The saying goes, “That one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” So with that in mind (and the need to close up the house here before we leave for England) we decided to have a yard sale. After cleaning out the basement and some of the closets we had a garage full of junk (treasures) to sell. The goal was to get rid of stuff that we didn’t need (or want) anymore. And ultimately what didn’t sell would be donated to St. Vincent de Paul.
But a funny thing happened. Several people who showed up for our sale commented on how nice our stuff was and then proceeded to ask us to take less than the price that was marked. Now I know that with yard sales bartering is part of the ‘game’ and at first I thought it was amusing that someone would ask if I would take less on something that was marked .25 cents. But even though these items were discards I started to feel insulted that some of these bargain hunters would look at the price on something and then roll their eyes or worse – mutter under their breath and laugh. Their taunting laughter seemed to say, “Your trash is not worthy of my precious time or money.” “Wait!” I screamed in my head, “Aren’t you the one that just complimented our lovely array of treasures?”
Suddenly I decided that perhaps some of these folks didn’t deserve our mismatched dishes or outdated wall hangings. Maybe I should just close up shop and save my treasures for someone more appreciative. Why was I sacrificing an (almost) perfectly good crock pot for only $2.00? Why was I willing to let go of a lamp that used to have a prominent place in my home for just a $1.50?
After I regained my composure and made a few bucks and then donated a significant amount of things to charity, I reflected on the entire ordeal. While it’s true that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” it’s equally true that “one man’s treasure may be viewed as trash by another.” I wondered how many times that I’ve been guilty of de-valuing someone’s treasure? How often have I not shown proper respect or deference to something highly prized by someone else? And what about the times that I’ve been careless with regards to someone’s feelings? Or downright insulting in my lack of regard? And what kind of pain have I inflicted on others?
Anyone that is prejudged by their appearance or income or the neighborhood that they live in or the car that they drive knows that pain. Any of us that has put part of ourselves into a work of art only to have someone laugh at it or dismiss it knows that pain. Any person that has a child with special needs that has been subjected to unkindness or discrimination knows that pain. Anyone that loves something (their Church, their hometown, their country) only to have it mocked or ridiculed by others knows that pain.
So today I’m thankful for the lesson of our yard sale. And I’m asking God to help me show more compassion and empathy towards others and to forgive me for those times that I have failed to do so.