Since becoming a follower of Dave Ramsey months ago, I’ve watched hours of video on his YouTube channel. On multiple occasions, he’s said that he is only the steward of his money. He believes it all belongs to God, and that it’s his job to oversee it during the time it is in his possession. Honestly, I never cared much for that sentiment. My thinking better aligned with – my money and things belong to me. I worked for them, I maintain them and they are mine.
Growing up, I was not much of a sharer. I remember getting mad when other kids played with my toys without my supervision. In high school, I felt the same way about my clothes and CDs. In a more humorous example, during my twenties I would become seriously annoyed if anyone asked for a taste of my dinner. I was broke and going out to eat was a rarity. Oh the agony if it was one of the last bites and I wasn’t full!
Clearly I have possessive tendencies. I’ve known this about myself. In fact, I used to actively practice sharing to help me get over it. For example, using the dinner scenario again, I would make myself announce that my dinner was delicious and offer everyone a bite. Silly as it sounds, it did help.
I digress, back to Ramsey and his idea that we don’t actually own anything. With my father’s passing, my sister and I went through all of his belongings. It’s a surreal experience going through and processing the material culmination of his life. The most meaningful items were kept for ourselves or to pass on to his grandchildren, for example his baseball mitts and his chess board. We also kept items that were functionally relevant to our lifestyles. That said, he had many wonderful belongings that needed a new home.
One item in particular, was a traditional German schrank (pronounced shrunk). This is a large piece of furniture that had been in our family since I was eight years old. My parents brought it from Germany to Maryland and later to Montana. It was a central feature of every home we had since its first appearance. Even though I never intended to bring it back to my house, it was hard to see it go. While it was valuable, my sister and I had little desire to sell it. Instead we wanted a home for it, with a family that would understand its value. I feel blessed that we found a person who not only appreciated it, but knew its cultural relevance and who planned to make it a centerpiece in her home.
As I cleaned it for its new owner, I thought of Ramsey’s idea of stewardship. What he is saying finally sunk in to my understanding. During all the years my Dad owned the schrank, he was partially maintaining it for the next owner. All possessions are impermanent, no matter how much they are treasured.
I regularly teach my children to take care of their things and to handle them with respect. When we treat our belongings well, it’s an act of gratitude and appreciation. Now I recognize that it’s also an act of caring, not just for ourselves or for the item, but also for the person who will one day find it in their possession. Understanding this has given me a greater sense of responsibility to properly maintain the items I have. Whether it’s a toy, piece of furniture or a handbag, I want to make sure that it’s eventually passed on in a loved condition.