Portland: Finding value where others don’t

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I’m embarrassed to say how many times I’ve been to the Goodwill thrift shop since I’ve been here. I think I went 10 times within my first 30 days in Portland. After a while, a person starts to lose count.

ashley mims106Ashley MimsEvery week, the shop features a certain color tag that is 50 percent off. The tags rotate, so I’ve learned how to expect what color is next and when to hold off on buying something or snag it while it’s there. It’s a four-week rotation, so there are four tags—blue, yellow, purple and red.

It’s easy to tell which color is about to go on sale. They are the clothes nobody wants. Some have holes. Some are weird colors and patterns. And the way they fit is kind of bizarre. These are the shirts and jackets that people won’t even buy when they’re $4. They’re junk—pretty much worthless. I’m not even sure the homeless population here would like to be seen wearing these clothes, even if given them for free.

The tags rotate on Sundays. I try to get to the thrift store as soon as I can at the beginning of the week to sift through the sale items to see if something cool somehow made it through to the sale. But every time I go, someone has bought almost all of the sale items. It makes me so mad, because even though I rejected items the week before, maybe I’m interested when they’re half off.

Worthless to the world

But then I got to thinking.

These items are deemed worthless by the world. They have no value. Nobody wants them.

Sometimes we’re like that. The world says we’re too weird, we’re too nerdy, we’re too funny looking, our personalities are too strong. Or maybe you’re not very good at school, or you don’t really have any skills that make you desirable. Maybe the world says, you’re too average.

This reminds me of applying for scholarships. I’m not really anything special. My grades are average. I’m right handed. I’m haven’t done anything really cool like interned for NASA or been the president of the student body. I’m Caucasian, average height, and I only speak one language fluently. I guess I haven’t volunteered enough. I never win scholarships. On paper, I’m a nobody. Even in person, I’m not that exciting. I’m difficult to read. I’m kind of a stickler for the rules. I’m not very loud or outgoing. I’m a typical introvert. I’m grumpy in the morning, and I struggle with change. I don’t like to dress up very often, I don’t wear make up. I’m a person who doesn’t demand to be acknowledged.

Things that make us imperfect

I’m willing to bet that at some time in your life, someone has told you either you’re too something or maybe you’re not enough of something. Kind of like the shirts—too ugly, too plain, too many holes. Or many just not distinctive enough. Perhaps you’re stained. We all have stains—things that make us imperfect.

But every single week, someone buys these ugly shirts. When these shirts are at their lowest, when it seems nobody wants them, someone says: “These have value. These are worth something”.

In the same way, Jesus wants us when we’re the shirts that even the resale store doesn’t want. We have stains, and we mess up. The world tells us we’re worthless, that we’re unlovable. But God sees our mess-ups, and he knows the ways that we will mess up in the future, and he still thinks we are worth the price he paid on the cross. 

God gives you value

Even when the world says you’re a nobody, God gives you value. You may not be good at anything. You might be kind of plain, but you’re worth dying for. I wish that you could see yourself from the lens of the one who created you. 

Christ purchased you even when you were the ugly Goodwill shirt. So understand you’re worth something—you’re worth a lot.

Ashley Mims, a student a Midwestern State University, is serving in Portland, Oregon, with Go Now Missions.

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