You buy something new or someone gives you a special present. It might be expensive. Perhaps not. But that isn’t the point. It’s new. And perfect. And shiny. And then WHAM, the first time out, something happens to it and all of a sudden your brand new thing ain’t so brand new anymore.
Talk about heartbreak! If you could just turn the hands of time back a few seconds, all would still be perfect, but alas, that isn’t possible. So you pout and wallow in your disappointment and regret.
It Can Be Different
I’m going to change the way you look at this type of disappointment. Right here. Right now. Forever.
Last month I had the pleasure of going to California for a special young lady’s high school graduation. I was visiting family I hadn’t seen in quite some time and we were having a ball. Retelling old stories, laughing, preparing for a graduation party, hanging out, and in general, just having a super great time.
On the day of the graduation, we decided to go to the mall and grab a few last minute items. While browsing through a fabulously great smelling and fancy department store, I spotted some shoes I fell in love with. They were perfect!
Now you need to know I am NOT like this. I’m NOT wrapped up in shoes and I’m definitely not an impulse buyer. Usually I spend weeks comparing products, checking for the lowest prices, and searching for coupons. I can honestly drive myself nutz! So to spot a pair of shoes, hurry to try them on, and even consider taking them home with me had me way out of my element. It was actually a little surprising, but oh so fun!
It was a girl’s shopping trip and I hadn’t had one of those in forever. Excitement was in the air and I was in the mood. With my family egging me on, I bought the shoes. God bless the cashier who used a store coupon to assuage my guilt.
There. I had done it! A spontaneous purchase. I loved the shoes and they would go perfectly, not only with the dress I brought to wear, but with a few other outfits I was putting together at home for an upcoming vacation.
It was all kinds of glorious! I was on a high. It’s a good thing we had to get ready for the festivities because I was just finding my groove and might have likely done a bit more damage shopping if I’d had the time.
That evening, on my shoes’ maiden voyage out, while walking into the graduation ceremony, I stubbed my foot, bent the front part of the shoe backwards, and scratched fabric off the tip of my beautiful, brand new, magnificent shoe.
I WAS DEVASTATED. And so very sad. Talk about bursting my balloon.
Granted, it was just a small scratch, but for me, it was all I saw every time I looked down. It wasn’t leather which could be buffed and shined, or material which could be sewn. It was irreparable. And my barely four hour old shoes were ruined.
Folks, you have to know how deep I dug to overcome my dismay. Lindon and I addressed this very issue in Declutter Now!, and I fought fiercely to allow our self-professed wisdom to bubble up to the surface and set me straight.
Every. Darn. Time.
Why have we addressed this? Because almost every time I get something new, I scratch it, dent it, or otherwise mar it, often on the very first day. Not intentionally, of course, but invariably it happens.
When I bought my 2004 Toyota 4Runner, I put a scratch in the glove box cover’s hard plastic with the buckle from my purse on the drive home from the dealership. I ruined my $30,000 vehicle!
Years ago, on day one, I put a scratch in my brand new Blackberry phone. We all know you can’t replace those cheaply.
My new designer sunglasses? Yup, you guessed it. A lens scratch on the first day. Talk about a constant reminder staring me right in the face!
Clearly I’m jinxed. No one else could possibly have the misfortune I do with new things.
That or I am just a serious clutz.
Perhaps a bit of both?!
I realized a while back, if I was going to keep my sanity AND enjoy my stuff, I had to relax a bit about perfection. Well, maybe more than just a bit.
Sure, no one wants their new things ruined, but the fact is it’s going to happen. I contend that our character is NOT defined by what happens to us, but by our reaction. What was my reaction saying?
I knew good and well I had some serious work to do on my response to disappointment, especially when it came to my new stuff. This, however, was no small task for me. While I’d always had enough money to keep food on the table and the bills paid, as a single mom, there generally wasn’t extra. Consequently, I was incredibly careful with my purchases and overprotective of my stuff. To a fault. It was an interesting dynamic. Here I was a confident, capable, independent woman, yet I allowed fear to take a stronghold on my reactions.
At this point, you’re probably connecting the dots. Knowing this small tidbit about my past, you can likely understand why I was never inclined towards impulse shopping.
But I digress… Back to my conundrum…
How do I reconcile the fearless person I thought I was with the fearful decisions I was obviously making?
I can work through and overcome just about any obstacle if I can extract truth from the situation.
What truth could I uncover about these annoying scratches that would ruin my brand new stuff? One day, just like that, it was crystal clear. God said to me, “Sherry, it’s just stuff.”
I’m sure that sounds far too simplistic to be meaningful or helpful, but it was in fact, both. In that moment, God revealed truths that my head needed to hear and my heart needed to embrace.
The truths that set me free:
- The things of this world won’t stand the test of fire and are of no value in heaven.
- Often, I am the only one noticing the damage.
- Most things can be replaced. And if they can’t, oh well. Check it off your list.
- Putting too much emphasis on stuff is unhealthy.
- Living in fear is debilitating and destructive.
- There are many people in need who would appreciate my item, scratched or not.
- There are many people who will never even know the least of the ‘riches’ I have.
God continually humbles me with reminders of what is genuinely important and what doesn’t truly matter. Sometimes those reminders sting, but they are always valuable and always in my best interest.
Take A Deep Breath
When my ‘It’s Just Stuff’ reminders crop up, which they constantly do, I take a deep breath, refresh my memory with God’s truths, and then smile.
Through every ding, every scratch, every marred item, God is speaking to me. He’s giving me a good-natured ribbing. He’s reminding me where my stuff fits into the priorities of my Christian walk. He’s growing me. Teaching me. And loving me.
When you experience that first ‘uh-oh’ moment with something new and disappointment soars, I want you to take a deep breath, re-focus, and move forward with a fresh attitude. Thank God for His love and attention. Count all of your blessings. Find comfort in the truths He is revealing to you.
And contrary to what you never thought you’d never do in this situation, smile. For all the right reasons, and for the love of God, SMILE!
It’s Just Stuff.