Monday, November 24, 2014

The Pictures in the Garage

There were things there we didn’t want the kids to see. Tubs full of photos in the garage, his and hers, which hadn’t been unpacked or sorted through since we’d married and moved more than a decade ago. We don’t hide our past actions from our kids, although there’s a limit to how much detail they’re entitled.

These pictures are from that between time, after photos were rare, before they were digital. After we were kids, before we were married. Before we were saved.

As we talked we decided that holding onto many of our pre-marriage photos wasn’t about fond remembrance, it was about guilt and regret.

The mountain of photos was sorted into three piles. First was the junk, photos that were duplicates, forgotten, or just plain bad. They’re dead weight, easy to spot and fairly easy to purge.

The second pile were photos that bring joy. I only picked the best of the best. Weddings, births, special trips. I thought of it like a slide presentation and saved just enough images to recapture the memory, not enough to bore someone to tears. Then I let the rest go.

Then there’s the third pile. These are things that don’t bring us joy, but are still worth keeping. They are mile markers, important people, and big events. Things we don’t want to toss because they remind us of how we got where we are. These photos weigh on the heart, and so I carefully chose only a few. All the rest I washed away.

I saved about ten photos from high school and fewer from college, but that’s just me. I have a hard time imagining what I was thinking back then. I don’t need all those photos, I need a couple stones of remembrance and Jesus’ intercession. I wake every morning made new in God’s love. Isn’t that incredible?

If we repent and our sins are forgiven, but choose to immerse ourselves in pointless guilt year after year, it’s like throwing Jesus’s sacrifice back at him. Boxes full of old photos were made for that sort of obsession. They are heavy on the soul.

So much of the junk we hold onto, whether it is a photograph or something else, has to do with guilt. I just don’t think it’s Christian to do that. I also don’t think it’s fair to revisit these sins on our kids by leaving it for them to hold onto someday.

I took my mega-sized tub and tossed out three garbage bags of stuff, and now what is left is what I want, what I need, and a sense of freedom. That’s worth so much more than a box of pictures.

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