The Church and Garage Sales (part 1 of 3)

Garage Sales … I don’t like them.  I know there are people, like my mother-in-law, who love to go “garaging”.  They do their research, know the neighborhoods, map out the sales on a Friday or Saturday, and get there two hours before opening.  They are on the lookout for unwanted treasures.  I don’t like them, because, well, mostly, I just see … junk, not treasures.  I have had garage sales, but only when I’ve had to move for one reason or another.  For me garage sales mean a new chapter in life, a new leg of the journey.

This summer I spent going through closets, drawers, attics, and every nook and cranny looking for things that would not take the trip to New Jersey with us.  So for weeks I’d cull, separating the stuff that would still be of use to us in our new home, from the stuff that we just didn’t have a use for anymore.  Two or three times through each closet would always produce more things for the garage.

The day before our sale in August our garage was full of … junk … and memories.  I was emotionally paralyzed just looking at it; thank God for Amy Miller-Martin who knew a thing or two about managing garages sales.  Amy was able to organize the clutter into categories: linen, electronics, books and music, Christmas decorations, kitchen items, etc.  And then she asked, “So, Wendy, how do you want to price these things?”  Ugh.  All I saw was junk or memories … neither is helpful when pricing.  So I told Amy and the others there … just look at it, and make your best guess.  I wasn’t interested in “getting my money’s worth,” as much as I was interested in letting someone else use and enjoy these things.

There’s an element of stewardship in garage sales, after all.  The “stuff” doesn’t belong to us; it’s God’s.  It blessed us for a time, and now it’s time to have other lives blessed by it as well.  That’s easy to say when it comes to the zillion mugs we collected from various groups marketing themselves.  It’s not as easy when it comes to our daughter’s five American Girl Dolls we sold at our previous sale, or the Spinet Piano I learned to play on that we sold before our trip to New Jersey.  Even our treasures have to move on sometimes.  I could see the joy and happiness in the granddaughter of one our church members as she played with “Samantha”. And I could see the anticipation in the face of the young Vietnamese couple who drove off with the Spinet; she was a great player and so happy to have a piano to practice on again.

Amy Miller-Martin took the patio chairs and table from our house and is using them for more entertaining and relaxing on her deck.  A newly divorced man took our love seat to furnish his new apartment.  Lots of twenty-somethings loved searching through our CD collection of Broadway and hits from the seventies for the music they wanted to add to their iPod playlists.  The old stuff is useful again, but only when I let it go.

How do you do at letting things go?  Not just the junk, but the treasures?

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