Sunday, December 4, 2011

Treasures and Priorities

The crash, followed by silence meant trouble.  I rushed into the kitchen and immediately saw the shattered plate on the counter. My eyes then flew to my husband. He stood by the sink running water over the fingers on his right hand.

"Are you hurt?"

"Burned my hand pretty good."

"Oh, Honey. Are you alright?"

"I'll know in a minute."

"What happened?"

"I didn't realize I'd turned the burner on under the plate and when I touched the plate, it of course burned me. I pushed the plate off the burner, but it shattered when it touched the counter."

"Were you cut?"

"No. Just burned."

I looked at the shattered plate. It was a piece of Franciscan China given to me forty years ago as a wedding present. Although that wedding ended in divorce, it had been given to me by my family and I treasured it. Since marrying Bill, pieces, mostly dinner plates, had been gradually disappearing. The set was now down to only five dinner plates out of the original eight. I had not heard the story behind the other disappearances, and could only wonder at how they met their demise. 

I pushed those thoughts aside and turned back to my husband. Large blisters emerged on all five of his finger tips.

"Honey, you really should put some burn cream on those and then bandage them."

"I'll think about it."

"And,if you go to the doctor, he will give you this amazing antibiotic cream that will immediately reduce the pain as well as protect your burns from infection. I really think you should go."

"I'll give it a little longer and then see."

I knew it was useless push any further, and with misgivings dressed and headed to work. As I drove, I thought of the plate, and could hear my mother cautioning me to be careful with my things. As a result of her advice I have many things I have kept safe for years, until I met Bill. He isn't purposely hard on things, but he is like the proverbial bull in my china shop. 

The silverware set I had received along with the china was now gone. Spoons kept disappearing until there were only four left out of a set of sixteen. Bill eventually confessed to accidentally grinding them in the garbage disposal. He has a habit of putting all the dirty dishes in the same side of the sink with the disposal and the teaspoons are short enough to disappear into the opening. Lying unseen, they become victims to the steel blades.

After his confession about the silverware, I stated, "Honey, I've had that set for forty years!"

His response indicated how different our thought patterns and priorities were. "Well, I guess it was about time you got a new set."

This comment left me speechless, and acutely aware my priorities are not always in the right order. I sometimes laid up the very treasures Jesus had warned against. Certainly I should be a good steward and not be careless with the things I am given, but they are not to be treasured above family - or God. And, Bill was right. All my priceless treasures can be replaced. Maybe not with anything identical, but definitely replaced with something able to provide the same function. That isn't true of God, or my family. They are irreplaceable treasures far more important than a piece of china, or a picture or any other keepsake.

I will admit, it wasn't any easy lesson. I was very tempted to mourn over the demise of that beautiful plate, the symbol of a  treasured gift, and it took some effort to treasure the giver over the gift. One final thought settled the matter.

When God calls me home to Him, I don't want to be remembered as the woman who had an entire set of unbroken china in her cupboard. I'd rather be remembered as the woman who loved God and her family.

Now when I look at that china set (and at our new silverware), I think of priorities and where mine need to be. 

12 comments:

  1. I am terribly sorry for your loss of the plate and the silverware, but, I feel you came out best off...a certain closeness for your husband, and, of God. You write very, very well Cecilia.

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  2. A wonderful lesson to learn even though I have to admit I am still working on it......

    I hope your husband's fingers are OK.....

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  3. Thank you, John, for the compliment. And, I did come out the best. My husband is okay, and that is all that matters. His fingers are a little sensitive, but the blisters went away amazingly quick.

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  4. Nancy, I am still working on it too. There are photos that would be hard to replace, such as our wedding photos from Africa.

    And yes, his fingers are healing. He kept them submerged in cold water for a long time and I think that really helped stop the burn from going deeper. Other than being a little sensitive when touched, they seem fine.

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  5. I find myself in a rut sometimes, mourning things that I've lost. Thank you for these words of wisdom and for the reminder of the true priority -- love for God and my family.

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  6. Great post Cecilia! Oh - aren't we all guilty of putting too much emphasis on something we think is "priceless" - when in reality we might be making them an idol in error. Things are just that - even as precious and fine as china - when compared with our husbands or children. Thanks for the gentle reminder - I needed it! :)

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  7. What a beautiful lesson you've learnt.
    I went to a funeral yesterday...where everyone glowed with the assurance that the man would hear from God on arrival in heaven... Well done, good and faithful servant.

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  8. I have that proverbial bull in my china cupboard, too, Cecilia--only he is hard on vehicles more than flatware. I cringe whenever he pounds the gas or screeches around corners. We all learn as we go, though--thankfully. I learn to hold my tongue and he learns to slow down! :)

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  9. Yes, Judith. That is what it all boils down to. It is our innate selfishness that makes things to complicated.

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  10. Deborah,you said it. We can worship idols merely by giving them the wrong priority.

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  11. Yes, Michelle. That is exactly what brought me up short, what God would think of my priorities and what I held as priceless, them or Him?

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  12. Yes, Jolina, holding one's tongue is critical to a happy marriage. An artful, respectful conversation is far more productive to handling disagreements or differences. Sometimes hard in the heat of the moment...

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