Do It Yourself

Funny, how so many of us become attached to objects because of the memories associated with them.  How many of us have concert or movie ticket stubs from a first date or first time attending such an event?  I know I do.

My father passed away earlier this year (see “Dad (Warning, He Cusses)”).  Between then and now my Mom has been going through his things inside the house and either giving them to family and friends or donating them.

A little over a week ago, my sister and her family arrived at my Mom’s for a visit and to aid my Mom in going through my Dad’s remaining affects.  This includes things in the garage – outside the house.  What’s there?

Tools.  A Lot Of Tools.

My040 Do It Yourself

My father was the consummate do-it-yourselfer.  Anything that came up around the house that needed repairs or renovation was completed by my Dad.  I can remember only three times when a ‘professional’ was called in to do a job.

When my Dad would work on a home project he would always include me.  When he needed a tool for a job he would say, “The money I save by doing the project pays for the tool.”  Consequently, his tool collection constantly grew; and so did my memories of time with Dad.

For me, what lies in the tool boxes in my parent’s garage is not really a collection of tools but is instead a collection of memories.  And for any tool named I can recall a project, or projects, in which we used that tool.

So it’s not easy hearing about the dismantling of this collection of tools; of memories.  Each time a tool is set aside for a family member, a few memories go with it.  It feels like small parts of me are going too.

My sister has asked me if there’s a special tool I’d really want in memory of my Dad.  How do I say yes to one and no to another?  Every tool is special to me.  I don’t need any tool in particular as I grew my collection of tools in the same way my father did; so I have no objective way to identify any tool in particular.  And it’s not like there was one project in particular where in a tool was used that I’d want.

Well, that’s not entirely true – my Dad and I built my stereo system’s speakers and they sound great!  But the tools used in that project are the same as those used in any wood working project and so no tool rises above the rest.

Perhaps that’s not entirely true either.  My Dad gave me a tape measure when I was in high school.  That tape measure was used not only by my father but by his father as well.  So with it came my father’s memories in addition to my own.  But is that enough?

The irrational part of me wants to claim all the tools.  I want to protect the collection of tools and memories.  But, the rational part of me knows it’s selfish and uncaring to make such a pronunciation.  I know other family members have their memories of Dad/Grandpa and his tools; I want them to have something to keep those memories alive as well.

I don’t envy my sister’s and Mom’s efforts in passing out all those tools among the family members.  I know they’re being as fair as they can be.  And I trust them.

I’ve told them I’d be happy with anything and that I’d appreciate about a third of the tools as I’m one of three kids (my younger sister, my older sister that passed away, and myself).  That leaves a third for my younger sister and the remaining third to go to the children of my older sister.  But the truth is, anything I might receive is really enough.

I wonder what my Dad would say or do were he with us.  I know he’d want them given in the way my Mom and sister are doing.  But I wonder if he’d see his collection of tools as a collection of memories as well.  He never presented himself as especially sentimental – except when dividing out the belongings of his parents and grandparents.  So what does that say about how he’d feel about his own belongings?  I’m not sure.  I only know that the rational, practical side of him would want his tools to get used by the family.

I miss you Dad and I miss working side by side with you.  We accomplished so much.  Perhaps those are all the memories I need. ~jdoe

Locked

My040 Keys

Keys

We all have them.  Keys to: our car; our house; our desk; suitcases; diaries; the shed in the backyard; and the list goes on.  They are simple tools that we use to facilitate our lives.  They come in many sizes and shapes and even colors.

But have you ever really thought about what they also represent?

Authority.

Power.

Control.

Those in authority have the power and exert control.

If not, then everyone would have access to everything. 

Imagine total strangers walking into your home or office or other place you hold important and private.  All those places where you keep things that others are not to touch or use or read or or or…

And keys are things we can become sensitive to and develop envy of those who have them.  In prison, exile, the guards all have keys and exert their authority and power over we inmates by controlling our movements and access to things like showers, laundry, socialization rooms, exercise and even food.  And of course freedom.

With all this authority, power, and control comes all responsibility.  We don’t really think about keys giving us responsibility because we’re lulled into a sense of security, but what if you left your cleaning chemicals available to small children and an ‘accident’ were to occur – who would be responsible?  You.  So in reality you accepted the responsibility of keeping the child safe when you accepted the key to that cabinet of chemicals.  And so it is with every key we’re given – we assume, and accept, all the responsibility that ownership, possession, of any key we hold brings.  But there’s even more to owning keys…

Trust.

How do we come by most keys?  Someone of higher authority provides them; that someone places their trust in us to be responsible and cautious and careful and caring and and and…

When we are given a key we are entrusted to use our authority to exert our power and control justly and fairly and responsibly; because if we don’t, there are consequences.

So, what of Jesus’s words in Peter’s Confession of Christ?  [Matthew 16: 13-19]  Jesus says, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven; whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on Earth will be loosed in Heaven.”  Matthew 16:19

My040 Locked

Jesus is giving us the keys to His Kingdom; the keys to salvation and eternal life.  Jesus is giving us authority, power, and control.  Jesus is trusting us to be responsible, just, and fair.  Yet He’s also telling us there are consequences associated with possession of these keys.  This then, requires us to be cautious, careful, caring, and and and…  It’s a Big Deal to accept these keys because it’s a Big Deal that Jesus would entrust them to us – we humans who are so imperfect.   He knows we are likely to stumble and drop, or even lose, the keys He’s given.  That’s why He warns us of the consequences – what we bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven, and what we loose on Earth will be loosed in Heaven.  Matthew 16:19b

Accepting the keys is accepting, and assuming, a great deal of responsibility.  It can be scary though.

Why?

There are unspoken stipulations in Jesus’s offering of the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven:  that you give your life over to Him by accepting, and confessing, Him as the Christ, your Lord and Savior; the ultimate authority.

Giving our life over to Jesus isn’t something to be done lightly because it’s a huge step in one’s spiritual journey.  And it’s worrisome to give control of your life to Him because our path isn’t shown to us in its entirety but is instead revealed to us step by step.  This then, reveals that there’s yet one more stipulation to our accepting the keys Jesus offers us.

Faith.

Faith does not always come easily because it is believing with conviction and without evidence or proof.  (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary).  Therefore, accepting the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven requires an act of faith on our part.

Give your life over to Jesus and have faith that He will lead you into the Kingdom of Heaven – these are the unspoken conditions, in Matthew 16:13-19, that are placed on us in order to receive the keys He offers – the keys to eternal life.

Where am I on this journey?  I’ve given myself over to Jesus and working on the outwardly confessing of Him as my Lord and Savior.  I stumble every day, dropping the keys and fumbling around looking for them and picking them up.  It’s comforting to know though that He is there offering me a new set of keys should I lose the ones I’ve already been given; of course they come with His warnings and stipulations – and it’s a daily, hourly, moment by moment challenge because I am but a man.

Yet He trusts me.

Which means I have to have faith in Him – and in myself.

I hope you’ll pick up your set of keys and join me on this journey; together is better than alone.  ~jdoe