Fill Buckets, Don’t Kick Them

I’ve been watching various versions of the story below play out on social media and in real life for months now. May we be mindful and careful of what we decide to toss out and who we decide to shut out.

You and I each have a bucket.

It can be filled with water, sand, rice, grain…whatever works for you.

(It’s not a real bucket. It’s a metaphor.)

Every time I lift you up, encourage you, help you or work with you to make good things happen, your bucket fills up a little more. Your actions fill up my bucket as well.

But when I do something you don’t like, or when you do something to hurt me or when we do something to tear each other down (intentionally or unintentionally–it doesn’t matter), a little bit of the sand or water or rice or grain spills out.

If we have a good relationship, our buckets stay pretty full. There is more filling up than spilling out.

But then I did that thing.

The thing you didn’t like.

The thing you that made you look at me differently.

The thing you were sure was done to hurt you.

And you kicked over the whole bucket…

All the good times

The good will

The good deeds

The great strides

All spilled out, discarded and forgotten

You kicked your bucket, and then you turned it upside down so that I could never fill it up again.

Some things, some actions, some statements may deserve a permanent upending of the bucket, but not everything. Was the wrong done to you worthy of erasing a lifetime of bucket filling?

Know that, while my bucket isn’t full, it’s holding on to remnants of who we used to be. It remains upright. And I remain ready to fill up your bucket whenever you’ll let me.

It’s hard right now, but let’s not close off our buckets or give up on filling the buckets of others.


Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer provides tools and encouragement for the rollercoaster ride of your faith journey. Follow me on Facebook , Instagram and YouTube. Get emails to keep up with all that is happening.

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