71: Someone Else’s Blessing

71: Someone Else’s Blessing

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Less

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Someone Else’s Blessing

Help one another; there’s no time like the present and no present like the time.

~James Durst

I clenched the phone in my hand, blew out a deep breath, and muttered, “Okay Lord, here goes nothing.”

My friend answered on the first ring. I closed my eyes and said, “Hi, it’s Jeanie. I need your advice.”

“Sure,” she answered cheerfully. “What’s up?”

“What should I do if a good friend offers to help me with something, but I’m too embarrassed to accept?”

My friend thought for a moment. “Is it someone you trust?”

“Definitely,” I replied.

“And this person has the skills to help you?”

“Yes,” I said, “But I’d be mortified if she saw how bad my problem is.”

My friend poured out her gentle wisdom. “Jeanie, if a trusted friend wants to help you, accept it graciously.”

“Is that really how you feel?” I asked.

“Absolutely,” she said. “Don’t let pride stand in your way.”

I swallowed hard and said, “In that case, I’m coming over to help you get organized.”

There was a long silence before my friend finally said, “That was an unfair set-up.”

“True,” I agreed, “but you wouldn’t have let me in otherwise. I’m hopping in the car now. See you in a few minutes.”

When I arrived, empty boxes in hand, she opened the door and said, “How many times have I told you I don’t have friends over because of this mess? It’s embarrassing.”

I glanced at her gleaming hardwood floor and set the boxes beside her pristine sofa, glad I’d left my hazmat suit in the car.

Every time I helped friends get organized I always asked my trademark question: “Are you holding on to someone else’s blessing?”

Glancing at the tidy, sun-swept living room, I suspected this wouldn’t be the case.

From what she’d described over the years, I’d come prepared for the worst. Maybe her hoard lurked in the hidden depths of her basement.

“Let’s walk through your house and you can show me the problem areas,” I suggested.

She gloomily pointed out a remodeling project in one room, a figurine-jammed display hutch, and an overly full bedroom. In her airy finished basement a few scattered items sat along one wall.

This is what worried her? What kept her friends locked out for years? I’d expected Mount Mess. This didn’t even qualify as a foothill.

“Level with me. How bad is it?” she asked, worry clouding her beautiful eyes.

“Your biggest problem is thinking you have a horrible mess. You don’t. You have some things out of order. Nothing major. Definitely no hoard.”

Her shoulders sagged in relief. “So this is fixable?”

I bit back a laugh, picturing the household disaster areas I regularly helped organize. “Piece of cake,” I said. “Look around and ask yourself, ‘Am I holding on to someone else’s blessing?’ ”

Her eyes widened as she got it.

I gestured to the items against the wall. “You can store those things in an armoire.”

But she shook her head, eyes gleaming. “I’m not holding on to someone else’s blessing. That can all go to Goodwill.”

She hurried upstairs, grabbed one of the boxes I’d brought, and disappeared into her bedroom. Her muffled voice came from inside the closet: “I’m not about to hold onto someone else’s blessing.”

I ducked the jet-propelled stream of clothing flying from her hangers into the donation box.

She emerged and went over her dresser like a magician performing slight-of-hand tricks. Presto chango! One second in the drawer, the next in a donation box. I marveled at her speed.

After the de-clutter, we tucked crisp sheets on the bed and polished the lovely vintage furniture. I scanned the lemon-scented bedtime oasis and said, “You did a great job.”

But she grinned. “I’m not stopping yet. I refuse to hold onto someone else’s blessing ever again.”

She worked with feverish glee, banishing unused items from every area of her home. Everything from purses to exercise equipment to bedding disappeared into donation boxes. My friend dove into the organizing process with the same gusto I displayed when attacking a box of Godiva chocolates.

I’d never seen anyone part so willingly with so many useful goods.

“Um, are you sure you want to donate all that?” I asked.

“Absolutely.” She smiled and gestured to the boxes. “Remember, I’m not holding onto someone else’s blessing.”

She resumed her gleefully ruthless purge, stopping only when every box overflowed. I asked, “Shall I call a thrift store to pick this up?”

She shook her head emphatically. “I’m not waiting. This is going now.”

We shoved the boxes into her SUV and waved goodbye. She drove toward the Goodwill store and I headed home.

I pulled into my garage and squeezed past a pile of old lumber. Several bags of charcoal blocked my path and I wondered, “When did this place get so messy?”

I looked around the crowded area and turned “The Question” on myself. “Jeanie, are you holding on to someone else’s blessing?”

I inspected our home with clutter-demolition in mind. What I saw was dust covered exercise equipment, packed closets and laundry hampers, and stuffed animals staring at me with accusing button eyes from their lonely exile to toy boxes.

My trademark question, “Are you holding on to someone else’s blessing?” mocked me. Why did I have all this lying around when there were so many people in need?

I grabbed the phone and called my favorite secondhand shop.

A bubbly voice answered, “Good afternoon. New Life Thrift Store.”

“Hi, I’d like to schedule a donation pick-up.”

The jovial woman asked, “What will you be donating?”

I closed my eyes as “The Question” echoed in my brain.

“Blessings,” I answered. “A whole bunch of blessings.”

~Jeanie Jacobson

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