My life’s work at a garage sale

Many years before the Breaking Bonds Series, I had two completed manuscripts which only family had seen. I met a man with a published book and told him how wonderful that would be—it was my dream. He sort of shrugged and said, “Yeah, but then one day you walk by the bargain bin and see your book, and it’s worth so little.”

Regardless, I wanted to see a story of mine bound and to hold it in my hands. A decade later, I had to let go of those first two stories to be ready to write Sovereign Ground. After Heart of Petra was published I found it in a discount bin. It was almost like a bucket where a hundred books had been dumped. Being forewarned, I didn’t mind. (Also, it was next to my favorite book that year—so I actually felt legitimized.)

I have a writer friend who found her book at a secondhand store—normally not a big deal, but this copy had a signature. She had inscribed a message and given it to a friend who apparently donated it.

It isn’t just books. I know another gal who found a homemade Christmas gift she’d given for sale at the recipient’s yard sale. It isn’t just things we make, either. We want people to value the things we collect and appreciate our preferences as much as the things we make.

We spend our lives accumulating, achieving, printing, producing. But no matter what, someone is going to have a garage sale after you pass.

I recently tried to convince an artist in my life to put a watermark on his images before he posted them on social media so someone didn’t snag and sell them in print form. He seemed thrilled that someone might make money from his art. His was a better heart, to make it and yet not hold it too closely.

I like the space of minimalism, but I wonder if there’s a trap thinking the only way to be free is to not make or  own anything. We can own stuff and not hold it too dear.

I think the hurt comes when we fill our curio cabinets and gun safes with intensity, only to find out that our heirs will put an “OBO” (or best offer) sign on everything.

If we make, produce, and collect with loose fingers, our life’s work doesn’t own us.

Happy Juneteenth observed. With my superficial knowledge, I’m thrilled it is a national holiday—and that it replaces Columbus Day. (It feels like this is celebrating something good America has done, rather than its existence.) I think of the transition from slavery to slavery of another kind, like the early sharecropping, and my heart hurts for all of the bondage. Human slavery isn’t the same as symbolic slavery, but there is the concept that we are all slaves to something. I know many people today feel like they’re currently in bondage to their creditors, their home, their job’s expectation…their stuff.

One of my closest friends is on the Camino de Santiago right now. This is her first week of six total where she will carry all that she needs on her back. Somehow, the simplicity of that feeds her soul.

Are you holding on to something so tight that it owns you? Summer may a good time for a garage sale.

A consistent prayer in my life has a variation like this: “God, I want XX because I think it will give me fulfillment, joy, peace, security, whatever and etc. But instead of asking you for XX, I ask for the fulfillment, joy, peace and security that only you can give.” And then when I get it, XX is usually irrelevant. But even if I don’t get it—I still have what I was really after.

7 thoughts on “My life’s work at a garage sale

  1. Letty says:

    “…And then when I get it, XX is usually irrelevant. But even if I don’t get it—I still have what I was really after.” 💕love it

  2. Becky says:

    All so true! I heard the proverb “The more you own, the more you’re owned” once and have taken it to heart, but I loved how you reminded me it’s okay to own things but just not hold it too dear. Which would also include expectations and dreams. I had a pastor that always reminded us to ride loose in the saddle, not clinging too tightly to or trying too hard to force our own way through this life we’re passing through. Thanks for all the food for thought today. I’m definitely borrowing your prayer. 💕

  3. Kapri Walsh says:

    What you say is so true! Having been in charge of going through the things that people collected prior to their passing away has given me an honest perspective that what I love may not be what another person loves.

    It was also important to remember that my lack of enthusiasm for their stuff in no way diminishes my love or appreciation of them! I’ve become less married to my own creations and passions and more aware of how little tangibility we leave behind. May God give me a continual reminder to hold things with open hands and invest in loving Him and loving people.

    • Hilarey says:

      Oh, I like that! Lack of enthusiasm for their stuff doesn’t diminish your love for them. It doesn’t define me—it doesn’t define anyone else.

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