When It's Time to Take Out the Trash

“I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.”

Philippians 3:13(b)

A few months ago, I sat at my office window and watched as the trashman loaded my old loveseat into the truck and hauled it away. The big claw came down off the side of the truck, grabbed it, and slowly lifted it into the dumpster.

As I sat there watching, I thought about the day Ian and I purchased it on credit. We were engaged to be married, and I was living in the apartment that would very soon be ours. We were two poor college students, so excited but so nervous about going into debt. On the way to our honeymoon destination, we stopped at Shoney’s and counted the gift money we had received. When we realized we could pay off our furniture, we were thrilled.

I thought about all the babies I had held and nursed and loved on those blue cushions. I thought about all the times I caught my little monkeys jumping on it, how many Cheerios and small toys I had dug from its belly. I thought about the stories I read while my boys sat on my lap, or propped their little feet on the armrest, or even hung upside down.

Then I thought about the whole other life that loveseat had experienced when it became a part of my oldest son’s bedroom. I remembered all the teenage buddies I had found stretched out and hanging over the edges. I thought about the broken springs and how far down a person could “fall” when sitting on it.

It had been such a great thing for my youngest son to have when he inherited his older brother’s room, until it was replaced with a larger, more comfortable recliner. Even still, it had been useful to the dog who quickly claimed it as his own when he shared the basement during cold winter days.

After a few minutes I realized that the trash truck had moved on. My loveseat was gone. I wanted to get sentimental. I wanted to cry. I almost wanted to run down the street and ask them to stop and give it back.

But then I realized how utterly ridiculous that would be.

After all, it’s not just about getting all melancholy over a piece of furniture. It’s about clinging to something that is no longer useful. The past, like that loveseat, may carry great memories to cherish, but I can’t allow it to consume my present. The past, like that loveseat, may also be a stinky, sunken, unflattering eyesore, full of guilt and regrets. But the past, well, it’s in the past.

So, I let the trashman haul it away.

Because I can’t be so caught up in what was that I fail to appreciate what is.