Speak Eagle

Recycled Encouragement

I love metaphors. Metaphors help us draw parallels between familiar and unfamiliar things.  They bring understanding in new ways and paint concrete pictures of abstract concepts.

Just before Christmas, my friend, Andrew, lost his job.  With 4 kids and a mortgage, he needs fresh hope for the new year.  And he’s not the only one.  Andrew knows we all need fresh hope.  So, last week on Facebook, he used the metaphor of an ordinary trip to the recycling center with his son to offer hope to his friends.

I asked if he would mind if I shared what he posted.  He said he didn’t mind.  So, here it is:



My oldest son Connor and I went to the county landfill last week to recycle the glass we had been collecting over the months. It’s always an interesting experience. It’s a cross-section of America when you are there. And without a doubt, it hits most of your senses uniquely.

They have the glass divided up into three sections: Green, Clear, and Brown. As we both were enjoying throwing them as hard as possible into the bins, watching them shatter into a million pieces and feeling like Lebron James for a moment, a few things hit me:

broken-glassjpg1. At times we all enjoy breaking things, but never enjoy being broken. The process of being broken and put back together again is one of pain, struggle, heartache, and distress. We rarely see the end product during the breaking stage. Those times in my life when I’ve been broken are rich with emotion. I’m reminded today, as I write, that some of the best parts of me are those that are broken and seeking wholeness…forgiveness….grace.

2. We had a blue bottle. What do we do with the blue one? There was no286px-Cobalt_blue_flask designated bin for that color. How often do you feel like that blue one? I know I do. I don’t fit in at times. I struggle wanting to be the green or brown one. Never fully living in the color I was created to be. Full of function and purpose. It got me thinking… with those around us, how often do we simply put people in a bin without looking at the uniqueness that shapes them?

And, is it possible that in God’s economy, there is a whole spectrum of colors that we never even see? That gave me hope. Hope that it’s ok if I’m different. Hope that God has a plan for me…even in this season when I don’t know what that plan is.

3. I missed. When tossing bottles into the far container, I was doing it with a flurry of acrobatic moves. I’m sure that all those who were watching were greatly impressed with my skills and undiscovered talent. (or at least that’s what I want to believe!) broken-brown-bottleI took my eye off the bin once, at the same time I released a torpedo of glass, and missed. The bottle shattered all over the ground. I jumped backwards as not to be hit by the shrapnel.

In the moments following, I stared at the ground and realized how messy it was. Life is messy sometimes. No, often. Let’s be real. We have built imaginary utopias in our brains each day of what today will look like, feel like, and play out. I don’t know about your life, but mine doesn’t usually look the way I thought it would. My dependence on Jesus and others is a must to survive.

As we both walk through today, my desire is for you to be aware. Be aware of areas of your life that are messy, where you need others to assist you. Asking for help is so hard for us.

Also, be aware of others. Look for those who “missed” in some way and come alongside them. Often they will resist, but press in out of love.

I’ve been reminded over the past month or so, how much I’m not alone. I’m not the only one who lost a job. I’m not the only one who at times is sad. I’m not the only one who desires authentic living. And I’m not the only one in desperate need of Jesus. I’m grateful for Him. I’m thankful for you.


And I’m thankful for Andrew. Courageous. Transparent. Encouraging others in a season when he needs encouragement. If you could read the comments people posted in reply, you would see that he was encouraged in return.

That’s redemptive communication. Redemptive recycling. Recycled encouragement.

What metaphor can you find in your world to encourage a friend today?


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