Saturday, December 10, 2016

This Old Couch

Our new living room furniture arrived this week.

We had so innocently strolled into the local Ashley's Home Store two Sundays ago after church to "just check out" a side chair to fit alongside our fireplace.  The beautiful new arrangements called out to us with their color-coordinated crisp new fabrics, weathered wood,  and rustic charm. We were totally caught off-guard. Hadn't seen so many gorgeous pieces together in the same place, maybe ever. All of a sudden, our old, worn, and well-loved furniture couldn't compete.

To be honest, we had seriously kicked around the idea of replacing our eleven year old, well-loved set for months, so along with the Black Friday sale price, it didn't take much to put us over the top.

On Wednesday we carried our old set to the garage. Our daughter and son in law had asked for it years ago, "whenever you decide to get rid of this furniture." So even though several others fought over it online, (sort of) we had to keep our five-year-old promise.

Something strange happens when you decide to change something as innocent as a couch or love seat.  All of a sudden when you least expect it, a bunch of those sneaky memories come tiptoeing out from nowhere and hit you right in the heart.

Whatever were we thinking?

How many stories were made sitting around on that furniture?  How many jokes were told, hugs shared, movies watched, tears cried?  Our old family friend, Snickers, slept on those cushions, piling even more pillows on top for the perfect nap. Dora the dachshund, birthed two litters of puppies (no, not ON the couch) during those years, and we sat on those couches holding puppies together.

How do you put a price tag on the tapestry of memories woven deep into those cushions? No sparkle, shimmer, or color-coordinated rustic charm could ever hold a candle to the priceless value of a Christmas morning gathered together, opening heart-felt gifts bought for each other, sharing inside jokes, throwing wads of wrapping paper at the bag holder (Dad),  purposefully  accidently overshooting their target.

We celebrated Christmases, birthdays, graduations, engagements, grandbabies, new son-in-laws and new sons from China on those couches. We high-fived the most exciting achievements, and mourned the deepest hurts there. Memories that come in like a flood are no respecters of feelings. They don't care about impressing the neighbors, or making picture-perfect Pinterest posts.

So as we sit on the pristine new sofa and loveseat, it feels, well, strange.  Not comfortable.  No indentations, no worn spots. No fingerprints or crumbs.

No memories. No personality, truth be told.

Its like we went house shopping and bought what we thought was the perfect house, not realizing that it was what went on inside that made it a home.

Speaking of houses, in case you haven't noticed, our family likes to change houses about as often as some people change batteries in their smoke detectors.

Part of the reason is because the realtor in me loves houses.  You don't peruse or Zillow daily for too long before your imagination gets the best of you. The other part is because it can be profitable. It's a great way to pay off medical bills, dental bills, and expensive adoptions. Add to this the fact that I love to create by fixing up older homes, or starting from scratch with new ones. When it's done, it's not long before it feels like it's time to move on to another.

 Change can be exciting.  There's reward in starting fresh, conquering a new goal. But there's also a trade-off.  You trade wings for roots.  Every time you transplant your family, you uproot and it takes awhile to re-establish your home.

That is where we find ourselves again this Christmas.  We are sitting on a new sofa, contemplating the old familiar Christmas decorations hung with the new during our first Christmas here.

And our old sofa and loveseat rest innocently in the garage.  It would be so easy to go out and move the furniture back in, just as it would seemingly be so easy to pack up a moving van and move our belongings back to the place we came from this past year. It is so tempting to go back to familiar friends, familiar church, familiar schools--back to the way it was.

" And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’ 
(Luke 5:39)

And we can't.  And, more importantly, we shouldn't.  Change has a way of playing tricks on your memories. You forget about the hard, sad, hurtful ones, and remember the great ones.  The rose-colored lens of memory is not an accurate picture of what it is now. A well-respected man once said:

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.” (Heraclitus)

A not as well-respected Facebook site gave me my un-scientific life-defining personal quote this past week.  I got:  "Don't look back. You're not going that way." --June Rairick

And yet, as bittersweet as memories are, we get to continue to create new ones. More graduations will come. More achievements, more celebrations.  More weddings, grand babies, birthdays and Christmases.

And one day, when we least expect it, we will move home for the last time to our permanent home that has been prepared for us long before we were born. And then there will be no more tears, no more good-byes.  Just endless celebrating with the One and the ones we love.  

And then we will see clearly, face to face.

 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (I Corinthians 13:12-13)