Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rings and things

Every now and again it catches my eye (or something would happen to remind me) and I wonder to myself, “WHAT was I thinking?"

When I got married I didn’t own a lot to begin with. My husband had a fully furnished two bedroom townhouse. Whatever we had duplicates of, I sold mine. That left me with near nothing but my clothes and a few small odds and ends that you didn’t mind a duplicate of. Needless to say, when I got divorced a short while later, I walked out with next to nothing, but including the rings.

I purchased our wedding bands. Mine was very pretty, but inexpensive. My husband’s (on the other hand) was roughly five times the value. I bought it on account and was still paying off on it at the time. For some reason I had made up my mind that I would fight for the rings. Heaven knows what I was thinking... Maybe it was the fact that I wasn’t that made me to be so foolish. Nonetheless, in the end I got it alright! Now what am I supposed to do with it...? More than ten years later I’m still wondering. It never did give me back anything of what I had lost through that experience...

Every now and again I’m reminded about what really matters, and things are not it!

Maybe at the time I thought that I would somehow feel compensated for the prices that I too did pay for my poor error in judgement. Maybe I thought that it would somehow give me back some of my power, maybe even some of my identity. Maybe I wanted him to have some of his own medicine... feel what it felt like. Strangely enough though, it was nowhere near as satisfying as I had hoped it would be, and it most certainly did not mend the broken me. Maybe I just wanted to feel that I hadn’t completely lost after all.

Today I am grateful that that is one of the few reminders that I have of that painful season of my life. I cherish the lesson that I’ve learned from it dearly. Every now and again I come across someone who exhibits the same behaviour and I feel empathy for them; If they only knew what you only realize on the other side of your foolishness.

Having nice things is really great. I certainly have a few things that are dear to me, but on the other side of having owned much and having owned very little, and all the times that I’ve started over, I have come to realize some valuable principles about things.

Things don’t buy you love, acceptance or happiness. Having them can be cause for much enjoyment and fleeting moments of pleasure, but in and of itself, the moments (and the often resulting false friends) are just that: fleeting.

Having things and having no one that wants to enjoy the pleasure of it with you can cause much loneliness. The lonely will often not admit this though.

If the things you own stop you from making quality decisions for progress in your life, maybe you should stop to think and determine whether you’re still master of your things, or whether it is has become master over you.

Sometimes things become replacement comforts for the weaknesses in our lives or the flaws that we refuse to face, deal with or overcome. We mistakenly negotiate with “I” that just one more possession will replace the emptiness that “what if...?” leaves in our soul. It won’t. Joyce Meyer says it well, “Choose your pain.” We can either have instant gratification now and suffer the consequence and pain of unresolved matters later, or face the music and be able to move beyond it; sing a new song on the other side.

Things can never give you back what you’ve lost. It cannot replace a loved one who is gone, whether by divorce or death. It cannot replace a best friend lost. It cannot mend a broken heart, no matter how much you spend. It does not increase your worth, and it doesn’t make you any more acceptable (in the true sense of the word) to society. Things cannot give you that look that says “I understand”, and it cannot wrap its arms around you in a warm embrace. Things do not kiss it better and never responds during hour long conversations... Things don’t make you sincere and it does not give you wisdom. Things cannot dry your tears.

Things does not have eternal value. When you leave it stays right here... nothing more than a memory of ‘used to be’s’.

It reminds me of the rich young man in Mark 10 who asked Jesus about what he had to do to be saved. (V 21, 22) Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Having things was not his downfall, but rather the fact that his trust was in his things. Jesus knew this, and selling it would have set him free from the hold it had over his life, but the man couldn’t let it go. Things were the master of him, instead of him the master of it.

The secret that the rich young man did not know, was that if you seek first that which matters most everything else would follow. I like the way The Message says it, “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

I also have to add... as your heart starts steering toward what really matters, that which you want changes... You don’t stop wanting, but what you want, change.

I love what Peter says in Phil 4 - ”I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little..” and “Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me WHO I am.

I have learnt a few truths about things since those rings... (not quite what I had in mind while fervently fighting over nothingness...) It has been a constant reminder to always remember what it is really about, and to spend my time and energy on what matters.

I’ve learnt much about the art of letting go – not all there is to know, I’m sure, but much nonetheless - and I’ve discovered more liberty than I have ever known till now! After all this time that ring is still just a ring... but I, on the other hand, am a new creation, singing a new song on the other side of it!


Cindy said...

Very mature writing, Liane, and a profound lesson.
Thank you for sharing.

Liane de Witt said...

Thank you, Cindy. I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts :)