Garage sales are like getting close to God

Yeah! Garage sale season is here! With it comes the opportunity to get organized and purge some of the “stuff” out of our lives.

I am heavy into organizing. However, we have danger zones in our home. We call them closets. Our linen closet is so small, yet so full, that finding a wash cloth is like going on safari. Why does a four-bedroom home have a linen closet the size of a Tupperware container?

Moving into danger zone number two, our master closet: The top shelf has plastic sweater racks that are bending in the middle like an overloaded flatbed truck. Clothes look like they are going to fall down on me like a coiled snake ready to strike. Now that I look closely, my longsleeve jackets are so packed in that they look like they are reaching out to grab me. So then why do I never have anything to wear?

There is also that silverware drawer. Why did the builder put a cutting board insert over that drawer? Not only do you see mismatched silverware that give me some emotional warm and fuzzies, it looks like we took a cheese grater and grated bread over it all.

I am in the process of simplifying my life by getting rid of the stuff. I’ve been pretty good about it these past years, yet I have also been challenged by my friends about some of the strange items that I keep. These things were once called gifts. There is always an emotional attachment to the gifts, even though I don’t know what some of them are.

My husband is a story within himself. I found old checking account papers dated 1985. I met him in 1986. He will not let me get rid of his 1980s cowboy boots that I found in the attic unless I sell them for at least $50. Every day, after I add things to the garage sale pile, he goes back through it like it’s a department store.

To give my husband equal time, let’s talk about my “gifts.” These include some fake orange flowers that I have had in our bathroom for a decade. Why did I keep them, you ask? Well, truth is stranger than fiction: Because a girl that didn’t like me gave them to me.

Now don’t that beat all? I thought we kept things for good emotional reasons. Maybe subconsciously, these fake plastic orange things represented some deep hope in me that she might have liked me for that moment that she gifted me with these. Okay, let me look at them again ... No, she definitely did not like me. It is hard, but these are going. I’ll even include the vase that was given to me by another girl who ended up not liking me.

Is there a deeper issue here of people not liking me? I’m hoping that these were just flukes.

But it is weird how these two items got put together. Even more weird is the decade they had in the toilet room. Hmmmm…

There are other gifts from people who love me. In order to maintain that level of love in my life, I choose not to discuss those gifts in this forum. Self-protection reigns.

I remember reading a book entitled “The Poisonwood Bible.” It was about a misguided missionary who took his family to Africa. They had nothing. The entire day was spent looking for food and water. They could not use the water in the river because it had been used as an outdoor bathroom and was contaminated. They had to wait for it to rain or find other means. Then they had to boil the water before they could drink it They were also constantly chasing poisonous snakes off their dirt-covered floors and out of their one-room hut.

When did things get so crazy and materialistic? When did we stop owning the stuff and it started owning us? How do we simplify our lives and get back to what is most important? Well, I say, a garage sale is a good first step. Letting go of old emotional and physical ties can be part of this process. Then we can replace the “stuff” with pursuing a relationship with God. How freeing to replace old clutter with new thoughts.

I also see a parallel to the freedom from sin that we are offered through Jesus. We can start over with a clean slate and a fresh start when we ask for His forgiveness –– almost like moving into a brand new, clean home with big closets. Freedom at last!

Finally, if you are wondering about the garage sale, the cowboy boots probably won’t make it, but the plastic orange flowers and vase will.

Cindy Jury is a freelance writer and the women's ministry leader at Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Federal Way (927-0268). She can be reached at

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