I have a new favorite pastime – estate sale shopping.
I’ve always been too intimidated to go. I imagined going inside someone’s home, looking around and being unsure of what is actually for sale and no prices anywhere. Figuring it would be a lot of, “Is this for sale?” and “How much is this?” and pretending I’m still thinking about it while I determine I have held it long enough to not seem rude, when I really want to look at them and say, “Are you kidding me? $25 for a warped pot?” I don’t even like yard sales when things aren’t clearly priced.
But I tried it. My sister convinced me to go with her to one and I have been hooked since. I’m getting so comfortable estate sale shopping now that I’m a little worried I’m going to be at one of your homes and just start going through your cabinets out of habit.
We spent four hours Saturday pilfering through the belongings of three different strangers and I came home with a picture frame, 3 cooking magazines, a cake stand, a pitcher, an ironing board and a serving dish. We also learned some things about a fellow shopper. While in the spare bedroom, we saw she is a huge NASCAR fan, a quality she shared with the recently departed. In the family room, we found out she is a mom to three boys, a grandmother to seven, and a great-grandmother to four, with one of them recently adopted and there is a hope for the younger sister of this one to soon be welcomed to their family. She was thrilled to tell her story – almost as thrilled as she was when she stumbled onto the racing jackets.
But another story I learn as I’m shopping is the story of the one who has passed one. You can’t help but put together a picture of the person’s life. Books are always where I spend the longest at these sales, and I think you can tell much about a person by what they are reading.
Classics? Paperbacks with a woman draped with a sheet that is blowing in the wind? Books about God and Christianity? A variety of religions represented? Well-worn Bibles? Love stories? Or maybe just a few untouched odds and ends books that I figure were purchased as gifts? I can imagine the coziest room in the house and picture him or her with a blanket on a chilly day getting lost in the words of whatever it is that seemed to interest them.
At one sale there was tons of fabric and sewing supplies, along with multiple patterns pinned to cut-out fabric pieces, and I could imagine this lady getting enjoyment from creating something beautiful for her or someone else right up until her last days.
It got me thinking (and not just me – I heard other shoppers echo this thought) about what people might say about me and all my stuff. But even more than just based on my stuff, what about those who know me – either knowing me well, or just as an acquaintance – what would their take on me be when it’s all over?
And now, while I’m still here, a more important question is, What do I want them to say about me?
All the choices I make, and boy have I made some bad ones, help to determine what people will say. I want the choices I make today to show love and compassion. Kindness and joy. And all the rest of the Fruit of the Spirit while I’m at it. I want my life to point to Jesus.
Jesus laid it out pretty simply in John chapter 13 saying, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (34,35)
My life will point to Jesus if I love.
When I talk to my friends and family, my tone and words and meaning should be drenched with love. My coworkers – love. My neighbors – love. People on Route 60 – love. Someone who hurt me – love.
Some of those are easy, some seemingly impossible. But thankfully we aren’t doing it alone. The Holy Spirit guides us to choose love.
As people one day will be fumbling through my closet of clothes in 6 different sizes, my tote of newspapers, and my pile of scarves, I hope that there will be hints of Jesus. And I hope that the people who know me best will be able to say with confidence that I loved Jesus and showed that love to others. I hope they can say it about all of us.