Lessons from a yard sale

A Christian Science perspective.

The signs were staked out in the front yard, and we were pretty much ready to go. This was our first – and, as it turned out, our only – yard sale. For a week or so we had been selecting things and putting prices on them. Our little daughter, Paige, was involved in selecting what should go, too. She had a large number of toys, dolls, and games that were no longer of interest to her, and she had been helping us decide which things to put out on the table.

The first woman who came to the sale immediately saw a doll that was lying at the end of one of the tables. She picked it up and just loved it at first sight. But as she came over to pay, Paige started to scream and cry: “That’s my baby doll – you can’t have it!” Shaking and sobbing, she made a pretty convincing display of how cruel and thoughtless her daddy was to let this happen.

The woman put the doll down and told us what she thought of parents who would sell their little child’s doll, using quite a few descriptors that, fortunately, have since been forgotten. She marched off in a huff before I’d had a chance to explain that Paige had gladly agreed during sorting that the doll should go to a new home. Mark that down as a “No Sale!”

In spite of that hiccup, the yard sale turned out to be an excellent lesson on the importance of proper sorting and classifying. It made me think about how I sort and classify my thinking, too. Am I keeping only those ideas and attitudes that are still useful and good, or am I holding on to “positions outgrown” (Mary Baker Eddy, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 74), or stale thoughts that are no longer beneficial or even wanted?

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul told the Athenians that “in him [God] we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). This is a perfect reminder that we are all the image and likeness of God, reflecting Godlike qualities right here and now. Only those thoughts which come from Him are real – so we can discard any fearful or otherwise flawed thoughts that may be hanging around.

I have found it to be quite an adventure, going through the attic of my thoughts and looking at values to see if they still fit my life, are still useful, are the kind of things I want to have around in my consciousness. I sometimes hang on to things way beyond their useful life (my wife would prefer that I not keep so many possessions around, too!), and it’s important to make sure I’m not doing that in my thought.

As I pray, I might tell myself: “OK, I’m motivated by love – I sure want to keep that quality. And I’m reflecting life, joy, and happiness; keep them for sure. And there’s kindness and tenderness, too. I need to get those out and use them more often.”

Then I might see that I’ve been taking in some thoughts that I don’t want to keep: “What’s in those boxes labeled ‘politics’ and ‘human opinion’? Oh, they are filled with criticism, judgment, and condemnation. I’ll put those out on the curb for the trash. And why am I holding on to self-justification, self-importance, and selfishness? I thought I got rid of them long ago; they can be hard to shake loose. Those should go, too.”

This mental housekeeping is something I should do every day. There’s never a need to wait to examine my thinking to see what’s worth keeping ... and what needs to go. Divine qualities such as purity, love, and honesty are what make up my being, and any thoughts that don’t come from a spiritual basis don’t deserve consideration.

Next week I will definitely start examining my thoughts every day. No, wait – that’s procrastination … tricky little fella! He’s got to go, too.

As we’re sorting through our thinking, discarding whatever doesn’t come from God, we can remember Joshua’s call to the Israelites: “Choose you this day whom ye will serve ... as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). Dwelling only on those thoughts and attitudes that come from God is a wonderful way to serve Him.

Adapted from the author’s blog.

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