My children are the delight of my life. We had so many happy occasions through the years of their growing up. I can recall stories of cats, and dolls and skateboards. But one thing I particularly remember from my daughters earlier years is her bassinet cover. It started early for her. In fact, I think the day she came home from the hospital she took liking to the cover of her bassinet. She held onto it firmly as she slept.
The Basinet Cover.
Over time, she got to the point where she would not go down to sleep unless that small piece of material was in her hand. Even when she graduated to a cot the basinet cover had to follow. Then as she grew a bit more, it became so important to her that even in the day time.
Of course it got tattered and dirty as well. And on one occasion I remember her standing underneath the clothes line hanging onto the basinet cover while it was drying. Something had happened to that piece of rag! At a time when we couldn’t have got 10c for it on eBay, it was absolutely precious to my daughter and we could not leave home without it. Despite what this stock picture shows, she never really took to stuffed toys, which was great because a small basinet cover is much easier too look after.
Who Switched the Price Tags.
The author Tony Campolo wrote a book called “Who switched the Price Tags”. He says, when he was very young, he and a friend got together, and decided they were going to play a prank on their local community. They decided, they wouldn’t do anything illegal but they would break into a local shop (I assume they had never heard of the crime of “breaking and entering”) but instead of stealing things, they would take the price tags and switch them around and try to confuse everybody. Next day when people entered the store they found expensive items worth 25c and things with very low value, with very expensive price tags.
Your Price Tags.
Now we all put price tags on things in life. We put price tags on possessions, reputation, education. We put price tags on our spiritual life, friendships, and our time. Everything has a cost to us. Everything has a value. But somehow today, things seem to have got out of whack for many people. Today things that are worth a lot, are not valued at all and things with little value are thought to be very valuable. Price tags can actually be quite misleading and price tags could actually turn on us – especially in retirement.
For example, the world tells us that possessions have high value. Yet we’ve all hit that moment when we’ve realised the unsatisfying pursuit of consumption has a cost and doesn’t bring satisfaction at all. One woman on TV last night talked about how her husband didn’t understand how valuable she thought handbags and Range Rovers were. I don’t understand that either! But pursuing things like this leaves us insecure and always wanting more and always questioning, “Do I have enough? Am I enough?” It has a cost to our well being. If we have swallowed the line some financial planners push, that our retirement is all about having enough money, our retirement years may be a time when we can still afford to eat or even travel but they will be particularly empty and meaningless. And what are you going to do with all your stuff when you head into an age care facility and have to live in a small unit or worse still, a single room?
The world around us tells us things like, “reputation has high value.” Yet, the constant upkeep of image management and the constant upkeep of trying to look perfect, a certain way also has a high cost. It actually leaves us quite empty, alone, and a feeling that no-one really knows us. In retirement, it leaves us with only the past to look back on and a feeling that something is missing in the present.
The world also tells us that getting promoted up the ladder has high value, but we all know that no matter how old we are, no matter how many experiences and achievements we’ve had, that someone else has always has more. That someone else is always just a little bit ahead. Just a little bit better. It has a misleading cost too. It leaves us empty. It leaves us self-focused. It leaves us unaware of the needs of others. These are the people who struggle with who they are in retirement because they are not what they used to be. If you ask them they tell you they are a “retired teacher/engineer/ technician/ whatever”. That’s a clue about that they think of their current status!
We all know as well, that time has a significant cost because at some point it will run out. But especially when we are young, it doesn’t seem to matter that much. We think we will live forever. Curiously, it’s not just the young. Try talking to people about planning their funeral and the usual response is “not now – it’s too soon.” My history teacher back in high school (last century) said his biggest regret was that his youth was over before he realised how valuable it was. He had wasted so much of what could be the best and healthiest time of his life and then it was gone!
I suspect many people do the same with their health and their spiritual life. They tell themselves they will get around to working things out one day. Unfortunately, many people put that day off for so long they never get around to working things out. They never discover the strength they can get from having a relationship with God. They never find the hope that gets them through dark times. And then their health falls in a heap.
So friends, if you are feeling lost, and wondering if life has meaning or not, its time to examine the price tags you have put on things in your life. It’s time to look at what things you have given all your attention to and ask the question if they are truely what you want in life. Maybe it’s time to begin examining your spiritual life and get things right before you run out of time.