What’s In Your Trash Basket?

Gwen SmithBlog, Devotions, Forgiveness 14 Comments

Perfectly Forgiven

A four-year-old girl was overheard reciting the Lord’s Prayer, “and forgive us our trash baskets, as we forgive those who pass trash against us.” When I first heard that story, I smiled. Then I thought of a conversation I had had recently with a girlfriend.

She is a Christian friend. But though she has “emptied her trash basket” of sin before the Lord in sincere repentance, she has not emptied the trash basket of self-condemnation. Not completely. She won’t allow it. She struggles deeply to let go of mistakes she made in her past. She holds the trash basket lid on tightly. To be free of that waste doesn’t seem fair in her mind.

She is haunted by shame. Haunted by mistakes that are no longer remembered by a holy God. Haunted by sins that have been cast as far as the east is from the west.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. (Psalm 103:11-13)

These memories don’t live in her past. They live in her now. They haunt her regularly like a spine-chilling horror film monster. And as much as she would like to move forward in forgiveness, she just can’t find the courage to scare the monster away.

In the New Testament book of John, chapter 8, we meet a woman caught in the act of adultery. The legalistic teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought her before Jesus. They publicly humiliated her in front of all the town’s people, saying to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” (John 8:4-5)

Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger as they continued to question him. Finally, “He straightened up and said to them, ‘“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground” (John 8:7-8).

The crowd eventually thinned to nothing. The older, wiser men cleared first. Then the younger ones trickled away. When the adulterous woman and Jesus were the only ones remaining:

“Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:10-12).

My sister, do you see that our holy Lord delights to show us mercy? He does not condemn us as we deserve. Time and time again, Scripture reveals merciful pictures of forgiveness. The woman in this story was guilty when she was brought to face Jesus, but as she left His presence, her guilt was forgiven. Her trash basket was empty.

When we turn to face Jesus with repentant hearts, our guilt is forgiven as well.


This account of the adulterous woman teaches us about forgiveness and it also teaches us a valuable lesson about judging and condemning others. But what does this lesson teach us about judging ourselves? My friend that I spoke of earlier carried around a trash basket filled with junk she threw in herself. Sure, it was accompanied by trash from other people to, but the lingering condemnation came from memories of decisions she had made, things she had done, places she had been, and brokenness she has experienced because of her own choices. In her heart, she accepts the forgiveness of Jesus, but she can’t bear to forgive herself. So many women won’t forgive themselves.

I’ve been that woman.

I know that woman.

I know that self-loathing. I’ve lived it. I’m not going to sit here and try to tell you that forgiving yourself is easy. It’s hard—and, in a lot of ways, it should be! But I can testify that it wasn’t until I prayerfully allowed the stubborn, strong, and unconditional love of Jesus to pry my fingers off the lid of my trash basket and empty the condemning contents, that I experienced true freedom and complete forgiveness.

Is there something that you have not been able to forgive yourself for?

My friend, we need to stop beating ourselves up for sins of our past. We need to stop allowing guilt and shame to chain us to unproductive living. Jesus humbled Himself by becoming human, endured an excruciating death, and then defied the grave in His resurrection so that we could be restored to a place of complete healing. Complete healing.

Second Corinthians 5:21 states that “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” If you are in Christ, the Bible says that your guilt was paid for on the cross of Calvary. Jesus carried the sins of the world on His shoulders so that you would not have to carry them on yours.

If you are holding on to un-confessed sin, the time has come for you to release your grip. God’s Word promises that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).


None of us are perfect, just perfectly forgiven in Christ. Take your hand off the lid and allow the Lord to empty your trash basket of every last condemning voice once and for all. Embrace the freedom that Jesus intends for you to live in.

Holy Father, Your mercy defies logic.  I don’t deserve it, and I don’t understand how You could possibly forgive me for all that I have done.  Please take my trash basket and empty it.  Forgive me today and help me to forgive myself, and others, so I can live freely in Your amazing grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


RESPONSE TIME: Ready to give and receive forgiveness? Leave this comment below: “Today I choose to forgive and to be forgiven.” Additionally, post a prayer need or let me know what the Lord is taught you or reminded you about through this post.

Thanks for doing life with me,


** This post is an excerpt from my book Broken into Beautiful. My full testimony is featured in the book, along with Scriptural truths and stories of how God has brought restoration the hearts of many other women who had painful life wounds. God delights to transform lives … including your own. Experience God’s healing and hope in your life today as you read Broken Into Beautiful! **

PS: If you connected with this devotion, subscribe to my newsletter. Big Bonus: when you subscribe to the newsletter, you will receive a free song download of my new song Quiet Me ! How fun is that?

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Comments 14

  1. Whoosah. You hit on every nail gf, I thought I am the only one who held on to those issues of the past. Your site is a blessing. Thank you for being you.

  2. Thank you so much for this devotion today. I have struggled many,many times of my past sins. Finally, however since I have put my all in, and follow the Lord 100%, there finally are not controlling me as much. I’m letting the power of the Holy Spirit control my life completely now, instead of just my self. He knows us through and through,and to trust in Jesus to control our lives it is a lot better than to follow him then what the world does. That is all what boils down to when we live in the Spirit, and not in the flesh we can throw all away that trash that keeps down and out. And finally come to the point of forgiveness of ourselves, and have a wonderful,and glorious life. The freedom we deserve when we have a true an pure relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord. Praise the Lord!!!!

  3. “those who past trash against us”,…….. forgiving ourselves is hard but forgiving a repeated sin against us, even harder. why? a fellow Christian who keeps doing the same thing over and over is it funny? or cute? not to me… he knows its wrong. I know its wrong. he moves past it, but I cant. I hold on to the sin of not forgiving him time and time again. its exhausting. its frustrating. im tired of the ‘little g’ god. gets more priority than me. it is affecting my relationship with him and ultimately my relationship with God. I see that now. getting ready to take out the trash. a repeated chore that I pray will turn into a blessing. thank you for exposing my sin.

  4. Thank you for this devotional. I feel like the Lord gave this to me today b/c specifically this morning, the enemy reminded me of a mistake I made even though I know the Lord forgave me. Off and on, the enemy reminds me of it and it’s overwhelming at times. Thank you. I will remember to “take out the trash” and keep it far from me. We all know how bad trash smells! 🙂

  5. Thank you so much for this devotional. I have struggled with forgiving myself of sins I have committed. It has been a struggle and I’m so thankful that I was able to read it today. May God bless you and yours. Please pray for me.

  6. Gwen, this is the best Bible study I have ever had. I want to thank you for letting God speak through you to us, and thank God for speaking, and caring so much. I have had so many issues with anger since I re-married, I have seriously considered that it was the wrong thing to do, that I should have remained single. God spoke to me after I prayed your prayer, and I realized that I am angry with myself for my behavior during my years of being single. Now I realize that Satan has been attacking me in my most vulnerable spot, and God wants to cover that spot up with His healing bandage, but I just keep ripping it off! Lol, why are we so self-destructive sometimes? Anyway, I feel so cleansed, and so much lighter. I feel like literally, black gunk has been cleaned out from inside me by Jesus. I am trying to figure out how to get your song, I don’t have anything “I” (iPad, iPod, iTouch, etc.), but I would love to listen to it every morning on my computer. Thank you so much!!!

  7. Thank you for this devotion. I have been struggling w a lot of anger towards a family member who is very difficult to get along with. I am questioning whether if I am ready to get baptized sunday, and your devotion really helped me out

  8. Gwen this devotion was very sentimental for me. I know God forgives me and I know he has forgiven my past, but I don’t know why I keep letting the past choices be the final answer for my life. If I didn’t know and believe that God forgives and has forgave me, I really would be a complete wreck. I confess over and over and over again I guess it’s because i hate that I let him down. Like David acknowledged to God it is you Lord who I have sinned against. I want to please the Lord and I know he doesn’t condemns us, but it’s hard sometimes to move past disappointment and hurt. Thank you for this devotion and I’m moving on, fighting kicking and screaming if I have to to let the lid off the TRASH CAN!

  9. Gwen, Thank you for this so much! I have made some bad decisions in the past and though I have accepted the Lord’s forgiveness, I have not quite let it sink in. Sometimes my past creeps up and causes anxiety in me. I need to learn to empty my trash basket!!! Thank you so much!!!

  10. Gwen
    Thank you for this devotional this morning. I have been struggling with my worth and not being good enough, and for the things that are in my trash basket. God has been so faithful and patient to show me His love and forgiveness, and this was another step in that direction and helping me to open the lid. Your song was what I needed to hear as I start this morning. Thank you. I know God is in the process of cleaning out the basket. As I heard when I was younger, Under Construction – God’s not done with me yet. Praise the Lord for that!!!!

  11. Gwen,
    I have been listening for months around the clock (I made a CD and just copied your song “Quiet Me” off iTunes so that it would just loop and loop and loop) and I literally would let that CD play for hours and just sit! It spoke to me in ways you can not even begin to understand it was a source of a cry of my heart and a prayer, but yet encouragement also.

    I have been leaving you messages on your FB page to contact me because I want to share something with you, but after not hearing from you, I decided that you either must not be the one reading that page or that you just didn’t want to or have the time to do so. So, I gave up on the idea.

    But after reading your blog today (through “Girlfriends in God” and I saw the link to your blog, I again was taken back to respond hoping that you will read this comment and respond to my request to share something with you, but since it is private in nature I would never do so in this forum. If you would send me an email so I could email back to you, I so would appreciate that and if you’d rather not send me a quick response either so I know to just drop my pursuit!

    I am so thankful to God for your music that resonates in my soul to the very core part of my being!

    Suzanne (seculpepper4969@gmail.com)

    1. Thanks for going over the Scripture about the sinner woman who was caught by the teachers of the law. The way Jesus reacted is amazing. His heart is amazing and is everything we need for the welfare of our blamed souls.

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