No Need to Visit the Compost Pile

February 9, 2009

in Everyday Lessons

In these days where everyone’s seeing green (and I don’t mean money), I must admit I’m trying to join the craze by doing my own little part by recycling, using cloth shopping bags, etc.  But, I have to tell you that I haven’t yet joined the compost pile club.  I know, I know-such a better use for coffee grinds-but I can’t seem to find a safe place for the stink. (Remember we’ve already got diapers piled up to our noses–wrong place for the pile to end if you ask me).  Anyway, compost piles seem like a good idea and all, but at this stage, I’m not ready to start one.  At least for the physical trash in our household.

I’ve recently been reading a book called, ‘This Momentary Marriage’ and a certain section of the book continues to come to mind daily.  I thought I’d share it and hopefully encourage you to start your own emotional and spiritual compost pile in your home, put it in a safe place, and try not to visit it too often.

Here’s the section:

Picture your marriage [or any close relationship] as a grassy field.  You enter it at the beginning full of hope and joy.  You look out into th efuture, and you see beautiful flowers and trees and rolling hills.  And that beauty is what you see in each other.  Your relationship is the field and the flowers and the rolling hills. But before long, you begin to step in cow pies.  Some seasons of your marriage, they may seem to be everywhere.  Late at night they are especially prevalent. These are the sins and the flaws and idiosyncrasies and weaknesses and annoying habits in you and in your spouse.  You try to forgive them and endure them with grace.

But they have a way of dominating the relationships.  It may not even be true, but sometimes it feels like that’s all there is-cow pies.  We’ve come to believe that the combination of forgiveness and forbearance leads to the creation of a COMPOST PILE. That’s where you shovel the cow pies.

You both look at each other and simply admit that there are a lot of cow pies.  But you say to each other: You know, there is more to this relationship than cow pies.  And we are losing sight of that because we keep focusing on these cow pies.  Let’s throw them all in the compost pile.  When we have to, we will go there and smell it and feel bad and deal with it the best we can.  And then we are going to walk away from that pile and set our eyes on the rest of the field. We will pick some favorite paths and hills that we know are not strewn with cow pies.  And we will be thankful for the part of the field that is sweet.

Our hands may be dirty.  And our backs may ache from all the shoveling.  But one thing we know: We will not pitch our tent by the compost pile. We will only go there when we must.  This is a gift of grace that we will give each other again and again and again-because we are holy and chosen and loved.

Now, of course there is the need for change, for speaking truth in love with one another, and for the gospel’s power over all those cow pies.  (He covers that in the next chapter).  But, the truth is that we can’t patiently approach the need for change and sanctification in a relationship if we haven’t first committed ourselves to enjoying one another-as we are at this moment. I so often fail at this.

The compost pile is one of the most beautiful descriptions of grace in a covenant relationship.  And I really can’t say it better.  Today, I’m committing myself in my marriage, my family, and my friendships to have a compost pile and only visit it when necessary.  I want to see change in all those I love (and especially in myself) but I know that change won’t start before trust is earned by enjoying some great paths and hills together-where there aren’t as many cow pies.

I’d recommend the book, by the way–This Momentary Marriage


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lora February 9, 2009 at 1:26 pm

That has been so encouraging to me this past week. So helpful to create positive patterns of reacting and affirming. Thanks, Nic!

2 Lori Ann February 11, 2009 at 1:24 am

Cute analogy – and I’d never heard of that Piper book, though I like several others. I’m glad I ran across your blog!

(p.s., for literal composting, you can do it in a small bucket in a windowsill or kitchen like this!

Lori Ann’s last blog post..Strawberry-Banana Smoothie

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