The Everything Sale

There’s been a lot going on in my life for the past little bit.  I don’t really think I’ll be getting into all of it, at least not in this post.  Maybe soon.  But for now, I just want to tell you about the everything sale.  Trust me, this post will be long enough with just that as the subject.

Circumstances in my life recently have been causing me to desperately seek the face of God…to seek what He would have me do at every juncture.  I knew there were things that I needed to change and do that I was not being proactive about. 

Well, if you don’t know me, you probably also don’t know that I have a history of moderately drastic actions, like quitting jobs with no idea of what I’m going to do and moving to places where I don’t know anyone and breaking up with fiances (yes, that’s multiple), etc.  Some of these things, I really felt like God wanted me to do.  But some of them, I just did because I got bored with things they were, felt that I couldn’t handle another minute of the status quo.  And so, in this last season of desperation I’ve been going through, I was trying to be super-cautious about what actions I took.  If there was drastic action to be taken, I didn’t want it to be just because I was bored, I wanted it to be because God called me to that action.  However, I was considering a few different types of action.

Drastic Action #1) Changing jobs – which I’m actually kind of doing.  I think my Play-Meter has run down on the whole nanny-ing thing.  I can’t seem to engage with the kids anymore.  I just want to look at them and make sure that they are still living and breathing when the parents get home.  That’s not really a super good nanny trait.  So, I’m slowly phasing out that season of my life.  (Although, right now, I’m kind of sad about it because last night one of my girls asked me if I could bring my cat and a business card with me the last time I come.  So sweet!)

Drastic Action #2) Moving to a tent – Yes, I seriously considered this.  It would have been temporary because I am no good in the cold, but I was thinking it would give some time to pay off the already minimal, but seemingly impossible to pay off debt I have.  It would give me freedom from the responsibilities of living in a structure, namely cleaning and paying rent.  The Lord’s Prayer does ask for our “daily bread.”  I’ve been wondering if having my “bread” for a month to come is an extravagance that we just take as the norm in our society.  I was thinking that living in a tent would force me to only have my daily bread, literally.  You can’t store food in a tent unless it’s in an impenetrable container.  The animals would rip your tent up.  Living in a tent would also minimize distractions so I could do something useful, like write a book or work on my art or spend more time getting smarter instead of working so much and taking care of stuff.  However, ultimately, I didn’t feel good about this option.  I felt like it catered too much to my desire to spurn resposibility and my sometimes unhealthy desire for solitude.  It would be a temporary fix, because as soon as I was faced with the reality of responsibilities, the same challenges would arise.  Living in a tent would have been my version of running away.

Drastic Action #3) Selling all my stuff – And we have a winner.  Sort of.  See, I already did it.  But not really.  Haha.  Confused yet?  I’ll start at the beginning.  For the past 3-4 years, at various points, I have felt like God was telling me to sell all of my stuff.  A couple of times, I have half-way done it.  Sold a few things on Craig’s List, told my friends they could buy anything of mine when they came over.  I even sold a few things that I really wanted to keep.  That’s good enough, right?  I guess I just never really looked at it like disobedience when I “sort of” did it, but that’s what it was.  I don’t think I ever fully acknowledged that when God said “everything”, He meant that He did not want me to put any limitations on it.  But I did.  I always said things like, “OK, I will be willing to sell everything except for my keyboard and my favorite mirror.”  It’s a really great mirror, all right?  And, in addition to putting limitations on it, I never went out of my way to sell anything.  Never advertised everything as being for sale…just kind of told friends and stuff.  In other words, I didn’t really leave it in God’s hands.  I was sort of passively willing to do what He said.  And so, when I was seeking Him out, God kept bringing all of this back to mind.  Reminding me of places in my journals where I have written down that I felt like God wanted me to sell my stuff.  It’s written down multiple times over the past few years.  I can’t deny that I have heard it.  I never wrote that God wanted me to sell some of my stuff.  So, God had been reminding me of all of this.  And then I went to hear John Eldredge speak about his new book, Walking With God.  His book is about listening for, recognizing and obeying the voice of God when He speaks to you.  (The Eldredge’s keep cropping up in my life, don’t they?)  After leaving his talk, I couldn’t ignore the voice telling me to sell all of my stuff.  I tried to ignore it.  And I tried to argue with it, and I tried to pretend I thought it was just me trying to do something stupid because I was bored again.  But I couldn’t convince myself of that.  Every time I prayed, “Do you REALLY want me to do that, God?”  It was like God was screaming (not audibly), “YES, I told you that a long time ago.”  It still seemed a little silly to me, like I was trying to prove myself or something; honestly, I was somewhat worried about what people would think…that they would think I was trying to be special or get some sort of award when it wasn’t like that at all.  I wanted confirmation.  And so that night, I tried to go to bed without doing anything about it.  I thought I was justified in wanting confirmation.  But I couldn’t go to bed.  I was uncomfortable.  I knew what God wanted me to do.  Finally, I got up.  I went to the computer.  I posted an ad.  “Everything Sale” it said.  That was a Sunday night, so I knew I would have to re-post it before the weekend came so it would pop back up on the list, but this was sort of necessary for me.  I couldn’t back out once I put it out there for everyone to see.  I was still hoping for a little confirmation, though. 

So, the next morning, I was talking to my mom on the way to work.  She was telling me that she had bought herself a laptop.  (This is related, I promise.)  She was giving me all of her reasons, and I could tell that she was still sort of justifying it to herself…that she felt a little bit guilty for buying something moderately expensive and also pretty much unnecessary.  I should insert here, that I have never, once in my life, seen my mom purchase anything large that was just for herself and completely unnecessary.  My mom was excited when she got to buy a new washing machine.  She sent me pictures of it, if that gives you an idea of her purchasing history.  She always ends up doing practical things with any extra money she gets.  So, although this is NOT related: Mom, when you read this post, I give you permission to NOT feel guilty about buying yourself a laptop.  You deserve it. 

Anyway, so we were talking about that, and she said something about spoiling herself.  Or maybe I made that up.  I don’t want to lie.  Maybe I just thought something like, “Sometimes you have to spoil youself.”  When we got off the phone, I continued to think about this, and I thought about how I spoil myself all the time.  Not that I necessarily buy big things, but I do buy myself just things.  And I thought about how the reason for this was because I feel like no one else is going to do it.  If I don’t spoil myself, no one else will.  So, I wasn’t really thinking about that in conjunction with God.  I was not particularly listening for His voice at that exact moment.  But after this thought, I immediately felt like He spoke: “You’ve never given Me the chance to spoil you.”  And I knew that was God.  He was telling me why He wanted me to sell my stuff.  I have been so busy acquiring things for myself that I have never let Him have a crack at it.  This was confirmation #1.

Then, that night when I came home from work, I was cooking some supper and I stuck Alias in the DVD player.  I have the boxset and I just watch them in order.  It’s not quite as mundane as watching a movie over and over because it takes so long to roll back around to the beginning.  But I still don’t stare at it, so I was more like listening to it.  Anyhow, I put in the DVD where I was in the series…I didn’t look for a particular episode or anything; it’s just where I was in watching it.  Well, if you don’t know Alias, there’s a point when she disappears for 2 years, and when she comes back, all of her stuff has been destroyed in a fire.  She has nothing.  And she’s talking to someone and says something like, “You know, there are benefits to losing all of your stuff…all the paper…and sweaters I was never going to wear….”  This was confirmation #2.  Some of you might think it’s a little out there to think God was talking to me through Alias, but what are the chances that I would be on that episode out of all the discs from all the seasons…and that I just happen to watch it the night after I put all of my stuff up for sale because God told me to? 

Well, I was a little more settled about the whole thing after that.  I did have moments of half-panic, thinking, “What if this sells?” (Specifically my keyboard.)  And I thought maybe I would just have an exception and say I would sell everything except for that.  But as I thought that, I felt God clearly impress, “Trust me.  Trust me with what sells.”  I did make an exception for my computer, just because it has personal info on it that I didn’t really have time to take care of, so it was not for sale.  Just thought I should list that to be truthful…but I felt like God was OK w/ that.  God wasn’t OK with exceptions on the keyboard, though.  Or on my favorite mirror.  After the keyboard, I didn’t try that one out on Him.  I figured He was pretty much set on “everything”. 

I had two ideas of what God was trying to do, with Biblical examples to back them up.  One was Abraham and Isaac.  Maybe God just wanted me to be willing to sacrifice everything, like He just wanted Abraham to be willing to sacrifice Isaac. 

The second example was a little more frightening.  Gideon’s army.  You know, they were completely outnumbered already, but God told them their army was too big, and through a series of events cut it down to basically nothing so that He could show them His power.  I thought maybe God wanted to show me just what He could do if I was cleaned out.

So, Friday came, and I re-posted my ad.  But I still had the issue of what selling all of my stuff was supposed to look like.  I didn’t feel like I was supposed to walk around my house and price everything I own.  I kept feeling like God wanted me to tell people to pay what they wanted to pay.  And I kept thinking, “Surely not.”  I mean, “Take what you want and pay what you feel you should” is like an invitation to be taken by the opportunistic, right?  Some Joe could decide to pay five bucks, come back with a truck and load my house up. But it was the only thing my spirit felt comfortable with.  I got a grocery bag, stapled the top shut where there was just a small opening, and put a sign on it that said, “Pay what you feel led to pay.”  And I made a deal with God that I wasn’t going to look in the bag until the sale was over.  I kind of think God wanted me to do this so that I could be sure my obedience was not dependent on what I thought I might get out of it. 

Pretty soon after the sale officially started, some people drove up.  There were 4 of them all together: a man, his wife, a friend of theirs and their six-year-old daughter.  They came in and asked, “So, why are you selling everything?  Are you moving?”  I told them why.  They didn’t seem shocked or weirded out by it.  They seemed nice.  They also seemed hesitant to purchase anything – like the idea made them a little uncomfortable as buyers.  I told them not to be hesitant…that’s why I was doing it.  The lady said her sister had been looking for a futon for her son.  I had a futon.  So, they decided they’d buy it.  The husband and friend said they needed to go to the store and get change, though.  I offered for the lady and her daughter to stay here while they went, so she did.  We probably talked for 30 minutes, at least.  It was more like someone came over to visit than like I was having a sale.  I’m not very good at community; it reminded me, as I have been reminded so often, that when I am doing what God asks, He opens the doors of communication with those around me.  The guys came back, and they asked me more than once if I was sure about this.  I said yes, so they loaded it up, dropped something in my bag, and went on their way. 

I was kind of like, “Wow, first shot was my couch…I wonder what else is going to go?”  And then the day went on.  And on.  And on.  And that was it.  All day.  No one else even came.  It’s kind of humorous, actually.  I’m calling it the “sacrificial couch”.  It’s like I just had to have a token of my willingness.  I guess God was after the Abraham/Isaac effect.  I looked in the bag at the end of the day.  Fifty bucks.  So, I’m down one very ordinary futon, but I’m up $50 plus a level of obedience that I didn’t have before.

There is also something freeing, even though I still have my stuff, about knowing that I was willing to walk away from it.  (Or let it walk away from me.)  It’s kind of good to know that if I had to, I could.  Or that if someone steals something from me, maybe I can still be loving to them, because I don’t have that thing in a place of priority that takes precedence over seeing a person who needs Jesus.  And I realize that if I am willing to get rid of all of my stuff, then why should I worry about my stuff? 

Someone told me today that they were impressed by what I did…that it says something about where I am in my relationship with God.  I almost interrupted them with saying, “I don’t think it does.”  We both started laughing, and she was like, “Explain how it couldn’t.”  I said, “Well, if God has told you to do something multiple times over three or four years, is it so great when you finally do it?”  She said, “Well, I see your point.  It could be looked at as three or four years of dis-obedience.”  Exactly.  And, is it so great if I finally do it, only because I am at a point where I finally feel such a desperate need for God that disobedience does not seem like an option for me, because I know it would take me out of His plan?  I didn’t feel capable of handling being out of His plan right then.  Like, sometimes, when things are going pretty good, I think I can handle a little bit of disobedience.  “Oh, I’ll just deal with the consequences.  Everything is mostly going smoothly.  I can probably deal with whatever problem it brings up.”  What a ridiculous attitude.  The truth is that I am NEVER in control so much that distance from God should seem like an acceptable option.  I don’t guess that very many people learn this before they get desperate, though.

This has also taken me back to an example from a book that I’ve mentioned in my posts before.  I’ve stolen the excerpt from my “Rebellion” post, so as not to have to re-explain the situation here:

If you’ve ever read Prince Caspian of  “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C. S. Lewis, you will recognize the upcoming reference.  (Although classified as children’s books, the spiritual truths conveyed in these books are relevant and applicable to people of any age.)  In the story, the children are on a difficult journey…no path seems easy and some seem virtually impossible.  They are at the crossroads, if you will, possibly lost, and they all know it is imperative to take the quickest route.  They are having a bit of discussion (actually more like an argument) about which is the best way.  Lucy, the youngest of the group, suddenly states that she has just seen the lion Aslan (the allegorical representation of God), and that He wants them to go up.  The others do not fully believe her, thinking perhaps she saw a lion, but not necessarily Aslan, and, besides, Up is, in this instance, seemingly the most difficult and impassible direction.  Lucy is the only one who has seen Him, but she knows, without a doubt, what Aslan wants them to do.  However, she is out-voted, and they go the logical way…the way that makes sense, practically and responsibly.  Soon enough, they are attacked by the enemy and must re-trace their steps.  Lucy sees Aslan again, and He tells her that even if no one else will follow Him, she must.  She is the only one who can see Him at first, but this time, they have no option other than to believe her.  There is no alternate route to take.  Aslan leads Lucy, and the rest of them behind her, down paths they would’ve never seen, paths that they presumed were absurdly dangerous and that seem at any moment they will cause them to dive off a precipice.  He does not lead them down the “safe” roads, although with Him leading, they are safe. 

I wrote in the other post that I felt a certain kinship with Lucy, and I still do – like God is always trying to make me walk off of cliffs.  Only they’re not really cliffs at all.  But today, He reminded me that if I walk off of cliffs when He asks me to, others will follow me there.  Just like in Prince Caspian, when Lucy saw Aslan again, and he tells her that they must go his way now, this is how the conversation goes:

“Yes, wasn’t it a shame?” said Lucy.  “I saw you all right.  They wouldn’t believe me.  They’re all so….”

From somewhere deep inside Aslan’s body there came the faintest suggestion of a growl. 

“I’m sorry,” said Lucy, who understood some of his moods.  “I didn’t mean to start slanging the others.  But it wasn’t my fault anyway, was it?” 

The Lion looked straight into her eyes.

“Oh, Aslan,” said Lucy.  “You don’t mean it was?  How could I – I couldn’t have left the others and come up to you alone, how could I?  Don’t look at me like that…oh well, I suppose I could.  Yes, and it wouldn’t have been alone, I know, not if I was with you.  But what would have been the good?”

Aslan said nothing.

“You mean,” said Lucy, rather faintly, “that it would have turned out all right – somehow?  But how?  Please, Aslan!  Am I not to know?”

“To know what would have happened, child?” said Aslan.  “No.  Nobody is ever told that.”

And so that is where I am.  I don’t get to know what would have happened if I had obeyed without three years of disobedience first.  But I get to know what happens now.  And I’m pretty excited about that. 

Now, aren’t you glad that I limited this post to one subject?  Is anyone wondering if I know how to write a short post? 

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6 Comments

  1. John said,

    April 21, 2008 at 5:11 am

    RE your last question, I was wondering – but I certainly don’t mind! I liked the idea of the tent personally speaking

  2. zephaniah317 said,

    April 21, 2008 at 6:11 am

    It’s so hard to think in mythical or heavenly terms, like, “what good is all this stuff if I’m going to die and go to Heaven and leave it all behind someday, anyway?” At least for me. Sounds like it’s getting easier for you. There’s a word for it…let’s see…faith? 😉

    Keep it up…

  3. jody said,

    April 21, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    great post, connie. what an interesting outcome. hummm, i can’t wait to see what happens next. obeying God is sometimes scary but most often exciting!

  4. Ariah Fine said,

    April 25, 2008 at 8:04 am

    Just wanted to say this is great again

  5. Mary Jane Young Hendy said,

    August 31, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    I don’t know your name,. But I am feeling that it is time to be rid of my belongs , due to Hope and the desire of having a home to place all of my belongings, for 25 years I have put my hope in my Husband, to think all of these years waiting on him… we have 4 children and have lived in the most bazaar stations, and My heavenly Father my Lord and Savior was right there with me, I have my faith in him , BUT…. I was wrong to put my faith in man and god, Because We know as Christians, flowers of Jesus Christ we know that You simply Do that, I am thankful that God has held on to me, and sure glad that he has me in his arms right now,,,, for years almost every mo. I have my cycle of I just need to sale every thing, I have not had a place to do it like I would hoped for my benifit, I watch the show Clean House, and at the end of the yard sale I go crazy watching thing that could had been juiced in stead of the poor quality of stuff that is used in there new house renovation, I to am in to Construction and love doing the before and after jobs, so my excuse is spending up all my time in Planing on where I could do this big deal affair, that isn’t like me anyway.. but like you once in a while sale this and that,, sm. stuff.. But it has hit me hard again,, this time here I am , I got on the computer to find any one or something like it.. and first things find your post, oh boy . I read it and cried and cried,,, my daughter and I had just spoke of this right before she walked out of the room, I was telling her that I have been hanging on to so much hoping to have a home some day, and if we get rid of everything we can start our new life fresh.. I will explain that after my Husband walked out on me after 25 years this past may 2008 , and had found out that he was on his way to having his own life, so here we were living in his moms 2 bed room duplex 4 children 2 had recently moved out on there own they are adults, well so here I had two children that I was responsible for I decided that I would go to a lawyer and have him be financially responsible for us, to make a long story short, we lost, through the law and court, and even the judge was against me, both lawyers working against everything that I believe in, staying married for the reast of my life to the same person, and living happy ever after… I did my best to raise our children in a Godly home, and was a godly example to them an to my husband.. Drag him to church…. well that’s where I went wrong, he wasn’t a beliver in Jesus Christ as his lord and savior, when the kids ask him to give his testimony to them he laughs and said I am going to get in under your moms wings.. oh that is sad,,, and last week our Divorce was finalized, I had to move out and with no money but with belongs of every thing I had bought for our no extant home was all I had, I had to move out of his moms home I couldn’t stand it any longer, well with the kids and I homeless, God provided two homes, it was my son and his new wife of 2 weeks for a few weeks in the town where the kids had to finish up there school before the summer , and my mom and dads house 44 miles away, God does take care of his children, we might not like it until we see it in a clear light, so I not only had a place to live but I had two places, God had provided for me, I am surely blessed, and the divorce, God had op end that horrible door several times and I just shut them and told my Lord Naa Not yet lord,,,, so here I just kept my self blocked in to a marriage that wasn’t meant to be in the first Place , I wanted it to be the right one,, I know that non -Christians can become believers ,,, that is a poor statement, we can’t change anyone, and you cant make anyone love you either. so Here I am , Broke , very broke, but I have my belongs from a non existent home, a broken promise so I want to sale everything and start over, clean out the old heavy baggage… I have been carrying, my kids are 13 and 18 soon I have talked to them and they have given me the go ahead , but to yes keep some things, and if God wants me to sale my shoes on my feet than that’s what I will do, but not until then ,,, I also like my computer, and it will crash sooner or later,,,, as of right now my family Pictures are sad to look at, all the hopes and dreams,,, I did give my husband a silver ring he had got me in Germany when he went with the army ,,, he never got me anything , no gifts just disappointments. broken heart, not just my but the kids, not being a good dad that they always wanted..

  6. Mary Jane Young Hendy said,

    August 31, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    Sorry for that above miss spelled words, , I wanted to add that I Put my Trust in Jesus Christ …. He has been taking care of me and my children, Pray fo my X-( husband) in God’s eyes we are married He truly needs Christ in his life,
    When I was reading the story above, I read about how your mother never bought anything for her self, and got excited to buy her self a washer, when I read this , I cried my eyes out, with my daughter, the story was just like me. it was like my daughter wrote this about me… we got a good cry out of it.. I work so hard, and feel like I have not gotten any where, I am 42 years old and married for 25 years , nothing to show for it but my kids. I am thankful that they also are Christians, Children of God. I believe God puts in our Place where he wants us, so that we can only depend on him, He will never leave me nor forsake me. when we think help us lord , we need to be saying How can I serve you Lord, for your glory not my own….I can only be a living testimony ,,, God is good, this is the day that the Lord has made Rejoice and be glad in it. Amen, thanks for your story, I will pray about it and wait on the Lord to Speak to me, and make his own way to do whats best. because I don’t know, God Bless you all…


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