I’m not a big keeper when it comes to most things, but I have absolutely no judgment when it comes to photos of my children and the paper treasures they’ve generated over a family lifetime. Anything that reminds me of how much I treasure them is a treasure to me—photos, programs, certificates, awards, little pieces of art, and all letters to Santa along with his midnight replies. I’ve kept any little writings that give some insight into their precious personalities. For years when I would come out of my bedroom in the morning there would be a note on the ground saying, “Mom, please make sure I’m up by ___ o’clock. I have a rehearsal (a morning side, a review session) at school!” (We will save discussing my mothering skills for another day.) Every so often, after a family feud, I would find a repentant note saying something like, “I’m sorry I was such a brat. I really do love you!” You guessed it. I saved it.
My tenderness for all things memorable has created a bit of a problem. It’s a problem I’ve kept hidden in a very large upstairs closet for years. Though this closet is out of the way it often cries out to me—“Nannette, you are a treasure saving junkie! Get a grip! Get some sanity! You may be able to hide your neurosis in a closet, but that does not make it any less of a problem.”
Now that I’m living in recovery from compulsive eating the Lord is doing some excavation work on other aspects of my life, and this is one of them. Thankfully, recovery is an ongoing phenomenon. I have heard it shared many times that those struggling with addiction are addicted to “more”—more of anything. My collection of treasures certainly bears this out.
I’m grateful I have not passed my propensity for saving on to my daughters. They seem to have a keen eye for the savable and the expendable. They also have digital cameras and know how to use them, and when the refrigerator door has no more space for one more drawing by one more budding artist they simply take some pictures and send the originals on to a better life, better for moms anyway.
Though I’ve got miles to go, I have come a far piece. I began this cleanup nearly three years ago. One of my daughters and I packed our bags and loaded a car with boxes of photos and took a weekend trip to the home of another daughter and spent a day and a night and a day doing a quick initial sort. When I returned home I kept at it. Every Monday afternoon I take a box of “scraps” down to my daughter’s house, where I can receive all the encouragement and sanity I need. Thanks to her gift for clear minded evaluation, decades of photos are almost in order, by year, in shoe boxes and ready to be scanned. All doubles and photos of trees in forests long forgotten have been thrown away. The digital age of being able to scan the photos and papers and then scrapbook on the computer may bless my life yet. Now I’m going through paper treasures I have saved for one of my sons. I don’t want to pass the mess on to him or his wife. His three boxes are becoming three orderly journals. We’ve actually had a great time skimming over our past. “By littles” my chaos is beginning to take shape. With the help of the Lord and His angels no mess is too big. No mess is too small.
I’ll never forget the first time I shared with someone just how compulsive I was with about saving treasures and what a mess I had created. I also shared with her what a crazy perfectionist I was with the use of my time. I showed her the schedule I had created for myself that frankly six Nannettes couldn’t possibly pull off. I thought my recovery friend was going to simply tell me that I was nuts, but she didn’t. She listened to me and then she said, “Nannette, you must be so precious to the Lord. I can see that you want to please Him with everything that’s in you.” I was really taken back by her comment. She was actually saying that some of my craziness has its roots in my compelling desire to do good—that the Lord knows our hearts. Knowing He loves me and understands me makes me want to “put God first” ahead of other treasures or desires, good as they may be, and allow Him to put all things in their proper place.
There is one thought that has given me courage to throw things away, and this is it. The Lord is a great keeper. All my life I have been taught that the Lord is a good forgetter. If I repent He remembers my sins “no more.” What a blessing! But, as a young mother there have been thousands of moments I wanted to somehow keep, somehow capture and never ever forget. Impossible! There is no way you can possibly capture all the good—I don’t care how good a photographer, videographer, journaler extraordinaire you are! It can’t be done. I have finally had to imagine that Heavenly Father and Jesus are also infinitely tender toward all the good—They are the first ones out with their camera snapping and videoing all the good. In fact they’ve got Heavenly technology we can’t even imagine, love for us we cannot even comprehend, and a great eye for keepsakes. If our Father in Heaven loves all His kids half as much I love the ones He lent to me, He’s chronicling not just our big milestones, but every precious step we take in the right direction. He’s like me. I’m depending on it! Anything that reminds Him of how much He treasures us is a treasure to Him.
By Nannette W. posted Wednesday, February 22, 2012
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