Among the antiques I inherited from my mother was an Early American candle stand – or so I thought. I remembered it from my grandparents’ home on the coast of Maine. My grandparents were both avid collectors. After they passed away, the dark wooden stand with three short legs and a narrow trunk that held two candles went to my mother.
When I was growing up, it stood in the corner of our dining room but never gave any light. That’s because, as far as I can remember, it displayed two wood candles made for decoration. When the stand became mine, I decided to sell it. Although it was beautiful, I’d been told it was worth $1,200 – far more than I could justify for a decoration. So I consigned it to an auction house.
Imagine my sorry surprise when it sold for $250. At that price, I would rather have held onto it – wooden candles and all. But several weeks later a representative for the auction house phoned to say that the buyer had discovered the stand was a reproduction – a forgery, a fake! As a result, it had been sent back, and the stand was once again mine.
I laughed, happy to have this pretty piece back in my possession. Until that phone call, I fully believed the stand to be a valuable antique, as had my mother. It took an expert – someone more experienced than either of us – to discern it’s true worth.
We are, each of us, collectors in our own way. While we may not be drawn to antiques or Disney salt shakers or ceramic chickens, we all go through life collecting ideas and beliefs about what is valuable, important and worth holding onto. Many of these ideas and beliefs we have inherited from our families. But what if the belief to which you are clinging is as fake as my grandparent’s “antique” candle stand?
Listening to NPR recently, I was startled to discover that a growing number of millennials are turning to astrology to make sense of our increasingly chaotic world. Even those who claim not to put much faith in it are basing significant life decisions on the positions of the planets and stars rather than accepting the helplessness they feel without them. But like my grandparent’s decorative wooden candles, such beliefs offer no true light to those stumbling in the dark.
Maybe the belief you’ve inherited is feeling that you are worthless, unlovable, or too insignificant to matter. Or that you have to earn your value through your accomplishments. Don’t believe everything that’s been handed down to you. The Bible says that the same God who made the stars and planets made you. It says that you are loved with an everlasting love. And that no matter what you have done or what has been done to you, nothing can separate you from the love of God that is revealed to us through Christ Jesus (Romans 8: 38-39). Even when the world feels wildly out of control, that’s an opinion you can trust.
So, what forgeries are you holding onto? Sometimes it takes an expert – someone more experienced than ourselves – to discern the truth. God’s word has withstood this test for centuries. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself.
Meadow Rue Merrill, the author of Redeeming Ruth: Everything Life Takes, Love Restores, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine.