Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Moving Lesson

Twice in the past week, I have shown complete strangers through the house - every ro0m, closet, and cabinet. Upon meeting them for the first time ever, within fifteen minutes they have peeked into my family's personal spaces, looked through our clothing, taken note of our valuables (such as they are), and made basically a complete inventory of all the stuff comprising our lives. When a half hour has passed, they know as much or more about us than almost anyone else we know.

And then they leave. And I'll probably never see them again.

They are the people who are putting together the estimates for our upcoming move to Springfield. They have to inventory everything in order to give us an idea of what the move is going to cost, which they do by weight, apparently. The guy who was here today was doing his fourth out of five walk-throughs of the day; he told me that one year he did a total of 750!

"I'll bet you've developed a pretty good eye for this kind of stuff, huh?" I asked him.

With a grin, he said, "You wouldn't believe some of the things I've seen."

Can you imagine what it would be like to do this job? I mean, to take a stroll through the lives of two or three families every day of the week, noticing things. That's what you would do - notice things. Not just furniture, but books, dishes, TV, stereo, Precious Moments, grandmother's paintings, toys, storage bins, ping-pong table, vacuum cleaner, bikes, the toolbox, golf clubs, patio furniture, the good china, and so forth.

And then the other stuff that you'd have to notice but wouldn't make your inventory. The breakfast dishes in the sink, the 10-year-old's dirty clothes from yesterday on her floor, the week's worth of a pile of mail stacked on the phone desk, the pee stain on the basement floor in the little dog's favorite spot, the pile of wrinkly clothes on the living room floor waiting to be ironed, the toothpaste globs on the 7-year-old's sink, and so forth.

And you notice all this stuff, you see into the lives of all of these people, and I can't believe it would remain merely a business transaction. Of course, on one level it would have to be. You would have to keep it professional - boundaries and all that. But wouldn't it be fascinating to get to know so many people by making a close examination of all of their personal possessions?

You would get a glimpse at the core of their lives. You would understand some things about the way they live. You would get a sense of their priorities, their values. The guy today said, "There are a lot of books, aren't there?" (Erin and I never thought of ourselves as having a lot of books, but apparently we do, relatively speaking.) Seeing all of our books allowed the guy to know something about us that he didn't know before, namely, that we like to read a lot.

And I would imagine some questions would arise, questions that could lead to making some judgements about people - Are there TVs in the bedrooms? How many video game systems? Does the living room smell like cigarettes? Does the living room smell like lilacs? Do they recycle? Are they neat freaks? Are they slobs? You would have to be pretty careful to refrain from judging other people based on the intimate knowledge you would gain.

Hmm ... maybe our relationships with our very best friends are kind of like that, too. They are the ones we will let see into our closets, knowing that they will see all of our crap, but also knowing that they're not going to judge us for it. And we do the same for them.

And maybe our relationship with God is like that, too. Completely transparent and open before God, revealing the dirty clothes on our floor and the breakfast dishes piled in the sink, and knowing that we'll be loved anyway. (Not that the moving company loves us, and not that God is going to subsequently submit the estimate of what it will cost to move us to heaven or anything - it's just a metaphor.)

Anyway, the two people that have been here were really nice, very friendly guys. We got along great, even had some laughs, and it didn't feel anywhere nearly as creepy as I thought it might!


Anonymous said...

Holiness was originally explained to me as inviting God into every facet of our lives…inviting God into the checkbook and bill drawer, what’s kept in the top of the dresser and the cabinet above the stove…into what we are reading and watching on TV. It’s more than these, but it’s these too.


Anonymous said...

The guy that noted "There are a lot of books, aren't there?" does love you!! Books weigh a lot (experience tells me this)and so poundage totals escalate faster equating to higher moving costs (expenditure history tells me this). Yep, those books equal potential extra dollars to his company - he loves you!!!!
Don't get rid of the books.

Anonymous said...

This is the easy part of moving from one church to another - something that you can "do" to prepare. Preparing for leaving a place where you have invested several years of your lives, where there are people that you love and who love you back, where memories have been made - WHEW! It hurts. But then you find more wonderful people waiting to love you and let you love them and you start making more memories, and you begin to smile a little whenever you think of the place and the people that you left behind. And the pain changes to a sort of warmth of feeling that washes over you as you remember. cb

Danny Boy said...

I've said it for years that if you just open your eyes and care to take notice, you can learn a surprising amount about the people in your life. Sometimes more than they want you to.

You have to be careful of some assumptions that you make with these observations since you will never know the entire story, but in many cases these observations can strengthen relationships. Think about buying that perfect gift at a birthday just by paying close attention.

I think that we should all pay more attention to our surroundings. Be observant of our brothers and sisters out there and know that we can show we care just by observing and seeing things in their shoes (so to speak).

Anonymous said...

I usually just move with trash bags...what does that say about my personality?


Kyleinkc said...

JWZ it says you live in a dorm! Just wait until you have a house then let us know if you can move out of it with just GLAD bags!

Dr. Tony said...

I remember the last time that I actually used a moving company to move us. The first company walked through and pointed out what we could pack ourselves in order to save money. We had three others companies do a walk through and we modified what we were shipping based on the previous walk through, taking out the things that we could pack.

In the end, after four companies gave us estimates, we went with the first company and saved a major amount of money.

Anonymous said...


There's a small book - unfortunately I don't recall the title - that I've read in the last five years that does describe what would you be able to show or say to God by having Him in every room of your house. We read it as part of my Sunday School class. It was an eye opening read and makes you stop and think.