Money or Memories

“Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself”

Luke 2:19 (The Message).


 Our family had been needing to have a garage sale all year. Since we live out in the country, we usually try to schedule them in the spring as that yields the best turnout. However, this year we seemed extra busy and kept putting it off, piling more stuff in our sunroom without having a date set. Finally, at the end of the summer, God gave me the green light and said, “Here’s your opportunity, you might want to take it.”

Even though my schedule had lightened, it was still busy and I enlisted the help of family members to price and set up the tables. I was in charge of the “baby items” my children had outgrown and began to display the clothes neatly. As I worked, I got sad. I chalked it up to long days, lack of energy, and wishing summer would last another two or three months.

However, the first day of the sale I noticed feeling twinges of sadness periodically as well. I thought I was just being selfish, not wanting to part with “our stuff” and mentally told myself to get a grip. It was taking up space, we needed room more than things, and it would be okay

The morning of the second day, I realized where the sadness was coming from. It wasn’t that I wanted more money or that I was sad per se about giving up the items. My melancholy feeling belonged to the happy memories attached to particular items, rather than the items themselves. For instance, the creamy soft blanket my husband bought for me the Christmas we found out we were adding a “bonus blessing” to our soon-to-be family of five. The blanket represented more than something to wrap our new bundle in. It was a tangible way for my husband to reassure me that even though our new addition hadn’t been in our plans, God had planned our family this way from the beginning and he was as happy as I was. Or, the Floppy Seat on which our youngest sat during our weekly grocery shopping escapades. A great reminder of the wonderful friendship with a cashier who was there faithfully, every week, with a smile and a hug, as I handed her my coupons and she helped me bag my groceries. Or the clothes which were passed down from my nephew to our firstborn, then my friend’s child, then back for our youngest. Clothes that were so needed when we found ourselves starting over again four years ago.

After having figured out what was really being grieved, the sadness went away. In Luke 2:19, we’re reminded how Mary pondered all these things in her heart. Back in Biblical times, they didn’t have photographs to remember special occasions and I assume clothes either wore out or were handed on down the line until they were used as rags.

Have you ever felt the same way?  Feelings are stirred up without knowing the original cause until later?

© 2013 Cheri Swalwell



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