It's that time of year when everyone is getting rid of the old and removing the clutter in their lives. For many the target of the rampage is their wardrobe. For me, thanks to my sister moving back home, it was the three shoeboxes of cards that were in the closet that she now claims. They appeared in my room recently and I looked at them for about a week and last night, knowing that garbage day is today, I threw them all out. This is momentous. These cards are old and I haven't looked at them in years. But they are so thoughtful and encouraging. Many of them were given to me during sickness and surgeries. I always told myself it was ungrateful to discard people's kindness expressed in the purchase and personalization of these cards for me. However, last night I decided this is not what the real issue has been in my inability to discard them. There are two more likely reasons I still had these cards long after I'd received them and long after the last time I'd looked at them. A quick exploration of my psyche will reveal them with little difficulty.
The first culprit of my card pack ratting obsession is my approval addiction. I have come to realize that many decisions I make are based on gaining and maintaining approval. I am intentionally working on making decisions more objectively instead of out of the mindless self-protection that has become so habitual. So, as I emptied those shoeboxes into the garbage I didn't look at the cards or really allow myself to think about them. I just repeated to myself, "I haven't looked at these in years," "I haven't even thought about them," "I will not miss these," "none of the givers of these cards cares that it is now finally in the garbage..." and so forth. The truth didin't occur to me until after I had deposited the bag downstairs to go out with the rest of the trash this morning, that the real reason tasks like this are diffcult for me is because I'm addicted to approval. Those cards I'm sure are loaded with approving things. At a time reading them would have reassured me that I was approved by people. And since I have no guarantee of people offering me approval in the future, at least knowing i have shoeboxes full of approval tucked away in a closet to refer to, was comforting. I like to think I've matured and grown in my security in Jesus that I don't need to have evidence of people's approval surrounding me at all times.
The second culprit is similar but a little different than the first. According to Gary Chapman's Five Love Languages, I primarily interpret love through words of affirmation. I think this aspect of myself has the greater responsibility for the reason I've had those cards so long. To me they were my love boxes. Proof that I was loved. If I felt unloved or unlovable, I could refer to all those cards to affirm me. Obviously my life must be filled with enough love, because I haven't read through those cards is a LONG time. The little scenario did cause me to pause and consider how I want security in love. Having those cards feels like that security because they are tangible and at my disposal. But now I've thrown them out. Am I worried? No. I'm chosing to trust that I will receive the love I need as I go through life. Jesus has proved his to me in many ways and more personally than any card ever could. Also, I have good people in my life, including a loving boyfriend. I'm not in want of love now. I may be in the future, but I always have Jesus to fall back on (though I want to keep Him as the primary source of my love.)
Reading of this victory over the cards, it's easy to assume that was the end of my interaction with them. Don't panic, but I did end up opening that bag of garbage and sifting through the cards. My mom asked me if I had checked them as I threw them out, for any from my grandmother who passed away 4 years ago. I hadn't and I almost didn't go back to look, but I did because, well, I'm not exactly sure why. I haven't analyzed that response yet. Needless to say I didn't find any from her and I quit before I got through them because I decided it was a ridiculous task, that I needed to get to bed, and that the letter and card I had received from her a few weeks prior to her death were keepsake enough. So, I have triumphed after all. Now I keep telling myself, "I am not hard hearted for throwing out those cards... I am not hard hearted..."