After being married for 12 years, most of my eighties clothes have slowly disappeared. My wife used to ask for my permission to sell my old clothes at garage sales, and then they started to gradually disappear into our donation bags. Unbeknownst to me, I surrendered my clothes when I took large bags to Goodwill. They weren’t clothes that I would wear, ever – maybe. I had baggy pin striped pants tapered at the bottom, fluorescent pink shirts, colorfully patterned vests and much more. I’m down now to just an old black leather jacket and a black leather vest, which I’m fighting to hang on to. My wife just couldn’t understand why in the world I wanted to keep these. I couldn’t wear them and if i did, she would not acknowledge me in public! Haha. And now, it’s become an ongoing game for her and me – she trying to get rid of stuff and me trying to keep them. Hanging on to old stuff was a battle throughout my life, though. It didn’t start when I got married. I think the hardest thing for me to lose, not by my choice, was something my Dad took away. I came home from college one day to find that my old 10-speed bike which I got from my Dad when I was 10 years old was “chop-shopped” for parts by my Dad in order to build a new bike. I said, “I don’t want a new bike. I want the old one!”. My Dad, looking perplexed, asked, “Why? The old one was beat up and… old.”
Why? You might ask would I hang on to such things? Why do any of us hang on to such things? Are we just foolishly sentimental? I think there’s more to it. I think we hang on to old things because they tell our stories. Collecting old things is nothing new to us. Civilizations have collected them for ages. The old things are remnants of the paths we walked and the people we were. They’re tangible artifacts from our past that tell our history. And history are the written chapters of our lives. They identify where we’ve been and who we were which sheds some meaning on where we might be heading and the people we are becoming. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with hanging on to old things. So you might not be able to use or wear them anymore and they take up a bit of closet or garage space. But they do something valuable for our souls – they tell our stories. And sometimes they remind us of God’s faithfulness throughout our stories. When the years of our lives have been lived out one by one, it’s our stories that we have to show for in the end. And sometimes old things help to tell these stories.