You Can’t Put Things into Containers that Don’t Exist

You can’t put things in containers that don’t exist.

That might seem like common sense, but would the Lord told it to me last week, it was a freeing revelation.

I was trying to make twenty plus quarts of salsa, edit my book, and all the normal responsibilities of life. I was frustrated trying to figure out how to get it all done.

The idea of needing a container or a space for everything made perfect sense. I hope the idea helps you, too.

Things in your life that need a container


Tasks have at least three containers; time, energy, and focus. 

How much time do you need and when are you going to take that time? I neglected to accurately figure out how much time the salsa would take. Editing, too. This made my week too full. The time containers were full. Overfull. 

How much energy does a task take? Trying to but a high energy task at the end of a long day is going to be hard and likely frustrating, especially if you didn’t think about the energy it will take.

How much focus does a task need? Trying to do final edits while making dinner or my toddler interrupts will not go well. I need quiet to focus and be efficient. I can make dinner or fold laundry with my toddler and much less focus.


The main containers for papers are trash or recycling, and files. 

Throw away or recycle as much as you can. Our lives are quickly overrun with paper clutter if we don’t.

I have a super simple filing system that I love. (and still neglect to use far too often.) There is one for every month of the year and then a tax file for that year for two years. A total of 13 files. I have the tabs for the odd year one color and the tabs for the even year another.

We’re currently in 2019. It’s the odd year. So for the month of August that becomes the front folder. Any paperwork that arrives in August that I think I might need to reference goes in that file folder. When September comes, I pull out the September file, which will have stuff from 2017 in it because that was the last odd year. I quickly flip through and see if there’s anything that I still want to keep. And if I do, I can decide if it just stays in that folder or if I want to put it in another location. Typically everything just comes out and I throw it away. In a minute it’s ready to fill it for 2019. 

The files rotate each month. Papers relevant to taxes go in the tax folder for the year. 

Books, toys, stuff around the house

I have been looking around my house and seeing different things that are a mess. I’m realizing often I don’t actually have a container for the things that are out. The transitions of baby to toddler are faster than my adjustments to the house. It’s out of hand. First I need to clean stuff out, declutter. Then I can make containers, for the things I want to keep. 


The container He showed me for emotions is space to feel them. We need to know our emotions and be able to sit with them. When we do emotions have helpful information for us. Is there something we need to change, say, forgive? Do we have joy or gratitude we can share?

What information are you getting from this emotion? Do something helpful with it.

Truth or hard feedback 

This requires emotional space, too. A place to sperate the information from the emotions that often come with hearing hard things. Once you separate the emotion you can decide if the information is helpful and how to use it.

Being told, you’re focusing on the negative and what’s not working instead of looking at all that God has done, is hard to hear. Since I now have a container for feedback I can evaluate. I asked, “Is this true or not?” Sadly, yes, it is. So now what am I going to do with it? I’m going to start with being more aware of how I’m thinking and what I’m focusing on.

When I didn’t have a container for feedback it wounded me. I took it as someone criticizing me instead of my behavior.

“All” or “nothing” aren’t good containers, by the way.

What containers do you have? What containers do you need?

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