What Are You Collecting? Is It Enhancing Your Life or Weighing You Down?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What are you collecting?  In years past, people collected stamps and coins.  Some collected record albums, comic books, antiques, old cars.  We might not even realize we are collecting, we might just think of it as 'acquiring'.  Not everything we collect leads to contentment or joy though.  Some of the things we collect actually lead us to the opposite and can be quite detrimental to our well being.  Let me explain.

I came across this scene on one of our recent trips to Montgomery County near one of the Amish  farms there.  Not sure of why they'd have a bunch of rocks in the field, we surmised that perhaps they'd collected them from their crop fields and left them in this corral.  Maybe not, but it was all we could think of.  As I looked at the photo today, it reminded me of some things we are all guilty of collecting at times.  The first thing that comes to mind is how we tend to set aside, and not discard, the times people have hurt us.  We may say we've forgiven, or forgotten, but how many times have we really just shelved that hurt, and set it off to the side for the moment.  What about the things people have said to us that we took offense to?  We may not have even called them out on it, but again, we tuck the incident aside.... out of mind but not forgotten.  Then there are the things we did for people that we didn't really want to do but did anyway and somewhere deep down inside of us we're holding just a tiny bit of resentment that maybe they didn't appreciate or adequately reciprocate that sacrifice.  We just tuck that aside too.  The list could go on and on.
I think sometimes in life, especially when we're feeling down, we have a habit of taking inventory of all these things, reliving injustices we've experienced, hurts we've felt, times we were wronged and somehow in that moment we feel justified for our miserable state of mind.  Sometimes it's easier to be angry than it is to let go, easier to hang on to excuses that justify our emotions.  Before long, we're left with a giant pile of hurts, injustices, and bad memories.  Like this pile of rocks, our pile weighs us down.  It gets in the way of us cultivating positive emotions and positive relationships.  Like this pile of rocks, our pile builds walls.  At times we feel justified in building walls, because we believe those walls will protect us from further hurt and betrayals, misunderstandings and pain.  Maybe it does, but it also isolates us from opening ourselves up to people who might not hurt or misunderstand us.  When we close ourselves off, we barricade ourselves within that cell of pain and disappointment.  We focus on the rocks that bruised us and we let those bruises blind us and prevent us from seeing beyond those isolated circumstances.  We convince ourselves that people purposely set out to hurt us, when in reality, some of the time we too hurt people, even though unintentionally.  It's not surprising that in our fast talking, emailing, texting world, we don't hurt people daily without intending to.  But.....when someone hurts us...it feels bad and it feels intentional.  With each hurt, each sarcastic comment, each misunderstanding or disappointment, our pile grows and gets heavier and more effective in insulating us from not just the hurts, but also from the blessings of others.

We need to scatter our rocks and discard the gravel they've left in our wounds.  We need to let go of our secret stash of hurts and resentments and stop letting them be obstacles in building new trusting relationships.  Our mountain of injustices, our collection, brings no joy and serves no purpose.  We need to mindfully and faithfully stop this unhealthy hoard.  We need to start today.   What are you collecting that isn't bringing you joy?  What are you ready to let go of in order to embrace peace?  Sometimes the war we feel we're in isn't between ourselves and others, it's within of our own emotions.  As soon as you release what's weighing you down, you'll have hands and heart free to embrace your blessings and fresh eyes to see the goodness in others.
Don't let your story be how many hurts you've endured, but how many times you opened your hearts to others in spite of the scars you've endured and overcome.  Share this with someone you know who's burdened by something unhealthy.  Remind them you care!

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