Here lies a lovely little blue measuring cup. It’s part of a set given to me by one of my best friends almost ten years ago. It brought beauty to mundane recipes. But its delicate constitution was no match for three year old hands.
I know I am not the only mother with incomplete dish sets, broken necklaces, and stained carpet. It comes with the territory.
But what a relief they are just things – inanimate, unemotional, dust-collecting things. They will all pass away eventually. Even if they perish sooner than I desire, they are absolutely not worth demeaning and demoralizing the sensitive young spirits in my care.
As Sheldon VanAuken writes in one of my favorite books, A Severe Mercy, “Over-valued possessions [are] a burden, possessing their owners.” He and his wife strove to resist being possessed by their possessions, even going so far as intentionally denting their new car so they would not feel too attached.
I value that mentality. I will teach my children to practice respect and gentleness when handling possessions, of course – particularly other people’s possessions. But I recognize that every thing I have is temporary. The souls of my children are eternal and I want them to leave my home one day believing I valued their hearts over my possessions.
And not only do I want them to see me choose them over material things, I want them to see me choose others over material things. I want them to understand that the life of Jesus was not marked by an accumulation of possessions, but by the storing up of relationships and the pouring out of self. His focus was not on acquiring for himself. Rather, he used his limited time on earth to counter-culturally resist that which the world called valuable, and embrace that which the world called unlovely.
May we work to give our children a deeper understanding of the way of Jesus by demonstrating a proper level of care to the things and the people around us.