Creation Care: One Gracious Step At A Time
It was a liberating moment, recently, when I went to Trader Joe’s and bought all packaged food.
It was freeing because I had worked, for quite some time, toward perfectionism regarding how I waste and consume and how I’ve had to reprogram my habits in these areas so that I can reduce my impact on creation.
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” - John Steinbeck
Let me explain further why this was liberating. I went to a conference not too long ago that talked about doing the next right thing. The example they gave was this: Instead of feeling like you need to make a big, life altering decision right now or right away, all you need to do is the next right thing –– you don’t even need to panic about making all the decisions right now to save the world. And I love that mentality, because it takes away the pressure from needing to be perfect and getting everything exactly right in one monumental action.
When it comes to waste and consumerism, we are never going to get it completely right. The point is to pause (you know, that Christian thing called Sabbath) and ask for God’s grace and guidance to make the best choices we can and to trust that the Spirit will amplify and honor the ways in which those choices will benefit the flourishing of creation and the lives of our neighbors.
With that, I try to have confidence that a majority of the decisions I make are the best I can achieve. And, it enables me to be somewhat proud of the way I spend my dollars, how I research purchases before I make them, and how I’ve worked hard to make sure my closet is 95% ethically sourced. And when feeling arises, I’m reminded again that I don’t have to be perfect, because, you know, there’s that other 5% of my closet that is from the mall and times when I buy packaged food from places like Trader Joe’s. There’s grace for these shortcomings and again, there is also grace in the realization that I am doing the best I can with the time and resources I have.
So, the question you can ask yourself when you begin to feel overwhelmed at the vastness of what it means to love the earth by reducing your waste and consumption is this: “What is the next right thing?” Maybe the next right thing for your life is to pack your lunch in reusable containers instead of getting takeout. Maybe the next right thing is researching what you are going to purchase next and figuring out if you really need it or a way to get the most ethically made version of that product. Maybe the next right thing is walking or bicycling to more places instead of driving to them.
I don’t know what your next right thing is; only you can answer that. But, I hope you strive for goodness, rather than perfection. I hope you realize there is an ocean of grace, that it takes time, and that simply showing up to figure it all out is a testament to God’s ongoing presence in our lives.