What Would You Grab?

Oct 18, 2017 by

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I remembered sitting in a circle on the floor with my Bible study small group—a bunch of 20-something, full of wisdom and godly insight. The question of the night was, “If your house was on fire and you could only grab one thing before getting out, what would you grab?” The leader intended it as a segue into the “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be…” passage, so we all knew the correct answer.

It was, “I would grab my Bible,” implying that it would be within reach no matter which room of the house we happened to be in at the time, and the most important thing on our minds.

Naming anything else would reflect worldly priorities. Nobody came out and said that, but this was Bible study. We knew the drill.

Still, most of us chose to be honest. I confessed that I would probably grab my purse because I needed my sunglasses to see and they were in it. I say confessed because I felt incredibly guilty for not saying, “my Bible.”

When I became a parent, the answer changed to, “my kids.” Everything else could be replaced, and I’d survive without my sunglasses. I wouldn’t be able to see in daylight, but I would live.

I pondered the “What would you grab?” question off and on last week as I watched the horrible devastation of fires in the Wine Country and worried about friends who’d been affected by them. The aerial shots of neighborhoods reduced to ash made me physically sick. A friend and I agreed that they fell into the “I wish I could unsee that, but I can’t” category. Those images remind me that many families didn’t have time to grab anything except the keys to a car, and hopefully shoes.

And I felt like a victim when I had to get rid of so many belongings before moving back to the Bay Area, then more when I cleared out my storage unit.

I recognized a huge difference between me and those who had to evacuate last week: I had time to think about what I wanted to keep and what I could part with. The need to leave my house before it foreclosed happened because of someone else’s choices, but ultimately, I got to decide whether to move to an apartment in town or to my parents’ house.

Priorities at the time – books and a few treasured gifts from friends.

 

When I cleared out my storage unit a year and a half later, I had another chance to decide what was truly important to me, keeping in mind that I could only take home what would fit in Cheryl’s van.

This past July, when Mom and Dad needed to free up space in their garage, I felt ready to part with more, including a few things that I expected to want to keep forever. But again, I had plenty of time, and if I’d wanted to, I could’ve told Mom and Dad, “I’m sorry, but I’ve gotten rid of enough already.”

All I have to do is turn on the news to realize that even what’s left could be gone in a “You have one minute to get out of here” frantic moment.

What would I grab?

Other than Nathan, and making sure my parents also heard the announcement, I have no idea. I’ve stopped pretending to know what I would do in a situation that hasn’t happened to me yet.

What would I be forced to leave behind? Probably contents of my bedroom/office, published books, my computer with works-in-progress on it, knitting project, all that I kept from my old house, possibly even my Bible depending on which room I happened to be in when the “Get out now” alert came.

Once reality sunk in, I would feel as devastated as those thousands of families are right now.

I’ve given up the phrase, “It’s just stuff” because, as true as that is, I know how hard it is to part with what means something to me, especially when a traumatic event made it necessary. In my opinion, it minimizes the pain of loss.

But I know I would be okay without whatever got left behind as long as everyone I loved was safe.

What about you?

How have the events of the past few weeks reshaped your thinking and what is important to you?

How have the events of the past few weeks reshaped your thinking? Click To Tweet

 

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2 Comments

  1. Some “Stuff” is important to us because it represents people and memories. That kind of stuff is more valuable than the practical things we need. But I can’t imagine how terrible it must be for the people who have lost both. I’m praying for those who have gone through the fires, and the hurricanes.

  2. I remember being quite young and giving the “my bible” answer to that question! So spiritual. LOL!

    I’ve had those same struggles about my stuff, and like Janet said, it’s because of what it represents. I tend to want to be able to hold and look at something that reminds me of a particular time in my life that I’m afraid I’ll forget otherwise, but who has room for all that? *Sigh*

    All this craziness with fires and weather does make one think about what we really NEED.

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