Reclaim…could this really be something? I remember it vividly…it was that moment I was talking on the phone with a dear friend of mine who recently got married and re-located a hop, skip and a jump away to Buffalo, New York. No big deal. We keep in touch, in fact, she, amongst a few other dear friends and family have been my biggest advocates through this process of, oh we will call it ‘refinement.’ Anyways, we were chatting about who knows what, I am telling her about my week, she is updating me on her new adventures living in ‘the arctic tundra’, when all of a sudden I realize that I am literally picking something out of someone’s garbage while we are on the phone…and feel absolutely no inclination to tell her. Splinters in my hands, after I had finished loading my trunk with who’s-its and what’s-its galore…I finally mention to her what I had just picked up. In that moment I came to the realization that I am far too comfortable with taking things out of someone else’s trash pile…there has got to be something to this.
As I started to process the way my mind has always been drawn to take a second look when passing by people’s bulk trash piles, I began to realize that there is much deeper meaning in this sort of ‘filthy’ hobby. There is a mind-set I want to possess behind all of this…I want to be drawn to the unwanted, overlooked and undervalued. I want to see people for who they, the stories they have to share and the value of endless possibilities they possess. That man on the street corner, though he may not be looking his best, or smelling his freshest…I want to see the beauty that lies deep within his soul. I realize that people and things are not to be compared as equals, and as absurd of a comparison as it might sound…it’s more about the mindset I am challenged to possess. Believe me, it is a challenge…in a society which often equates beauty with value I can so often be prone to do the same.
I believe that this was/is the mindset of Jesus. He was drawn to the poor in spirit, the broken hearted, the downcast, the untouchable. He saw great value in all people, no matter what they looked like or how many issues they brought to the table. If we truly see to the bottom of peoples souls, we will truly see the hope which they possess and their great potential to be made into something beautiful. You see, we were all once unlovely, downcast and hopeless. We were all given a second look by the creator of the universe, because we were all created with great worth, value and purpose. He looked down and saw us all as worth the second chance. Without that chance, I would have no capacity to see people in this light…we have been given hope to extend hope to others.
So when I think about where this journey may lead, and how I might be able to tell the story of reclaim…I think about seeing and telling the stories behind the reclaimed. It’s about the story of the pallet which I saw in someones trash, picked up with my bare hands and carried back to my house which was transformed into a swing where I am able to have some of my most peaceful moments. It’s the woman’s story of freedom, healing and redemption I heard when I slowed down and took a few minutes to not just smile and say hello, but to truly listen to. It’s the story behind the gathering which was made to feel safe, warm and welcoming by the items once deemed by someone else to be ‘trash’. It’s your personal story about a ‘not so pretty’ time in your life in which you never thought it possible to see the other side of, which in the end, has caused you to shine brighter and is now used to encourage, inspire and bring hope to others. It’s the story behind the table made from an old reclaimed door found on the street which me and my closest friends sat around while sharing a great meal, drinking good wine together and talking about matters of the heart. Or that conversation piece in your home which brings life and character to your living room and welcomes new guests through your front door. It’s the story of freedom deep within the eyes of the shy teenage girl who just spent years living in the bondage of sex slavery. The married couple whose marriage was just restored. The man who was recently released from jail, who is now desperately seeking a fresh start. The girl who is free from her eating disorder and now sees herself as beautiful. The story of the orphan who spent years in foster care who has been adopted by a loving family and now feels worthy of someone else’s love. Stories of something…made from nothing…stories which shine light where there was once complete darkness. Stories of change, hope and new life.
You see, to reclaim is to ‘bring back, as from error to a right or proper course.’ When I think about the proper course…I know which direction this leads to. The gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, (Matt 7:14) I want to be about bringing as many through those gates with me as I can. For that day is coming, but until then, may we not be above slowing down, pulling over, and seeing the potential of beauty in things though they may be covered by dust. Rest assured that dust can often just be a result of neglect, a lack of love and care. See for yourself, they might not be as shiny or appealing to the eye, but give it some time, invest your love and you’ll see just what I’m talking about. I am convinced that there is not a living soul on this earth that is too far gone. May we be about seeing through the outside layer and take the time to dig deep down and see the matters of someones heart. As you begin to open your eyes, you may find yourself digging through a complete strangers trash pile, and even finding joy in it…it might even become so natural to you that you may not even feel the need to tell the person on the other end of the phone.
I’m going to slow down, pull over, take the second look and challenge myself and others to see things differently. I’m going to reclaim…trash, furniture, gatherings, reclaim stories of the broken, the hopeless and the unwanted. Reclaim dignity, a future, hope. I want to look deep into the eyes of people, call them by name and see them as valuable, because I believe in doing so, we will gain in more ways than we ever could have imagined…and because it’s what has been put inside my heart to do.
Will you join me?