. Stuck. Lonely. Agitated. Those are the days I tend to throw quick fixes at myself - buy something, do a house project, watch a movie, etc. Something to distract me from the root of what needs to be addressed. That’s when I’m like the cardboard fire - big and quick burns in my soul throughout the day, but with nothing lasting left to show for it when I lay my head down at night.

And I’m pretty sure that’s one of the biggest lessons I can feel God working in my heart these past several weeks. As I face the discomfort, anxiety, and unknown along with the rest of the world, but also within my own little sphere, I recognize just how easy it has been for me up until now to go for the spiritual quick-fix.

How often I’ve chosen something superficial to make me feel good instead of running to the arms of my Father. Honestly, I’ve excused myself in the past - “I’m a young, tired mom” or “I need to take care of myself too.” Those things may be true, but that doesn’t negate the behaviors. But this strange and unusual time in human history - it’s causing me to assess my identity, value, and habits, as a wife, mom, and most of all, daughter of God.

During this time, there’s no one and nothing I can put my hope in but Him. Not family (can’t see them). Not alone time (isn’t much of that). Not a new outfit (who’s going to see it?). Not appearance (no. one. cares.). Not the weekend (the days are blending). Not vacation (can’t go anywhere).

These things, they’re GOOD things. They’re blessings! Community, rest, personal care, trips, social events, they are all gifts from God. But they are NOT God. And that, as a young wife and mom, is something I know in my heart, but my head doesn’t always follow.

And this is what I press into as we stay at home for another several weeks and ease into an unknown future - that it is time to throw wood on our fires. Every single day. His grace is available, and His mercies are new every morning. He’s awakening souls. Eyes are looking up and out as the skies clear amidst the chaos and loss. I’m going to stop throwing cardboard at my soul. I don’t want to miss this pivotal moment in history, this opportunity for refinement, by sticking with what’s comfortable.

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1 comment

  • Great message! Thanks for sharing, Vanessa!🙏🏼🙏🏼

    Cindy Sanchez

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