A few years ago Anita surprised me with a 1)suit. It was handsome and fashionable, and believe it or not, I looked pretty elegant in it. At least, I did—until I started bleeding on it.
It happened one Sunday when my young friend Tommy and I were visiting with Rosa, a member of our church 2)congregation. Our conversation had been delightful, and as Tommy and I left through Rosa’s garage (hey, she had one of those big dogs out front, and I wasn’t about to get paw prints on my new suit) we were doing some 3)good-natured teasing back and forth. Which is probably why I didn’t notice the garage 4)door opener that hung low in Rosa’s garage, or that my head was within range of the metallic box at the precise moment I decided to 5)lunge at Tommy.
Suddenly I knew what a baseball felt like after Hammerin’ 6)Hank Aaron got through with it. The blow to the top of my head 7)staggered me. I stumbled around like a 8)punch-drunk 9)heavyweight with only one thought in my suddenly numb head: “If you fall down you’ll get your new suit dirty.” I regained my balance and struggled to regain my composure—or to at least remember who I was, where I was, and what I was doing wearing such fine 10)threads.
That’s when the blood started 11)trickling off the end of my nose and landing on my pants. Still 12)groggy, I tried to dodge the staining 13)droplets. But to my horror I discovered that the dripping blood followed me everywhere I moved. Finally Tommy grabbed me and started wiping the blood from my face with a washcloth that Rosa had given him.
“Are you OK?” he asked.
For all I knew I was headed (if you’ll pardon the expression) for a coma. My career could be over. My family could be on its way to the 14)poor house (er, poorer house). Life as we knew it could be over. But all I could think of was...
“My suit!” I said. “I think I got some blood on my suit!”
“I think your suit is going to survive,” Tommy said. “But I’m not so sure about you.”
As it turned out, I did survive with a slight 15)concussion. No coma.No 16)indigence. Just some dizziness, 17)light-headedness, and a little confusion now and then. In other words: normal.
And as for my suit... well, to tell you the truth, it was a long time before I could 18)bring myself to look at it. A scar on my head for the rest of my life was one thing. But blood stains on my beautiful new suit? I wasn’t sure I could handle that. You know what I mean?
Of course you do. We all get a little 19)flaky about our possessions from time to time. Sometimes their accumulation becomes our obsession and their maintenance becomes our passion. We forget that a house is just shelter, a car is just transportation, and new suits—even smart-looking, 20)double-breasted, 21)charcoal gray ones with 22)unobtrusive 23)pinstripes—are just clothes. While there’s nothing 24)inherently wrong with having nice things, there is something wrong if those “things” become more important than the people or principles in our lives.
My Dad used to say that he’d never want to own a suit that was so expensive that he had to think twice about getting down on the floor to play with one of his grandchildren. I guess the same principle applies to any other possession. If what we own enhances our relationships and our ability to help other people, that’s great. But if it gets in the way of who we are and how we relate to others, maybe it isn’t worth it—whatever “it” is. Even if we’ve spilled blood over it.