Life as A Disposable Container

My husband offered me this analogy as I described feelings of loneliness and isolation. 

“You feel like a container.” 

He described what a container does:  

It holds things. 

It delivers things. 

It keeps things together.  

Containers are spaces for nourishment, growth, and possibility. 

As I listened, I thought, “I am grateful to be a container. I am good at being a container.

For me, my containing included listening, creating, nurturing, and joining parts. 

It seemed such a privilege and one that I delighted in. 

It also seemed like my calling. 

My gift. 

And yet, the reason I was feeling yucky was that I realized that containers were discarded.

Beyond my utility, do people love me? Am I lovable if I am not useful?

Over the past 8-months, and since I had resigned from my position as The Director of a city-wide ministry, I found myself processing new emerging emotions. 

For eight years, I breathed life and nurtured INSPIRE to carry out the mission of uniting Christian women together in heart and purpose.

The ministry had been fruitful.

Through the years of retreats and meetings, women formed small friend groups and deepened existing friend circles.  

Hundreds of women showed up to worship together and be encouraged by God’s word and community. 

Those who joined our leadership team considered it a privilege and delight. 

Even a few members of my leadership team had formed close friendships that surpassed the space of INSPIRE. 

The ministry was accomplishing its mission,  yet why did I feel alone for so many years?

My thoughts about myself in relation to INSPIRE seemed only to be part of a more significant equation, as my ideas about other roles I had amplified these feelings. 

I had teenagers now, and my role was shifting as a mom. 

The strokes I received from little kids who thought I knew everything and loved me on my worst day, diminished as my children moved into healthy teenage cognitive and emotional development, which included questioning and not appreciating your parents. 

With a new COVID lifestyle and teens who stayed up later, it became much more challenging to connect intimately as husband and wife.

All of these things contributed to the thoughts I was having that made me feel isolated, even among people. 

As a mom, wife, business owner, neighbor,  therapist,  life coach, and friend, I found myself holding space for others. 

Many relied on me for things they needed, yet I found I relied on very few.

Lately, I didn’t feel seen, appreciated, or loved.  

I found myself becoming weary of all the space I was holding.  

I didn’t feel inspirational.  

I joked (before Rich came up with the container analogy) that I had a fake diagnosis PLLD: Post Leadership Loneliness Disorder.

What I was feeling is pretty standard when you hold space for teams, employees, and participants.  

As a leader, you sometimes believe everyone else can drop the ball but you. 

And not only can you not drop your balls, but you must also pick up the balls other’s drop. 

The problem with holding space for others, if you don’t see that you have someone holding space for you,  your arms get tired. 

Although I found this container analogy comforting as it helped me find the words to what I was feeling, there was something that didn’t feel right.  

The comparison seemed accurate, and yet it seemed to reveal a pretense I was living under. 

I had fallen into the trap of thinking that I contained others’ things, and yet the only thing God called me to contain was His Spirit. 

I think this is what we call preoccupation with self.  

God had not called me to fix people, create things, solve problems, or get things done. 

He had called me to be loved and to be a catalyst for his Spirit to flow.  

That was it. 

It wasn’t about me. 

And when I got caught up in containing the wrong thing (anything but his Spirit), I began to block the flow of the Spirit. 

God’s spirit is dynamic, moving, transformative, living, breathing, and powerful.  Like a raging river, it flows endlessly, changing the space it passes through.

We do not hold space and contain the feelings, thoughts, or problems of people and organizations. 

Yes, we can, but when we do, we grow weary.  

I remembered as a child, praying, “Lord, make me a vessel.” 

In my youth, I longed to be used by God.  

I wanted to be in the middle of where he was working for His glory and honor.

And yet here I was feeling despondent because I was a disposable vessel. 

Yet, isn’t that the gift God offers us? 

He offers to fill us from the inside out. 

We, who are fragile jars. 

We, who are simply pots he formed. 

He offers to fill us with Himself!

II Corinthians 4 informs us that we are jars of clay.  

However, we do not contain people, problems, or matters of the flesh.

We do not hold space for organizations.  

We do not bring things together or deliver results.  

We are not even essential.

Had I forgotten?

As a container, my flesh is breakable, temporary, fleeting, unattractive, and unassuming.

What I contain as a believer and servant of Christ is the treasure of  HIM.  

This is good news!

I Corinthians 4, futher goes onto tell me that I am a container for his extraordinary power. 

He pours out of me.  

A broken vessel.

My flesh is disposable.  

And that’s okay. 

His glory is forever. 

And my spirit will dwell with him forever!

His love for me is everlasting.

And it is enough. 

It’s always about Him. 

Never about me. 

And so, I had to repent of  “me-ism”: My desire to be a beautiful container adored and held in high regard, rather than delighting that I am a disposable vessel where God dwells. 

For the past several weeks, I have moved from a place focusing on “my needs” and “loneliness”  to a place of repentance and worship.

I thought all my giving over the years had left me feeling weary, when, in reality, it was my forgetting that the giver, creator, and healer was always and only the Lord, not me.

The problem wasn’t what I suspected. It was not that I had overlooked myself; instead, I relied too much on myself. 

When our eyes are not entirely focused on Christ, it’s easy to see our brokenness rather than the extraordinary power we hold.  

It is easy to think we are holding things together when the reality is, he is holding us together. 

It is way more energizing to focus on Jesus than your contribution to the world.

As I repented and reoriented my perspective, I remembered Moses. 

For the Israelites to prevail in the battle they were fighting, Moses could not lower his arms. 

And yet this clay jar was growing physically weak.  

And so Aaron and Hur came aside Moses and not only did they hold up his arms, they found a rock and placed it under him so he could sit.  

Because we are broken, temporary, and fallible, we need others in our life that support us in our vision of lifting the name of Jesus. 

Self-sufficiency and people-pleasing get in the way of this. 

We need friends to come beside us and lift us when we feel weak and lose vision. 

As  I was suffering PLLD believing I was alone in carrying out my calling,  I asked the Lord for help, and he brought a few faithful friends to step beside me and hold up my arms. 

They even offered a rock for me to sit on. 

And when they did,  I kept my arms raised to heaven experiencing victory in my soul. 

Getting my eyes off my weariness, and the equally broken vessels surrounding me, the power of the Holy Spirit began to rush through my weary spirit and body like a raging cleansing river of life.  

I am a container. 




However, this jar of clay contains an extraordinary power. 


The flesh is dying.  It is selfish. It is prideful.  It experiences pain. Its moments are fleeting.

The redeemed spirit is eternal.  It is selfless.  It is kind and full of compassion.  It does not age or struggle.

When we receive Christ we become NEW creations.  The old dies. His spirit fills us and not only changes our destiny, but His spirit has power to quicken our bodies.

Though we have been made new in Christ we still live in dying physical bodies, so we find our-self in the middle, in the “already but not yet.”  We remain in this  fallen world  between two bookends of perfection: Eden and Heaven.

When we see evidence of our flesh we might become disheartened, frozen in shame, overwhelm or despair.  And yet “frozen in shame” contradicts the very gospel.  Shame focuses on our imperfection, our failure and leaves us stuck. 

Redemption tells us that we are imperfect and not good enough. We cannot make our-self righteous. Our works cannot redeem us. 

It tells us we need HIM.  It tells us the very sin and falling short in our life is the bridge to wholeness.

Paul asks, “Why do I do what I don’t want to do? What a wretched man am I!”  And furthermore he goes on to say, “It is not I who does it.  It is SIN living in me.”

So these two paradigms get to exist side by side: Flesh and Spirit.

The flesh is not who we are.  Sin is not who we are. 

The Spirit is our new identity. 

You get to choose which one you will feed.  Which one you will starve? Which one will grow bigger? Which one will dominate your days?

False pleasure makes big promises, but does not deliver. 

The flesh within us throws hissy fits and selfishly wants its way.

We experience sadness, pain and sorrow.

And yet we can rise up as we feed the spirit.  We can experience freedom, true joy and peace, even as our flesh feels pain. 

Rise up my sisters.  Take hope.  Have courage. 

Your spirit and flesh get to exist side by side. You get to decide day by day which one you will nurture and which one you will let starve.

​Victory, peace and is always yours.


Yesterday I introduced you to The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the saboteurs of any good relationship.  They are Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness and Stonewalling.

If left to run rampant, they can ruin your marriage.

Today I promised you the antidote for Criticism.

According to The Gottman Institute, the solution for criticism is expressing yourself in a way that does not find fault with the other person.  It is accomplished by using a gentle startup. 

To soften our delivery  (an ACTION) two things need to happen:

1. We have to create a new FEELING.  We can’t soften our delivery when we come from a place of feeling critical or judgmental.

2.  We have to change our THOUGHT about our partner.  It is our thought that gives rise to the feeling. 

Thoughts create (–>)  feelings which fuel (–>) Action/Inaction.

One of my favorite ways to look at the results I am getting in my life is to use this simple Model I learned at The Life Coach School.  The Think Feel Act Model simply organizes the pieces so you can look at them:

Circumstance (C)–>Thought(T)–>Feeling(F)–>Action(A)–> Result(R).

Looking at the antidote to Criticism, lets use a specific example from my own relationship.

We start with a specific Circumstance (C).  The Circumstance is simply the facts. EVERYONE would agree on the Circumstance. In my case the facts are:

  • Rich says, “My favorite way to relax is watching movies.”
  • Rich has  hundreds of movies.
  • Rich watched  some TV everyday for the past 14 days.
  • Growing up Rich’s family had a TV in every room of the house except the bathrooms.

I have THOUGHTS about these facts. My thoughts are very different than Rich’s thoughts.  My thoughts are not facts. They are simply  my assessments and they are completely optional.

Thought (T):  TV is a waste of time.

What I think, creates a FEELING.  This particular thought makes me feel critical.

Feeling (F): Critical

When I feel critical, I criticize.  Or if I am trying to do the “right thing”, I keep it to myself.  If I try to resist the feeling of critical without really acknowledging the thought creating it, I might force a new feeling.  But forcing a new feeling, the feeling of critical eventually topples out in self righteous statements or condescending comments.  Just “acting nice” doesn’t cut it.

Action: Criticize, internalize and then make passive aggressive comments.

When I act this way, the result is, I waste my time.  Criticizing Rich is not productive and does not serve me or him. 

Result (R): I waste my time.

We have unearthed an Unintentional Model.  It shows us how I am getting the results in my life.  It is this:

C: Rich watches TV

T: TV is a waste of time

F: critical

A: criticize, internalize and make passive aggressive comments

R: I waste my time

This model shows us the cause of my Result line.  We can see it is my Thoughts that cause the Results. The Circumstances are not to blame for the Results. (But we like to think they are.)

The Result of me wasting my time is not caused by Rich watching TV. It is caused by my THOUGHTS about TV.  I know this is true, because Rich could have married someone else who LOVES TV and so this problem no longer exists.

If I want to change my Result to “I appreciate Rich and myself, ” I need to get rid of the criticism.  I ask myself, what would I be doing if I appreciated  Rich?

My Actions might be:

  • I let Rich enjoy TV while I spend time doing what I enjoy.
  • I share my thoughts and feelings in a non judgmental way (soften startup). 
  • I look for ways that TV is not a problem.
  • I  make requests without demanding (soften startup).
  • I turn toward by watching a show with Rich because I want to.

To create an Intentional Model, I ask myself some questions. 

What would I have to feel to show up that way?

Accepting. Loving.

What thoughts would I have to think to create feelings of Acceptance?  Here are some I might try on:

If Rich was married to Sally who loves TV this would not be a problem.

​This is only a problem because I don’t prefer it.

Rich’s brain works different than mine and he needs stimulation while I need quiet.

I want to honor Rich and myself.

Using this information we can create a new model using ONE FEELING and ONE THOUGHT:

C: SAME (we never change the Circumstance)

T: Rich’s brain works different than mine and he needs stimulation while I need quiet.

F: Accepting

A:  I share in a non-demanding way that honors our differences; I “let” Rich watch TV and I do things I enjoy; I watch a show with Rich because I want to.

R: I appreciate Rich and me.  

When we think about ourselves and our partner in a nonjudgmental way, we can make bids to connect without criticizing.  We can create an open posture when we bring up a circumstance, soften startup and value our partner and our-self. 


Today we are talking about the 3rd Horsemen:  Defensiveness.

(Start here for the series: 4 Easy Ways to Kill Your  Relationship)

It seems protective, yet it holds the power of death.

Defensiveness often will rear its head in response to Criticism.  However, I have seen Defensiveness when the other is simply expressing a concern. 

Defensiveness starts in the mind.

Perhaps at the root of this action are feelings of insecurity and lack. The thoughts creating this feeling might be, “I am not good enough.”  “I am defective.” “Something is wrong with me.” And so it interprets the other person’s complaint through this filter.

Defensiveness perceives an attack.  It feels threatened. It feels vulnerable.  

We see the first case of defensiveness in the Bible right after we learn about creation.

In the story of “The No No’s”  as my daughter liked to call it, Adam and Eve disobeyed.  Adam blamed the Apple Eating on Eve; Eve blamed it on the snake.  When questioned, defensiveness was the go to. 

Defensiveness wants to offer explanations and be understood. Yet, in offering explanations it silences the other person.  It refutes what they are saying.

The thoughts you have when you are defensive are about what you can’t control–someone else’s thoughts.

People get to have opinions.  Other’s get to think what they want about a circumstance.

When I am intentional and I feel defensive, I tell myself that my husband is trying to create closeness and that he is not against me.  Instead of getting defensive, I try to think  maybe he is hurting or concerned, not that there is something wrong with me. 

I can’t say I don’t ever jump to defend myself or offer an explanation, but I try to listen and understand where he is coming from.

The antidote to Defensiveness is to listen to your partner’s complaint without feeling attacked.   It would be better to say, “I am feeling defensive” than to get defensive. 

If you tend to feel defensive, ask yourself, what are the underlying thoughts that make me feel that?

Recognize that changing a defensive pattern takes practice.

Recognizing the feeling of defensiveness and breathing it in can help us feel the emotion without reacting to it and slow down the physiological flooding.

Once we are able to pause and recognize that we are wanting to act out defensively, we can identify other helpful thoughts that help us to actually listen.

My partner is really feeling what he is feeling.

My partners experience is valid and so is mine.

I am interested in what my husband is perceiving and experiencing.

When we share a complaint with our husband and he listens without becoming defensive that feels really really good.  We feel listened to.  Even if our husband disagreed with what we shared or wanted something contrary, if he first legitimately validated and appreciated what were were feeling, we would at least think, “wow, he gets where I am coming from.”

Wouldn’t it be great to offer that to him? Wouldn’t that feel good for you?  (and believe me once you quit resisting what you think is painful , pushing into it….it feels so freeing!)

When we feel listened to and understood, we are better listener’s ourselves. 

In thinking about how you want to show up, think about how you want your husband to respond to you when you share.  Offer that same non-defensive response, by reminding yourself that his opinions and perceptions are valid.  And so are yours. 

When you do this, you can listen without defense and seek to love, understand and honor in the way you desire.


It’s hard to talk about relationships without getting into emotion.

Emotion is at the heart of relationship. It is at the heart of adventure, conflict and passion.

The worst thing that can happen to you is an emotion.  Think about it.

It doesn’t get worse than feeling something.

Emotions are simply vibrations in your body.  They are caused by thoughts.  That is it.

And yet, many of us are terrified of feeling .

What if you weren’t?  What if you wanted the full human experience and wanted to feel ALL the feels?

What if feeling something were interesting and non-threatening? What if you were willing to feel ANY feeling?  You were willing because you knew it didn’t have power over you.  You knew it was harmless.

If you are willing,  there would be nothing to fear.  If you were willing it wouldn’t be powerful.

Learn to look at your feelings.  Be able to describe them.  Name them. 

When you can, they no longer rule you.  When you can name them, you can contain them. You can allow them.  Experience them. 

And when we can allow our emotions and manage them, we will do a much better job managing our relationships.


When you experience unwanted feelings, you essentially:  indulge, resist or allow.

Indulging in the emotion, you give it what it wants like you have no choice. If it were a person, you give it the keys to your car while you hover in the backseat. 

Because it calls, you answer.

You experience all the drama.

You create the drama.

Maybe you curl up into a ball and sleep all day long.  You yell at your kids. You eat the whole box of Oreos.  

Or, perhaps you resist emotions.  Resisting is such an interesting one to me.  It looks smart and logical. And yet, it gives away so much power.

Resistance sees the emotions as so threatening and so it wards it off.

Resisting an emotion accomplishes the opposite of what you are trying to do. Like ignoring a child, it gets louder and louder until you answer.

The resisted emotion may come out in head or body aches, chronic pain, passive-aggressive comments, delayed road rage, overeating, over-drinking, face-booking, or unwarranted shopping sprees.

Resisting emotion is like trying to push a beach ball under the water.  You push it away, but it pops back up.  The more you resist it, the more your energy is taken by it.

You may hide your feelings like junk shoved in a closet, but eventually, the junk topples out. Eventually resisted emotions get the final say.

Resisting sadness turns into depression.  Resisting frustration turns into anger.  Resisting anxiety turns into debilitating fear.

What you are resisting is the equivalent of a monster in the corner of a child’s room.  It is when you avoid it that it has so much power.  Turn on the lights, quit hiding and face it head-on.  You will discover what you fear is a chair piled with clothes under dark shadows.

An alternative option, Allowing Emotions welcomes all feelings.

It is not threatened by them.  It is not indulgent.  It is not resisting.

It is warm and welcoming.  It is gentle. Kind.  Patient.

It does not give the proverbial car keys to the emotion.  It allows feeling but does not surrender to it.

If you are rushing to get through emotion, to get it done and over, then you aren’t allowing.

If you are forcing a new thought to create a new feeling but find the thought not sticking, it is because you are forcing the new emotion without first allowing the less preferred one.

As long as it takes, let an emotion linger until you know you have welcomed it without resisting.  If you have spent a lifetime canning your feelings, it may be days or weeks you experience that emotion.  It is harmless. It is when you resist or indulge it that you crown it with power. 

How do you allow the feeling without indulging? 

You Breathe it in.  And as you do, you let everything around you relax. Kind of like getting a shot. You know it will hurt, but you just let it happen and you know it will pass. 

As you experience the feeling you can describe it.  Where do you feel it in your body?  Is it hot, cold? Flat, sharp?  Light, dark?  Now name it.  Is it frustration or anger?  Annoyed or really sad?

When you become an observer of your feelings you are no longer fighting, judging, or being controlled by them.  You see feelings are not WHO you are. 

Once you allow yourself to experience emotion, it dissipates.

You will discover what is on the other side that you have been resisting.  And when you quit adding all the extra drama and consequences that come from your reaction, then you really do shorten its life.

Hearing about these concepts they are easy to understand. You may easily see some of your own tendencies.  And yet it is a practice.  It is building a new skill. A new habit.  It’s committing to a new way of life.

When you really open yourself up to experience all emotions, you will start to change your experiences and your marriage.