One of these days, if I die before Jesus comes back, all of my dearly beloved thrift store finds will find their way back to the thrift store or sold cheap at a yard sale. I kinda hate I’ll miss it ’cause I do love a good yard sale. Not really. Well, I do love a good yard sale, but Jesus is my real treasure!
He really is.
And there’s nothing quite like sorting through the contents of someone’s home and life to make you take stock of how you want to live and die. Since our marriage in 1987, we’ve said goodbye to all of our grandparents and our parents. I really didn’t expect to be the matriarch of the family at 50 but here I am in skinny jeans and flip flops trying to sort it out.
Speaking of yard sales, my sister and I had a big one this past weekend at my mom and dad’s house. We’ve spent weeks sorting through what we’d keep and what needed to find a new home. It’s not a easy task. Many of you reading this have been through it and a few of you are dreading it. I’d like to share what I’ve learned.
What I’ve Learned About Sorting and Selling Mamma and Daddy’s Stuff
- There will be tears. Lots and lots of tears. They’ll come when you least expect it and often at the most inconvenient times about the smallest things. Let them come. Don’t apologize. Don’t try to explain. Those who’ve been there will understand and be okay and those who’ve yet to be there will not understand and you can’t make them. Bear with them.
- There will be laughter. Lots and lots of laughter. You’ll laugh when you least expect it and often at the most inappropriate time. Laugh anyway. Laugh till you cry. Don’t apologize. Don’t feel ashamed. Laughter is good medicine. Again, those who’ve been there will understand and be okay and those who’ve yet to be there won’t and you can’t make them.
- There will be guilt. Lots of it at times. Mamma and daddy loved their home and worked hard over many years to make it a beautiful, inviting place to raise a family and serve others. And while it served it’s purpose during every moment of their life, their home and all of their things are not meant to serve the same purpose in our lives. We honor them by remembering their life, acknowledging their legacy, and letting go of the guilt that would hinder living the life God has purposed for us.
- Thee will be judgment and criticism. Lots of it at times. It’ll be passed out with a smile and hug when you least expect, by those you least expect, which makes it hurt even more. Let it fall. Let the judgmental words and shaming opinions and two-cents-worth suggestions fall right in front of you where and when they’re spoken. Don’t receive them. Don’t go back and pick them up later and dissect them. And for goodness sake, don’t pass them along. Silence is golden at times like this. Awkward? Maybe. But I’ve found it’s the best way to deal with those people who want to point out that the grass needs cutting, and the grave needs flowers, and the house and everything in it should be enshrined forever. Which brings me to my final thought:
- There will be one thing you can’t sort and sell. Memories. No matter how hard you try you can’t sort a memory. Like tears and laughter, memories come when you least expect them. They can be triggered by the words of a song or a scent from the kitchen. Embrace the good ones. Let the painful ones fade. And remember that you certainly can’t sell them.
- I can sell daddy’s old boots but not the miles we walked together in the woods.
- I can sell daddy’s beloved hound dogs but not the howls that echo through the hollow.
- I can sell mamma’s dishes but not the thousands of meals prepared with love.
- I can sell mamma’s sewing machine but not the hours I watched her measure, cut and stitch.
- I can sell their camper but not the joy and laughter around a crackling camp fire.
As old friends and acquaintances came by their house for the yard sale, we were reminded that the stuff we sorted on racks and tables wasn’t mamma and daddy’s treasures. Their real treasure and our inheritance is Jesus. For hours we laughed and cried and reminisced. It was a good day.
Even in their death they’re impacting how we live. In their absence, we march on in faith, hard work, and sweet fellowship because our hope is in the Lord.
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. I Corinthians 15:54-58
One day I’ll leave this world and all my kids will be fightin’ over who gets the good junk. Not really. I’ve made them promise they’ll just buy some pizza and bag it all up and haul it to the thrift store. ‘Cause you can’t sort and sell the memories if you wanted to you and a yard sale would hardly be worth the trouble. But mostly because I pray that Jesus will always be their greatest treasure.