Thursday, February 27, 2014

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

What Are You Collecting?

Have you ever thought about the "things" you collect? Are they just things? Or could they be symbolic of something else? Could your collections be about a search for happiness; or trying to fill a void in your life? Could your collections be hiding a secret longing or hurt?

Have you ever thought your collections were anything but a singular item that you purchased and then desired more of? 

I'm a bit OCD, a bit of an addict and a bit of a hoarder all at once. I love color, texture and completeness. If I'm going to "do" something I'm going to do it and not just half way. But, is that always a good thing? Did you know that I have several collections? Or, were my collections part of my secrets of life that are kept locked in my "vault" waiting to be dealt with?

It is entirely possible this post is not making sense to anyone but me. I'm my own choir and I'm speaking to myself. I'm questioning myself and the motives behind the things I collect. 

I love to read. I'm a passionate believer that books are meant to be devoured and enjoyed. I've always leaned towards light hearted, uplifting books. I love books that focus on my interests: encouraging words and stories; cookbooks, scrapbook magazines. Romance novels. There. There you have it. My big secret: I'm a Harlequin Romance junkie. After a stealthy foray into my Mother's stash of reading material by her nightstand and the procurement of a paperback novel that I secreted into my yellow bedroom and stashed in my dresser drawer .... I read my first Harlequin while I was still in elementary school. I was in the 5th grade and I became totally entranced with the idea that a romance could bloom within the space of 110 pages of neatly spaced text. One of these days I may even find the intestinal fortitude to write my own novel and submit it. 

These days I read my Harlequins on my Kindle. They are light hearted stories that I enjoy. Some people call them trash and say a good Christian shouldn't read them. One man's trash is another man's treasure....and I am a good Christian who loves to read a good romance. Yes, I occasionally wince at the words and actions of the characters; I read them any way. 

I love to have my spirit uplifted. Words of encouragement and hope. Of a journey that impacts the hearts of others.....I have an awesome collection of Chicken Soup books. I love magazines that inspire me....and I have several collections sitting on a bookshelf collecting....DUST! I collected scrapbook and paper crafting magazines for years. I still own them haven't looked at them for years and can't get rid of them. 

Cherished moments...or rather Cherished Teddies are also something I collected and enjoyed. I obsessively collected ones that had names or themes which are special to my life and times as a daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend. Sitting on oak shelves behind glass and nestled among Crystal glassware these adorable teddies are cherished. But, do they serve a purpose?

The third bedroom of our home is filled with wall to wall bookcases. The shelves house yet another Creative Memories scrapbook, Stampin' Up! rubber stamp and paper craft collections. As someone recently said, "it's like Michael's only bedroom sized." Yes, I am/was a bit obsessive with making certain I had everything I needed to complete those perfect pages/hand made cards. And to think that passion started by attending a single party given by a friend. 

With each of these collections I can define a period of my life. Each period encompasses a stage of life that includes growth, pain, and change. Several of them encompass family and friends and social interaction. 

But, does any of them really achieve what I was trying to make happen? What was my motivation behind collecting things without realizing that is exactly what I was doing?

The answer is easy. I was trying to create that euphoric feeling of happiness by buying it. I wasn't working for my happiness. I was trying to buy happiness and peace without putting any energy into it. 

The phrase; "Know God; Know Peace ~ no God; no peace"  just popped into my mind. I was replacing the love, peace and joy of God with other idols. I was trying to buy an intimate relationship with happiness without having a true relationship with my Heavenly Father. Thank goodness for his merciful forgiveness and unending love. Through Christ I have the joy and peace I was seeking.

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me" Philippians 4:13

Does this mean I have to get rid of my collections to clean out my vault and know true joy. Nope. Not. At. All. It means I can enjoy these items which give me a moment of happiness with the understanding that they give me happiness but they are not my happiness. It means I am free by the mercy of Jesus to enjoy these products and not idolize them. It means through His wisdom I know the difference between being happy and trying to buy happy.