Collecting Pieces of the Past

I recently discovered a new show called “American Pickers.” It is a really entertaining and engaging reality show that chronicles the adventures of two antique collectors, Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, as they hunt for bargains.

I was amazed at their knowledge. They can tell you what a piece is, what era it comes from, how rare it is, and how much it’s worth. Clearly they are dedicated to their craft.

In this episode, the co-stars are driving around making unplanned stops at small roadside stores, repair shops and junk yards in search of signs, toys, and other collectables.

Their goal is to resell their purchases at their antique shop. After watching the show for only two minutes, it is immediately apparent that they love what they do. And, clearly, they make good money doing it. People pay hundreds of dollars for rusted out signs and old toys.

Why? Because people just want to have more junk around? I don’t think so. I honestly think that people collect things from bygone eras because they take us back to a place when life was better. We were younger, thiner, happier… They remind us of days that we want back.

The opposite side of that coin is that I think we are often weary of our current circumstances. Life is hard. We want to go to a better time. We can’t go to the future, but we can visit the past as often as we like. It is an escape from the trouble of our lives.

Of course, there is a historic element to antiques. Each piece tells a story. And there is certainly money to be made in the antique business. But I am convinced that the antiques are more about how the items make us feel rather than about the things themselves.

Having these reminders of the good old days brings us comfort in the face of life’s uncertainty. And the longer we spend looking at the old movie posters, the less time we have to think about what the future may hold for us.

It is hard when it looks like the good days are all behind you. I sometimes feel that way. But I don’t believe that antiques are the answer. There are three ways that we can respond to life’s uncertainty:

Give thanks where you are. When it seems like your best days are behind you, stop and think about what is good today. The old folks used to call it “counting your blessings.” When you find the good that is presently in your life, it gives you a little bit of hope for the future.

Pray about it. None of us can see the future. It’s easy to get anxious about it. But worry is not the answer. Prayer is (Philippians 4:6). Take your concerns to Jesus, and ask for his peace instead.

Take steps today that will make tomorrow better. You can’t control whether or not you get laid off next year, but you can start a savings plan. You can start exercising. You can start studying. You can update your resume. Think about what you can do today that may benefit you tomorrow. Often just taking some kind of action will alleviate some of the anxiety about the future.

It’s ok to admire a 19th century chest of drawers. It’s not ok to collect pieces of the past to ward off insecurity about the future. Be thankful. Pray. Take small steps that will help you later. Don’t be afraid. Just trust. Appreciate the past. But optimistically move forward the future.


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