Lessons I Learned From A Horrible American Tradition

I partook in a time-honored American tradition this weekend. A tradition where friends gather to sit in a chair made out of fabric in order to empty their junk drawers and fill their pockets while discussing the weather, mutual affection for specific beverages and planning the afternoon recovery period caused by the morning’s event. We Americans call it “The Garage Sale.” Or as I like to call it, ” A visit to the 8th floor of Hell.” (Parking was NOT validated.)

Can we all just agree on one thing? Garage sales are the WORST. The absolute worst. Especially if it’s before you move halfway across the world and the sale consists of 90% of your belongings. Which I understand, is a lot of stuff! (I’m still a little concerned how I acquired so much in the first place. Sleep shopping? Hoarder status? Thievery??) In a garage sale, first comes the sorting. Then the decisions of what is stored, what is sold and what is given away. Then the moving. Then the emotions. Then lather, rinse, and repeat until it’s all over and you find yourself bartering with an old man about the price of a bookshelf that was ALREADY marked at a VERY reasonable price, Sir! (I won. Sort of.)

Saturday was a very hot and very difficult day, both emotionally and physically. I live in the MOST humid state in AMERICA. (I’m sure of this. Google it. Just kidding, don’t do that.) It was REALLY hot. And while preparing for the sale I found myself being flooded with memories of the past and questions of the future. So, in the midst of moving all of the boxes and furniture across town in 90 degree-but-feels-like-1,000-degrees weather, I began to doubt.

“I’m selling everything. Antiques, trinkets, furniture, pots, pans, blankets, clothes, shoes; even Grandpa’s candy dish! EVERYTHING. But I’m not even at 100% yet. What if I can’t raise the money? What if I’m making a mistake? What if this doesn’t even bring any money in? What if God doesn’t provide? What if this is all for nothing? What if I never make it? What if, what if, what if?!?!”

I was doubting myself, my community and God. But then I remembered a conversation I had with a friend just the other day. It was directed towards raising support but the message remained. When asked if asking people for money was hard I replied, “No”. There are very strenuous steps in raising support but asking for the money is not the hard part for me. Because it’s not “asking for money”. Raising support is choosing to believe in the people God has asked you to love; believing in them enough to humble yourselves before others asking them to care just as much as you do. If I struggle “asking people for money” then I am doubting the value of the ladies of Grace Gardens. I’m doubting God, His call, and His power to provide. This garage sale was no different.

I’m not at 100% of my monthly goal or even my one time goal. I’m not financially ready to go. So selling all of my belongings was, for me, another huge, scary step onto a fast moving train bound for Jos, Nigeria. But having the garage sale was one more leap of faith. It was one more opportunity to make the choice of trusting God even when I couldn’t see what was ahead. It was one more opportunity to believe in the women of Nigeria and to put their true value ahead of my own comfort level. It was one more opportunity to humble myself before the Lord and before my community. It was one more opportunity to learn from and grow in The Lord.

It was one more opportunity. 

So what did I learn? I learned that God works best in the last minute. (Probably because my stubborn self learns best at the last minute!) I learned that people will continually surprise you. I learned I still worry way too much. I learned God will offer peace if I will take it. I learned God continually asks us to trust Him. I learned I still have a LOT to learn.

And I learned, once again, I have a ridiculously wonderful community. If it weren’t for my INCREDIBLE friends, Jess, John, Dede, Cass, Josh, Erin and Paul, the whole thing never would’ve happened. These people seriously love the Lord and show it best by loving others. Thank you, dear friends, who have become family, for loving and serving so well. I couldn’t do life without you!

And I learned garage sales are still the WORST. Never again, people. Never again.

But the biggest lesson I learned from Saturday was God never stops working, never gives up, never gives in, never lets go and always shows up.

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