I was in a state of panic the other day; I had just awakened from a nap and was preparing to take my daughter to work when I realized I couldn't find my wallet. I looked everywhere: living room table, stand next to the TV, reclining chair, couch, the car, desk drawer. It was no where to be found. About two hours earlier I had made a purchase at the Quick Trip in Broken Arrow. I was dialing their number to see if I had left it there when my wife exclaimed, "Oh my gosh! Your wallet is in the kitchen garbage pale." She had opened it to see if it was ready to empty and noticed the wallet setting on top of the rest of the trash. We have no idea how it got there but concluded that I must have inadvertently scooped up my wallet along with some papers I had picked up from the table and unknowingly thrown it away. The wallet contained a good deal of money (I had just gone to the bank that morning), a credit card, a number of debit cards, drivers license, and health insurance card. These were things that all could eventually have been replaced, but not without a lot of effort and grief. Still, they were on the verge of being thrown away with the trash.
As upsetting as that experience was, it did make me stop and think: I wonder how many times people (myself included) throw away things that are valuable to them simply due to acts of neglect or stupidity? As a pastor and family therapist I see this almost every day: People "throw away their marriage" because of impulsive and inappropriate relationships. People "throw away outstanding jobs" because they rationalize illegal and/or unethical practices. People "throw away long time friendships" because of undisciplined chatter and gossip. Often we fail to consider that people and things we truly value can be lost in a moment due to careless and irresponsible behavior.
I was so relieved when my wife found my wallet. I simply could not believe the trouble that I had almost brought upon myself. But I was also more determined, that from now on I wouldn't be so quick (or careless) to simply throw things away. From now on, I pledged, I would be more careful to hold on to the things (and people) that I value and love.
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.