Garages tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. They are the ideal catch-alls because the space is really flexible. Unlike a bedroom or kitchen, garages don’t have to be filled with what they’re made for. And with driveways just waiting to be occupied, who needs to hassle that big door every morning and every evening? Just nail it shut and fill ‘er up. And isn’t it amazing the amount of stuff?
As my wife and I glance back over our shoulders, we have to laugh. Our first move into our first little home was so simple, so quick and easy. Everything fit into the trunk of our ’53 Chevy. The next move called for a little rental trailer, just a two-wheel jobber that hauled all the stuff we needed to set up housekeeping at a tiny apartment for grad school work. Four years, one child, and much more stuff later, we got into our next place (with the help of a couple of good friends who drove big vans) by packing out the biggest multi-wheeled U-Haul they made in ’63. That move was the first time I discovered why places were built with two-car garages. Our one car barely squeezed in.
Our next move? Hold on tight. We’re talking big-league, maxi-grand, super-long double-clutchin’, three-driver, nonstop, Brand X Van Line with upright piano strapped on the back. We followed along in our four-door sedan which was also filled to the brim with baby stuff. It was like the Grapes of Wrath all over again. Add a second child . . . a girl (which explains about half the van’s contents!) and you’re getting the picture.
I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow account of our next move from Boston (add another kid), but I’ll give you a hint. I was comforted to discover that citizens could rent barges in the Boston Harbor and float their stuff south. And when we came out west (add another one), you wouldn’t believe it if I told you . . . but our big two-story house with three-car garage (don’t laugh, we needed four!) was barely enough. Does it tell you anything to know our driveway was the only place where we parked ’em closer than K-Mart? I’m not saying there were lots of cars, but my neighbor was convinced we had a drug-dealing operation going or for sure were running Disneyland north. We were the only house in Fullerton that needed a paid parking attendant. This was getting ridiculous. And—oh—did I mention we had to build a shed out back?
We weren’t having any more babies (PTL!) so where did all the stuff come from? We’d moved out three who’d married, so why wasn’t there room in the garage for at least one tiny ’79 beetle? Some thought I got a convertible to show off. Show off, nothing . . . I thought no top would help make it fit in the three-car garage! I’m fairly resigned to the fact that when the “rapture” occurs, the Swindolls will be toward the rear on the way up. Unless, of course, He dispatches a dozen legion of winged station-wagon chariots to come to our rescue.
Oops, hold it! Suddenly I’m seized with the realization that—
the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way what sort of people ought you to be . . .(2 Peter 3:10–11, emphasis mine).
There’ll be no trunks or trailers, barges or garages in that day. Won’t need ’em. All the stuff of five or more decades of marriage will go up with one great “whoosh.” Everything. No, not everything. Relationships won’t be destroyed, they’ll continue on . . . transformed and renewed, eternal and simple once again.
Which reminds me . . . just as it is easy to travel too heavy and live too encumbered, it’s also easy to let that happen between us and others, isn’t it? Few people ever said it better than Anne Morrow Lindbergh in A Gift from the Sea:
The pure relationship, how beautiful it is! How easily it is damaged, or weighed down with irrelevancies—not even irrelevancies, just life itself, the accumulations of life and of time. For the first part of every relationship is pure, whether it be with friend or lover, husband or child. It is pure, simple, unencumbered.
And then how swiftly, how inevitably the perfect unity is invaded; the relationship changes; it becomes complicated, encumbered by its contact with the world . . . .
. . . the original relationship is very beautiful. Its self-enclosed perfection wears the freshness of a spring morning . . . . It moves to another phase of growth which one should not dread, but welcome as one welcomes summer after spring. But there is also a deadweight accumulation, a coating of false values, habits and burdens which blights life. It is this smothering coat that needs constantly to be stripped off, in life as well as in relationships.
Packed-out garages, that’s temporal stuff. No big deal if you stay unattached. It’ll all burn up anyway. But people? That’s eternal stuff. Let’s keep the “deadweight accumulation” to a minimum. It’ll take stripping off the “smothering coat” that blights life.
Want to know how to keep it simple, fresh as a spring morning? Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.