“The Curse of the Purse” by Marilyn Janke


Purses in my life represent a timeline of sorts. I first started using one in Gr. 6. I was euphoric when I was allowed to take one to school twice a week.  I stashed it with important things like tissues, a mirror, and my secret decoder ring.

In high-school, every girl had a purse, whether she needed it or not.  I graduated to a model with a shoulder strap the length of a clothesline wire.  Anything I thought I might need went into it.  No need for special self-defense moves or pepper spray here.  One swing of my purse would flatten the most unyielding attacker.

After marriage came church work and teaching school.  I was able to carry even more: prizes for kids, lesson plans, church bulletins, choir music. What if we were away from home and I needed my address book? What if my sunglasses broke and I needed a full set of those tiny screwdrivers?  Not a problem.

Nothing prepared my purse for motherhood.  The purse usually became part of the diaper bag.  I couldn’t get rid of it, because I still needed some kind of identification in case I lost my mind.

“Excuse me, ma’am.  Some one reported you wandering aimlessly on aisle 173 in front of the diaper section.  What is your name?”

“If you’ll wait just a minute, sir, I’ll just look in my purse.  I think I have it…oh, that’s the grocery list.”

Sunday was my purse’s busiest day.  Between the final “Amen” and the commencement of the handshakes, I became quite adept at scooping up cracker crumbs, broken crayons, and wadded bulletins and stuffing them into my purse.  You couldn’t have found a smoke alarm if it had gone off in there. But it wasn’t just the inside that got the attention.  Each week, more “graffiti” was added to the outside.  It even developed its own set of stretch marks.

It’s not that I was a slob, really.  It’s just that my purse was always in the next time zone. Cleaning it never really made it on my “to do” list (it was down there with “polish the underside of the piano bench with a toothbrush”).  It wasn’t that I didn’t have a good example.  My Mom’s purse was a masterpiece.  A total stranger could have found her way around in it.

“You need the pad of paper?  Go three pockets past the credit cards and turn left at the blue pen.”

She even knew if something was out of place.

“All right, who took the half-stick of gum that was between the last two pieces?”  I wouldn’t have known if a gerbil was living in mine.

“Mom, something in your purse bit me!”

“It was probably the hammer.”

Then one day, somewhere between the graham cracker era and the oldest kid’s driver’s license, it happened.  I realized I could whittle down my paraphernalia to some plastic cards, a pen, and a few ounces of make-up, all of it fitting in a purse the size of a zip-lock bag.  I could even snap it without having to sit on it.  The other day I actually walked around the block without it (of course, I needed a mask and a full tank of oxygen).  But I’ll get better.  Short jaunts at first, then maybe even a car ride.  For now I’ll just figure out how to pay for all the chiropractic visits for my curved spine.  Maybe I could get a job selling purses…

What are you packing around in your spiritual “purse”?  Maybe you’re constantly fretting about things beyond your control.  Have you ever shared such a circumstance with another person?  They appear to be calmly accepting the situation as the Lord’s will, and you want to scream, “How dare you not be worried about this?”

What else do you have stuffed in there?
Pride – do you have to be the center of every conversation?  Maybe you feel like you have it altogether.
Jealousy – do you tend to avoid speaking to other women at church because they appear to have everything that you don’t?
Bitterness – something that happened years ago is still in the bottom of your “purse,” and it’s causing you to be sarcastic, critical, moody, and/or demanding of others?
Self-pity – like Haman, did someone step on your ego?  Do you feel that no one cares?

These are just a few of the things we might be packing around in our purses.  We can’t rid our lives of this spiritual “junk” as quickly as we dump out our purse.  The first step in cleaning them out it to recognize and confess them as sin, and ask the Lord to remove them (1 John 5:14,15)  Confess them as often as you need to (1John 1:9).  Wait a minute….did you say sin? What about the medication I take for my depression?  How can you say it’s sin?  You just don’t know my situation. Yes, some of our problems may be physical, but most have a spiritual (Prov. 4:23, 23:7)

Then, thank God for the root of your problem (Phil. 2:13).  Is it a person?  A job?  Sounds strange, but try it—it works.

Ask God to fill you with His Spirit (Eph.5:18-20).  Think on Him, and He will give you peace (Phil. 6-9).



2 thoughts on ““The Curse of the Purse” by Marilyn Janke

  1. The funniest things in life are so because they’re true!

    While I don’t carry a purse I have carried around “baggage” similar to what you mentioned…

    We all need to do an inventory and get rid of the things in our lives that are holding us back.

    Thank you for this reminder!

    (I’ll get rid of all of it except that wadded up lump of used tissue paper)

  2. The Bible calls it “sins” and “weights” in Hebrews 12:1 …some are obviously a hindrance (even altogether destructive) to our moving forward, while other things are not so obvious, and may even be good things that are just too cumbersome to haul while trying to run the race. It’s good for all of us to “clean out our purse” from time to time!

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