Hope Chest or Memory Box?

by Jennifer Haynie @JenniferHaynie1

I’m a Southerner by heart. Born and raised in North Carolina, I’m definitely cognizant of many Southern traditions. Like fried chicken and sweet tea, two of my favorite foods. Debutante balls. And hope chests.

I know it has international origins, but it was one thing that was seemingly always a big deal in the South, at least until fairly recently. In that chest, girls, from a young age, would collect things they would want to value later when they got married. Special outfits. Dishes. Jewelry. Quite possibly everything related to their hopes and dreams for the future. And their expectations.

But what if they never married? What if those dreams they so looked forward to never materialized?

Hope chests would become heartbreak chests.

That made me think about expectations. We all have them. I know them well, and mine were like those of many girls. Grow up. Marry in her twenties. Have children. Have a blockbuster career. Have it all!

Except it hasn’t quite turned out that way. Yes, I got married to the love of my life literally two weeks before I turned thirty. (I would have been thirty had wedding plans panned out the way I’d liked, but that’s another story for another time.) We have no human children, but we do have two marvelous fur children. And the career? It took ten years of wandering to find it.

That got me thinking. In my nightstand, I have two drawers, one dedicated to various items related to electronics. The other? A memory drawer is probably the best description. In it, I keep items from my past that mean much to me. Here’s a small list:

  • Notebooks from my earliest writings
  • Cards from my beloved
  • Hand-made cards from my oldest friend
  • The bag that contained items the breeder gave us when we brought Bonnie home
  • Sympathy cards from when my cousin died nearly five years before

These aren’t just things. Each holds a memory, a touchstone.

Touchstones are good. They point us back to events and people that have shaped us. They show us that we can survive and even thrive under difficult circumstances. And they can show us God’s faithfulness. Sometimes we need that. Sometimes we need to reach back and have tangible reminders that God loves us and has carried us through difficult circumstances.

Now it’s time to expand my memory drawer into a memory chest. And I know just the perfect place. A chest that belonged to my mom’s parents. A memory in and of itself.

Touchstones are good. They point us back to events and people that have shaped us. They show us that we can survive and even thrive under difficult circumstances. Click To Tweet

Question: What do you have in your memory drawer / chest, and why?

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