To an outsider, it is nothing but a 220 year old house with numerous problems to be fixed and tons of junk to be removed. To those who grew up and lived in that home, it is treasure chest filled with memories and physical reminders of both good times and bad.
Having spent the better part of the past 10 days either driving or helping sort and pack a house full of "stuff", it amazes me how something can be viewed in one light by one person and entirely different by another. Truly one person's trash is another person's treasure.
Before leaving yesterday morning I sat with my frazzled 81 year old mother-in-law talking about "things". Surrounded by boxes, papers, and a multitude of plates, bowls, cups and other things, my heart broke for this wonderful woman as she struggles with deciding what to keep and what to part with.
My mother-in-law has been very active in church matters her whole life. Her life has always revolved around Christ and she has given hundreds of thousands of hours to charity work, sitting on church committees and even traveling to Africa and Russia on mission trips. Although she is not religious, she is deeply committed to Christ and her lifestyle bears witness to this.
Time and again yesterday morning, Barbara spoke out loud her wonder at how she accumulated so much over the years and her fear of having to live the rest of her life without things which have been her companion for many years. See, my father-in-law (who was a doctor) walked out on the family to be with another woman 35 years ago and once the last child went off to college, Barbara lived in this huge house alone with only her belongings and relationship with Christ to pull her through.
Family members do not understand why she spends hours going through boxes of ancient letters, but both my wife and I do. People advocate she just donate 90% of all she has to charity and start over. How can a 81 year old woman with some health issues do that? It both angers and hurts me to see the lack of patience and understanding so many have for the elderly and what they are facing as they must move out of their refuge and part with things that have kept them company for decades.
The apostle Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:14:
"Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men ."
Without question, an older person many times is "feebleminded" and usually weak. Instead of getting angry with them for disrupting our lives, we need to be comforting, supporting and most of all PATIENT.
As our parents or grandparents get older and older, I pray we all remember to help, comfort and guide them instead of getting mad at them and vanishing. We must always remember that it is the very young, the very old, the very poor and the very sick who need all the love of God in our hearts the most!