Did you know that Americans make up approximately 5% of the world’s population, but we generate 30% of the world’s garbage? I think about 25% of that comes from my son’s room.

According to one study, each year U.S. industry moves, shovels, mines, extracts, wastes, burns, pumps and disposes of around four million pounds of garbage, just to provide for one middle-class family in our country. We waste about a million pounds per person annually. This includes 3.5 billion pounds of landfilled carpet, 19 billion pounds of polystyrene peanuts, 28 billion pounds of discarded food, and 3.7 trillion pounds of construction debris. That’s a lot of trash.

It’s a shame that so many things get used up and discarded. Wouldn’t it be great if everything were like a baseball glove that gets better, the more it’s used? Or like an old pair of boots. The more they’re worn, the more comfortable they get.

We humans get used, too. But the difference between us and an old carpet roll is that we have some say in how we get recycled. Sometimes our jobs wear us out, or other people take advantage of us, and little by little all the juice is sucked out of us until finally, we feel discarded and exploited, ready for the junk pile.

I’ve been there.

But we don’t have to feel that way. We can actually become more significant, the older we get and the more we’re used. It all depends on whom we allow to employ us.

When we devote our lives to money or fame or even to people who don’t care about us, we end up feeling depleted. But when we give ourselves to God, and allow Him to utilize us as vessels of His love, we get softer and more valuable. And the great thing about serving our Creator is that He formed each of us with unique gifts, talents, and a special purpose. When we let God guide our journeys, He’ll place us in situations where we get to employ those strengths. Each time we use our gifts for Him, it’s like a work-out. We get stronger and build our spiritual muscles.

I like the idea that I’m not really getting older. I’m just becoming more useful.

I’m glad we serve a green God. He’s all about taking spent lives and repurposing them in a way that’s beautiful and beneficial. And I love the idea that one day, when my body’s exhausted and I’m ready to move from this life to the next one, it won’t be because I’ve lost significance. I hope it will be because my value has exceeded my current position, and I’m simply being promoted.

Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly-perfect children, and far too many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.com.