Saturday, September 02, 2006

Things Look Good

In preparations for the school year, one of our teachers cleaned the junior high class room and was removing a wheelbarrow full of old books. She wasn't throwing them away, just removing them to make more room to keep things neater in her room. With the wheelbarrow parked by the door, I started looking through them one by one and got excited. Without searching long, I found three or four I thought would be great for my twelve year old daughter---books about horses and dogs by outstanding authors fifty to one hundred years ago. We've had all of these books in that jr. high room for ten years. I was able to observe something about myself in a moment of self-revelation. Things look good when we are getting ready to throw them away. We have a difficult time parting with our things.

I know I have boxes at home with belongings that I might not look at again the rest of my life. Some of them I will only look at. They will be of no use to me. And yet, I don't want to throw them away. Why do we save these things? They mean something to us. We're afraid that we will miss them if we throw them away. We attach sentimental value. We smile when memories flood our minds upon looking at and touching these things. They connect us to our past. They take up space. Ooops. Did I write that? Do we value the space more than we do the object? I guess not, or else we would throw away the object.

I have at least five four- or five-drawer filing cabinets full of materials. I usually say that "I don't want to reinvent the wheel." If I've done it once, and file it, I won't need to do it again. They have come in handy in some ways. Sometimes I think that I have wasted too much of my life filing them or having them filed, while I could have been doing other things. Of course, then the computer came along, and we save so much that in our lifetime we could never even reread the articles, let alone use them. OK, they are a reference. You don't read reference books; I don't think, unless you have some strange syndrome. You use them.

Did I say anything about rummage or garage sales? Some people with way too many things go look for treasures in someone's front lawn or drive-way. I can judge, I guess, because I don't do it. I realize, dear readers, that some of you have made-out like "bandits" at garage sales with heavy documentation of the worthwhile nature of these pursuits. And we have had the sales themselves at times. We sell old things that we bought new, but now we don't need. I do believe that some of them were given to us. We accepted them at some point or at least agreed to possess them, and then later sold them after storing them for awhile. When I see people so excited to buy these items, I sometimes wonder if I should be keeping them. I quickly block that thought, flush it from my mind. No way. Good decision on my part. After they're gone, I don't feel anything for them and haven't missed any of them. I guess that's proof that I didn't need them or even want them.

The feeling I have for things might just be a lie. Things just look good. Haven't you gone through a store and had an impulse for something that you didn't need and shouldn't even want? You shouldn't have even entertained the thought. But you did. Because things look good. Food does too. That can explain the need for diets and a huge chunk of exercise works off food we shouldn't have eaten that we thought we wanted. I think this all started for me at Ben Franklin's dime store in Covington, IN, walking up and down those rows of things. Caps. Little green army men. Super bouncy balls. Harmonica. 1000 piece puzzle. You can stop salivating. You know what I'm talking about.

How many times have you walked through one of those 99 cent stores? They are an excuse looking for a place to happen. I bought it for only....a ridiculous price. You just got the deal of a century that will end up in a box, then in a garage sale. Good job! I really don't need high powered binoculars. They still look good. So did that power stapler that I walked by at Home Depot today on the way to get a toilet part to fix something in the tank. I bought one extra counter light, one more than what I needed. Why? Others are sure to burn out. Plus it looked good.


Throwback 13 said...

* I often buy a book because I know it is a bargain now (either because it is used or it is remaindered) and I think that some day I will find a good use for it. That is why I have about 2,000 books and sends me love letters.
* Many things I keep just because I know I won't be able to find them when I really need them.
* But then, both my parents lived through the depression. My Dad even went to Bible school during the depression.
* Then there are other things I keep because I truly love them, and all of them are people.
* Best of all, there is One that keeps me around because to Him I am very valuable. He sent his Son to die in my place. He keeps me - FOREVER!
* Just thinking through my hat ...
* ... Joel

Anonymous said...

Keeping your "stuff" is most likely akin to being within your own comfort zone. I love my stuff around me regardless if it is good or not; pretty or ugly; useful or useless. It's my stuff which makes it very personal. Every time I decide to "downsize" by getting rid of that stuff, I seem to become soft, mushy and melancholy, not in a bad way but thinking of those people whose lives are represented by "MY STUFF". I sometimes hold a book in my hand and think of the time and person that was kind enough to give it to me. Nope, never did get around to reading it, but that's not the important thing.
I have a small box of totally "unrecognizable" stuff from I can't remember where. I would get rid of it, but what if I need it before I leave here? You just never know about that stuff...but then again it does'nt really take up much space. I'll just let sleeping dogs lie.


Don Johnson said...

Kent, you should do a study of the Hebrew word 'segolah'. It is used in Mal 3.16 for one, translated 'jewels'. I heard one of my professors talking about the word, it means a valued possession. He used the illustration of some of his daughter's art work that he keeps, done when she was five. It is of no value to anyone else, but 'segolah' to him. That's the word picture in Mal 3.16 where God speaks of his 'jewels', those who fear him.

It's a word that makes for good preaching, and fits with all the stuff we find 'precious'. As Joel said above, I am valuable to God, not by anything intrinsic, but by God's estimation. Will anyone bring a charge against God's elect? Not hardly, eh?

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Kent Brandenburg said...

Joel, very funny.

ILA, mushy, melancholy, and misty. Good points.

Don, I'll look up that word and see where it brings me. Amazing memory of one of your professors. You mean you learned something in school?