Letting Go: THE Sweater

by teresalaynebennett

photo of striped sweater

This sweater is teaching cool stuff.

I know two very cute little girls who, if everything goes according to plan, will likely experience an event chockfull of pay-attention points in a few years. I know their parents well and am certain they’ll use this event as an SLE (educator-speak for Significant Learning Experience) to teach both daughters the letting-go concept as well as the gratitude concept.

Are you a parent of young children? If so, I do hope you’re fortunate enough to be part of something that promotes these two pay-attention concepts. There’s a good-sized group of parents in our church fellowship who take part in a very predictable, hand-me-down-clothes chain, which helps them teach these concepts to their young charges almost effortlessly.

Here’s what’s
on the horizon
for these two little girls.

Right now, an older girl in this hand-me-down chain is wearing the darling striped sweater (above) that she and her mother snagged for a song at a thrift shop run by a local, church-sponsored children’s home. The first time she wore it to church services, a young mother approached her and began telling an interesting story (though what on earth it had to do with her, she couldn’t imagine).

A few years back, when she had been on a mission trip to China, the young woman realized she needed different clothes. Being an average American woman, she was taller and larger than the wee Chinese women all around her. It took some diligence to find appropriate clothes that fit.

But she persisted and found a shirt and a sweater that worked. In fact, the sweater did more than “work.” It came to symbolize the whole mission trip and all its memories, gradually becoming THE Sweater. Once back in the States, she kept wearing both – until motherhood intervened. (Those of you who’ve gone through a pregnancy know that’s a politely veiled way of saying motherhood piled on some pounds, some of which stubbornly refused to leave, and some bones shifted and found new homes, also stubbornly refusing to budge.)

Paying attention to her new normal, she donated the Chinese shirt. But she couldn’t bring herself to part with THE Sweater. Soooo many memories. How could she just throw it out?! Besides, they had plenty of storage space.

Enter, The Husband. A practical sort, he kept asking why she hung onto something she could never wear again. “Why not just donate it? Someone else could be using it.Eventually, agreeing with her husband’s wisdom and sharing his concern for the less fortunate, she released her grasp on THE Sweater Full of Memories and sent it to a thrift shop.

Now we’re back to the point where we came in. But don’t get up and leave; we’re only midway through the movie.

You see, the 12-year-old now wearing THE Sweater will eventually hand it on to another girl, who will hand THE Sweater on to the girl after her in this well-designated chain, who will hand THE Sweater off to…. You guessed it: the story-telling young mother’s two cute little girls.

Is that not cool?

This story is simply oozing
with pay-attention lessons.

  • The obvious one, of course, is that when we no longer use/need/want something, we should pass it onbefore it’s ratty-tatty or out-of-style – so that someone else will benefit from it.
  • A close second in this story’s pay-attention lessons is the can-versus-should dilemma we all struggle with. Just because we can do something (store things we don’t need or use for indefinite periods of time) doesn’t mean we should hang onto our extra stuff indefinitely. (Read more about this exasperating pothole of life.)
  • Memories, by definition, live in our brains. They are not part of a tangible item like, oh say, a sweater. When we give the item away, we get to keep the memory.
  • Any used item given to us has value, even though we didn’t pay money for it.
  • More importantly, a used item can come to us complete with a mini history lesson that just might be more valuable than the item ever was at its newest and best.
  • Releasing what we’re grasping gives us a free hand into which something else can be placed. Full hands are just that: full. They can’t accept anything more. (That goes for closets, too, BTY.)
  • When we’re willing to release our grasp on something, sometimes it can return to us in a most delightful and unexpected way.
red box with white text: “The only things we can keep are the things we freely give to God.  What we try to keep for ourselves is just what we are sure to lose.” – C.S. Lewis

When we give to those in need, we give to God.

red box with white text: “...remember the words of the Lord Jesus that he himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” – Acts 20: 25, The NET Bible

I want to be the “more blessed,” don’t you?

Well, that’s a wrap.

Stay tuned. Next on the docket is the can-versus-should pothole of life – that pit into which most of us, including moi, regularly tumble. (Warning: it won’t be pretty.)

©2015, Teresa Bennett