October 5 - Hidden Treasures, Garage Sale Style!

Two newlyweds were having a great time getting ready for their first garage sale together after getting married. They had combined two full households of “stuff” and realized that they did not even need half of it!! So they had arranged to have this huge garage sale and were rushing around trying to get a price tag on everything.

“What price should I put on this glass, honey?” the wife asked, holding out one of her husband’s old glasses.

“You decide, sweetie; I don’t care,” he responded.

So she looked at the glass, figured it would be about 50 cents, and went on her way.

About three minutes later she heard her husband say, “Uhhh, why did you put a lower price on my glasses than you did on yours?”

“I don’t know,” she responded. “I just thought that was about what someone would pay for them.”

“Well, I think if you are going to ask 75 cents for yours, you ought to ask the same thing for mine,” he replied.

“But they are a different kind of glass,” she said. “One is dressier than the other. If I raise yours 25 cents then I think I should raise the other as well.”

“So you are saying that yours are better than mine?”

“Not better, just different.”

“But you are asking more for them. In my mind, you are just telling me that mine are not good enough, and I don’t appreciate that.”

“What?” she replied. “How in the world can you decide that? Over a glass? This is ridiculous. Can we talk about something else…please?”

“No, I want to talk about this. And until we get it straightened out, I don’t want to do anything else.”

Great! Here they were, newly married; they had never had an argument, and all of a sudden the twenty-five-cent price difference between two old glasses was creating a problem. Or was it? Did it actually have anything to do with the glasses, or was it more about their own internal dialogue around their self-worth that was getting activated by their individual perspectives in the garage?

Today they realize it was the latter. Twenty years ago they didn’t have a clue so the argument pursued. Here is how they would hope the latter part of this conversation might go today:

She would hear her husband say, “Uhhh, why did you put a lower price on my glasses than you did on yours?”

“I don’t know,” she might respond. “I just thought that was about what someone would pay for them.”

“Well, I think if you are going to ask 75 cents for yours, you ought to ask the same thing for mine,” he would say.

“Why is that, honey?”

“I don’t know; it just doesn’t seem fair.”

“Could you tell me a bit more about that?” (Notice the open-ended question here, no conclusions at all…whew!)

“Yeah…for some reason it makes me feel like my glasses are not very valuable…like I am not as valuable as you.”

“Wow…would you tell me a bit more about that?”

“Oh, I don’t know. It just hurts; that’s all.”

“Have you ever felt that way before…hurt and not very valuable?”

“Oh, sure I have. I remember when my Dad wanted to give my bike away. My bike was the only thing I had ever had of value. My aunts and uncles all chipped in to get it for me. When my legs were weak after I had polio, it was riding the bike that made them strong. I didn’t think we should just junk it. I thought its value was huge…at least to me. I felt he didn’t value me very much because he didn’t even consult me about it. Wow…where did all these tears come from?”

“What would you have liked to have said to your dad, honey?”

“I would have liked to have told him how important that bike was to me and that I would like to do something special with it…like have it fixed up and give it to some underprivileged children.”

“What would you have liked him to say back to you?” she would ask.

“That he was really glad that I told him how much the bike meant to me and that it was a really good idea to do something special with it…and that he was sorry if he hurt me unintentionally and that he loved me for caring so much.”

With that she would likely put her arms around him and whisper sincerely, “I am so glad you told me about this…it really was a good idea to have this conversation. Honey, I am sorry for hurting you unintentionally, and I love you very, very much for being so caring.”

Are your conversations with loved ones full of criticism or laced with curiosity? Do you hurt others with your defensiveness or do you help heal their wounds with your open-ended questions? Do you remember some conversations you would like to do differently? Are you willing to hunt through the debris of the past for hidden treasures of the heart?

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