When Nate and I got married in 1969, we owned next-to-nothing but had high expectations for future possessions. For a while we were content with hand-me-down furniture, dishes and linens, but when Nate got his first lawyering job, we felt our ship had come in.
After saving for seven months, we went shopping for a few pieces of furniture to outfit our small apartment in a second story Chicago walk-up. By the end of that day, we’d ordered eight items, one being an enormous executive desk for Nate. It had a black leather top, deep drawers for file folders and attractive oak detailing. A high-backed, black leather chair on wheels made the set-up look downright regal.
This was a desk that should have been shipped to the White House, not an old apartment on the north side. The salesman must have been chuckling on the inside as we signed the papers and wrote the check.
For a year or two, Nate sat behind his impressive desk whenever he worked at home. Eventually we moved to the suburbs to raise our family, living in three houses over 37 years and paying extra to have the giant desk moved to each new address. Four men were needed to maneuver it, and house design determined where it could be placed.
As time passed, Nate sat at his desk less and less. He preferred working from an old couch just off the kitchen, near the coffee pot and all the action. Watching his stately desk sit unused for years, I finally asked if I could store household items in its drawers. Nate had long since separated himself from the fantasy image of becoming a big shot and was happy to let me take it over. Our little kids used its foot well as a fort and the swivel chair to play spinning games.
When it came time to move to Michigan last spring, my goal was to empty the house of half of all we owned, including the contents of every cabinet, drawer, closet, the garage and our furniture. After all, we were moving to a much smaller cottage that was already full.
I was enthusiastically giving away, throwing away, doing away with our belongings at a fast clip when I came to a screeching halt in front of the mega-desk. After trying to coax a resale shop to take it, trying to sell it at a house sale and asking all the friends we knew if they might want it, moving day was fast approaching, and I was in panic mode. We asked the new owners if they could use it, but they had no interest. Donating it to charity didn’t work, and finally time was up.
The day before we moved, I called the movers and asked if they wanted it. Fearing they’d say no, I pictured myself paying someone to haul it away as junk. I asked myself, “Why did we ever buy this monstrosity?” Our foolish visions of grandeur had deteriorated into a major predicament, and in the end, the desk had become a burden to carry.
Finally the moving guy called back and said, “I’ll take it, provided it’s free.” He and his crew came the day before the move and hauled it away, along with its chair. I thanked them for the favor.
Pride comes before a fall, and thankfully it was the desk that fell… from high regard. It had become like a museum piece plunked down in the middle of a playground, not good for much of anything. Although we paid a hefty price for it, in the end we could barely give it away.
”Jesus said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions’.” (Luke 12:15)