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The Trash Bag Effect

When my husband and I were taking classes to become foster parents we were told about the trash bag effect. When children are moved suddenly (and often) within the foster care system, the easy thing to do is to throw their belongings into a trash bag to send with them. This was highly discouraged because of the message it sent to children.  The office that trained us even provided bags and suitcases to foster families to avoid the imprint on children that like trash, they are easily discarded.

When the call came to pick up our two adorable children from another foster family, trash bags were loaded into the back of our vehicle containing what belonged to them. After learning how this impacted children, I refused to bring them in the house. Out of sight of the children, I went through their belongings and put them away in their new rooms. Rooms that became their permanent rooms with their permanent family after we adopted them!

I have met a lot of people who are living with a spiritual trash bag effect. They carry their trash bag around with them wherever they go. In it are all of their past mistakes and hateful things others have said or done to them that they feel make them unloved and unworthy of connection and value. The heavy bag they lug around is a reminder that no one will ever want them and that love is for other people who don’t carry trash bags.

The truth is that we all have things that belong in the trash. But there is a place for trash bags and it is not on our backs, or piled in our homes or riding around in our cars with us. We take it to the dump, never to be seen or thought of again. I don’t know of a single garbage bag I have discarded that I have wasted time thinking about or going back to retrieve. When a person becomes redeemed by the blood of Jesus, that trash bag that has been filled to overflowing must go. Jesus’ blood washes us clean. We are then free of the things that belong in the trash.

To drag those things around with us and be continually reminded and convicted by them is an affront to the cross of Christ. He stood in our place and he took the punishments for all the garbage we once became so entangled with. “He raises up the poor from the dust, he lifts up the needy from the trash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor.” 1 Samuel 2:8.

We all go through some garbage in our lifetime, but it doesn’t define us as garbage and we are not disposable. We are valued and treasured by God. No matter what we go through He promises to never leave us or forsake us. The Bible is filled with people who dealt with their share of garbage but God chose to use them, he didn’t throw them away. He will do the same with you!

If you have been living with the trash bag effect in your life, it is time to throw it in the dump for good. The only way to do that is by looking to the cross of Jesus. It is at the cross that we will find freedom from our trash bag. Your bag does not have to follow you around anymore…you can get rid of it forever. During this Christmas season, we will empty a lot of trash. Each time you take the trash out remember this babe named Jesus came to do away with the trash bag effect.


Nadolyn has served in the local church for over thirty years. Creator of DIRT ROAD BELIEVER YouTube, Nadolyn delights in sharing her faith, family and community to help believers slow down and deepen their relationship with Christ.

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