The Slop Bucket

Yesterday I met a friend for coffee.

This is one of the great bonuses of having my son home from college. He needs money. I need time. My girls need activity. So off they went to Monkey Joes- a crazy indoor playground that is the delight to many a child and the cause of many a head throb to over-holidayed moms.

Not that I was feeling like I needed a break from all the family togetherness.

But my friend needed me.

Thank the sweet heavens above my friend needed me and offered to buy me a coffee.

So, we met and chatted. We processed a situation I wish we didn’t have to process- mean people.

I know I should say that people aren’t mean. Just sometimes people do mean things. And I know there are always two sides to every story. Glory be do I ever realize there are two sides. But during the holidays when nice is usually served up in high fashion, even the slightest meanness can seem really huge.

And knowing my friend spent way too many days crying during these holidays made me sad. For her. For them. For the reality that we Christians can be mean sometimes. We can be sharp and cutting and too tired to find the right words.

Last week I got an e-mail from someone who was too tired to find the right words. I still don’t understand what caused her to be in such a tiff. And though I made my fingers type words back to her that were gentle and graceful, I will admit that what I really wanted to do was get in her face and tell her a thing or two. Boy did I have the perfect comeback. Because I can be mean. Just like those people that hurt my friend.

We are all more alike than we’d care to admit.

And not that I want to wax philosophical on this Tuesday morning, but I here I go anyhow.

There’s a bucket inside each heart where hurts are dumped. Little hurts, big hurts, past hurts- they all get dumped into this slop bucket. We think we’re fine because the hurts are contained. We think we’ve dealt with the hurts because they aren’t rising to the surface that often. But then someone comes along and kicks that slop bucket with a mean word or two and it spills over.

Sloshing. Spilling. Leaking. Staining. And every word we speak in response carries some of what’s in our slop bucket.

So here’s the thing.

Slop can be good if it’s been turned into compassion. Some people have let Jesus touch their slop mixing in mercy, grace, forgiveness, and a love that reaches just beyond what we’re capable of on our own.

But too many of us have let our slop bucket sit and ferment in pride, resistance, my right to be right, and bitterness that cuts off our potential to grow into the woman we’re designed to become. So, instead of compassion, the harshest judgement drips out with each of our words.

Compassion. Judgement. The reality that every Jesus girl has a slop bucket.

These are good things to think about over coffee when you’ve sent your kids to Monkey Joes.


  1. Anonymous says

    great post lysa. sometimes this season is less jolly and more folly as people are under enormous pressure and may not rise to the occasion as they would like. i know i am guilty of this myself. just recently i was asking a friend if while driving and listening to christian music does that negate my evil thoughts towards the other drivers who can not drive or does that increase their meaness because i know better?

  2. says

    been there lately. especially with family that does not follow christ. it is hard to not be christlike.
    or worse when other christians treat you like dirt. it is so hard to show them love.
    but as a pastor said, we might be the only Jesus they say.
    thanks for your post.

  3. Anonymous says

    I have lots to ponder today as I allow God to look into my heart and begin to heal and reheal some of the past hurts that I have let turn into bitterness.

    Thank you for your honest approach to life and writing what God places on your heart.

  4. says

    Lysa, this is reminding me of how I was challenged by a verse Lynn Cowell shared earlier this month. In fact, I was so challenged by it, I feel God desiring it to be my "theme" verse for 2010. (He gives me one every year.)

    "Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable." Romans 11:17 NLT

    This verse just encompasses so much. Our speech, action, responses, ministry etc… A 'thing' can be anything named specifically or not specifically.

    Praying that my "slope bucket" which can do such sloshing, spilling and staining, will be surrendered and spilled out to the only One who can empty it's contents safely and fill it with Himself.

    Thanks for this continued Word today,

  5. Anonymous says

    Praying for the hand of Jesus to empty my very full slop bucket. Thank you, Lysa, for reminding us that even Jesus girls have them and we need to let Him take it or it will fester and ferment and leak all over the very people that He asked us to love.
    God bless you today.

  6. says

    I needed to hear this today – especially after last night. My husband relayed to me something hurtful my mother had said about me that just sent me off. I lost all of my peace just in that one second. sigh…

    Hope your kids enjoyed Monkey Joes. One of my little ones is afraid of the mascot!

  7. Anonymous says

    Wow Lysa – this is so timely, I think this will be my meditation today. My ex didn't just kick over my slop bucket yesterday evening, it felt like he picked it up and threw it on me! My flesh wanted to give him a good what-for, but after crying my heart out for an hour, I decided it wasn't worth it and just asked God to deal with him instead. I got out of the house for a while and by the time I came back from my errands, I had a whole new perspective and attitude. I'm going to memorize and think about Romans 12:17 today too – what a great goal for 2010.

  8. says

    My slop bucket has been overflowing! You're so right…hurts snowball and grow into an enormous stumbling block of sin in our life.
    I have felt so crummy for so long over junk that my family has experienced (as if Jesus didn't know my issues!!).
    That it's festered into a real downer!
    I want to live victoriously….but man it's so hard when "mean" people bring us down.
    I need a major bucket dumping party! Making that a priority as this 09 year comes to an end.'

    Thanks Lysa! I needed that!

  9. says

    Hate that slop bucket….why are we so emotional? I hate it the most when I let it spill out on my family. Only by the grace of God we can get rid of this "bucket".

    Been there…done that…

    In his Graces~Pamela

  10. says

    Are you a fly on my wall??? I've had some very hurtful dealings with two of my siblings since my Daddy and my stepmother passed away during the past two years. I think that I have dealt with the "meanness" they have dished out and then, just as you said, something comes up and all the bitterness comes washing back over me! Pray that I will be able to let GRACE overcome the bitterness.

    God bless you sister!

    Marilyn…in Mississippi

  11. says

    Loved the slop bucket metaphor. Thank you for that – and for the reminder that we are all mean at times. Why is it we're more forgiving of our own meanness than we are in others? Same thing can be applied to our selfish nature. We can detect selfish deeds of others but seem to rationalize our own selfish nature. Great words. You are such a joy to read!

  12. says

    Great timing. . .what to do when the person who hurts you most is a parent? How do I stand by my husband who was beaten up with my dad's words and still be the forgiving daughter God intended me to be. . .such a beautiful holiday turned to slop on Sunday. What to do? What to do?

  13. says

    This spoke volumes to me this morning. I feel i am in the right about a situation with my husband, but ya know what? He needs my compassion with it today, not my judgement.
    Thank you!

  14. Anonymous says

    Lysa,I couldn't agree with you more. I'm sure everyone has a slop bucket, but everyone also deals with their own differently. My question is how to get over it & forgive? I don't want to let it steal my joy, but it does. I hate that I allow the devil to that to me, but that is how I feel inside. Of course I know it's wrong & not the way a good Christian girl should think or be. I am mad! I am upset & I don't want to feel that way, so what do I do??? How do I get over the hurt,resentment,& unforgiveness?

  15. Amy V. says

    An 'AH-HA' moment! I've had plently of "slop" in the bucket of my heart and it's over-flowed waaaaay too many times. A 'good christian girl' like me shouldn't let that happen, right? Well, it happens and yet I hang on to Jesus and He's helping me add mercy, grace, patience, forgiveness, etc to that bucket. I truly believe He can use those icky circumstances for my good and for the good of those around me.

    Today's my birthday and He used your blog to touch my heart in such a meaningful way….like an extra-special birthday present! Thanks!! 🙂

    Unfortunately there will always be mean people (or people who do mean things) this side of eternity….BUT GOD is bigger and better than any amount of mean-ness. (Is that a word?!)

    Thanks again for your post.

    -Amy V.

  16. Anonymous says

    God knew I needed to read this post this morning, bc it prepared me for a blow from a very mean person later today! I wanted so badly to lash back out at them and dump my slop bucket on their head, but instead I had a good cry and talk with God.

  17. Heather, Dublin, Ireland says

    You must have been reading my mind, or listening in on my prayers this morning, or perhaps this issue just rears its ugly head during the holiday times. I'm about to visit my in-laws and I've been praying for the grace needed to love them and to be loving. It's not easy sometimes! I admit I make mistakes. I say things I shouldn't or take offense at things I shouldn't. Especially when we're stressed and tired and spending lots of time together… So I've been praying for more compassion, more love, more grace, more peace, more mercy, more Jesus!

    "The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands." Proverbs 14:1

    O Lord, humble us and help us all to be wise women who build up our homes and families with your lovingkindness. Let us show your love to your people. In Jesus' name, I pray.

  18. Anonymous says

    I thank God for you. I love the way you put things, I'm a Southern girl myself, so you crack me up but you speak truth to us "everyday" girls trying to get by. Thank you so much for being God's tool. You open my eyes everyday and put a smile on my face.

  19. says

    Monkey Joes sounds like a fabulous place! We have a place called Jungle Jyms that is probably very similar:-). This was a really good post. I had an amazing and very wise grandmother who always advised us to keep a short list of accounts…it's like regularly emptying out the slop bucket so it doesn't get all fermented and yucky. You reminded me that my slop bucket needs addressing and emptying. BTW, I asked for your Bible Study Girl book for Christmas and got it!!!! Oh happy day!
    Hope your family had an amazing Christmas! Blessings, Marilois

  20. says

    I am someone who can rip apart a person with my tongue. I don't even have to yell.

    It use to be something that I was proud of… It was "Witt". Boy if I could tear you down, it made me better…right?

    So wrong. The Lord has really spoken to me in this area. I often pray for Him to show me all areas that are still rotten. He took me up on this request blessedly.

    I am a reformed Tongue Lasher. I have even apologized to quite a few that got to experience who I was. I am so grateful for God's correction in this area.

  21. says

    I regularly challenge myself with this saying:

    A cup filled with sweet water
    Cannot spill one bitter drop

    I wish I could say I live up to it, but every now and then, a splash of slop still tips out. Out of the heart the mouth speaks. So Lord, clean out and renew my heart!

  22. says

    This is definitely good stuff to ponder. By the way, I made a trip to the office supply store today and while I was looking at all those lovely office supplies I thought of you,and since I was thinking of you…I prayed for you.

  23. says

    You've totally inspired me!!! There's some slop spilt within the hearts contained in these here four walls! And you've brilliantly penned words that have inspired an illustration to use with my kiddos in helping them understand this better. THANK YOU!! (Perhaps I should get back to you about the results of the 'illustration' to let you know how it goes… smile.)

  24. says

    Lysa, I love this. I have recently come across a "mean girl" and the thing is I was fooled at first…I thought she was the greatest thing since sliced bread! 🙂 But I know our words can be so sharp and we have to be careful how we respond. I struggle with not being mean back but not looking like I have no backbone. You know? It's a very fine line. Thanks for this post! Loved it!

  25. Anonymous says

    I needed to be reminded about what comes out of my cup when 'bumped'… often pent up hurt that found an 'opportunity' to be unleashed..
    I need to bring this to the Lord today, thank you.

  26. says

    I wish I could live up to Jesus girl everytime, but fail many times! Thansk for the reminder and thanks to joyful for that scripture! GOOD ONE!
    God Bless!

  27. Anonymous says

    me too…its hurtful parents that just won't quit..manipulative, must have it their way…I am currently under fire for not letting my kids ride with him after he ran his truck off in a ditch because he was mad….I have a full slop bucket and everywhere I look, God keeps telling me to give it to Him….I still struggle with subjecting my kids to this behavior..

  28. says

    Guilty as charged. I was kinda thinking about this the other day – not the slop bucket, but how we tend to act differently, yes, meaner, w/ some people, usually those we know & love. And how much easier it is to be caring & gracious to strangers than, say, our own mothers-in-law, even when they're sick & might or might not be in the emergency room. Oh, how awful we (I!) can be! So many times I saw my own eyes looking at me & my "inconvenience" rather than her & her suffering & need.

    OK, these 2 may not be related, but kinda are…

    Thanks for another great blog that tugs at my stumbling heart. ♥

  29. says

    Looking forward to the day when we don't even HAVE to drag around a slop bucket. Until then, may God give us grace, grace and more grace.

    Love to all my sisters in Christ ~

  30. says

    Thanks Lysa. First of all…I want your son to come take MY kids to Monkey Joes so I can go have coffee with a girlfriend. sigh……..

    But, alas, those days are WAY off for me.

    Regarding the actual point of the post (and not the part where I literally got stalled in self pity) I started out reading this post with someone else in mind and ended up deciding I was the mean person too.

    Not an easy thing to accept.

    So thanks.

    Love you, sweet friend!!!


  31. says

    Lysa – this reminds me of what Beth Moore said in one of her series. She did a session on 'mean girls" and it was really eye opening. To realize that we all have a mean girl living inside of us is very humbling.

    THanks for this great post today!


  32. says


    I read every post you write. Almost daily I feel like the words you write are just for me.

    Today, was especially for me. Thank you.

    You have a way of reaching into our hearts and working what the Lord would have us deal with. Neat.

    It's not usually tidy but it is freeing and it is Jesus. You are a rich blessing in my life. Hugging you. Happy 2010. Hugs, Lynn

  33. says

    It never fails…. it is less than an hour away from the new year. Promising myself that 2010 is a year for change and for my writing/speaking career to take flight…. when a loved one kicks my slop bucket for not truly understanding the path I have chosen to follow intently and intensely….. Thank you for this post….. it helped me to understand that following God is worth the slop bucket being kicked.

  34. says

    Wow. Thank you for this. It reminds me of the part of Proverbs that says, "Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life." I guess sometimes even the slop bucket can be a wellspring, huh?

  35. says

    Very good Lysa. I vented awhile ago on my blog about a woman who continuously is mean to people. I wish I would've talked or rather listened to God before I blogged. Just would've been better to put Jesus first instead of my frustration. 🙂
    Love to you.
    I'll see you in Overland Park this month!!! Can't wait.

  36. says

    Lysa there is a lot of wisdom in your thinking! I was trampled on this Christmas by a family member and I have been searching for understanding and tiring of forgiving her. Thanks for these words and for reminding me of what is Really Important. XXOO, Steph.

  37. says

    Oh my – while you were writing this, I was living it. And now looking back, my bucket was less full of the foul than it was 5 years ago but still had more fermenting than I wish it was. More hurt than angry was an improvement over the venom I would have spewed before but nowhere near the Christ-like compassion I long for. Thank you for the reminder of what I'm striving for and the comfort that I'm not alone.