Here I am browsing through the treasures at a local thrift store….rummaging through the things that other people no longer want, hoping to find something that I can’t live without for a bargain. There are old tablecloths and handkerchiefs, some embroidered by wrinkled hands long since passed, and I wonder for just a few seconds who this item was made for and if it was special to someone at a different time and place. Was it an heirloom that inadvertently landed in a thrift store? Was it at one time held by a bride? There are also souvenir mugs, old dishes, and all kinds of reminders of days gone by. It’s always a little sad to me, touching things that once belonged to another family, and hold their own stories that will never be shared. Maybe ending up in a thrift store is in some way a new beginning for these items.
This particular day, I’d seen several items with a handwritten sticker that read “as is”. The first time I saw an item with one of those stickers, I thought to myself, “there must be something wrong with it”. As my treasure hunting continued I saw several more items with the same torn piece of masking tape bearing the handwritten words “as is”. I decided to listen to the message I was being directed toward and I pondered those words as I shopped. I wondered why we automatically assume the words “as is” means that there is some fault in the item.
We believe the message that those words mean the item isn’t good enough as it is. It needs work. It needs fixing in one way or another. There may be a stain, a missing button, or a missing piece. Suddenly I was overcome with a heaviness that felt like I was carrying a backpack full of rocks. We are so quick to label things in our world; people, items, everything we come in contact with. We tend to find it so difficult to accept anything “as is” as good or worthy. We think everything needs work, especially the people in our lives. Admit it, we all do it. We secretly try to improve, makeover or renovate everything and everyone we come in contact with, mostly subconsciously, but we still do it.
I decided to issue myself a challenge. Instead of looking at the “as is” label on the thrift store items and automatically thinking there’s something wrong with it, I would practice a different thought. I’m going to say something like, “Oh, this item is “as is”, that means it’s authentic and hasn’t been altered or changed.”
I’m trying the same tactic with people in my life. In ways that I tend to look at others as damaged or broken, I am challenging myself to look at them with new eyes of compassion and see them as beautiful beings who deserve to be loved and accepted, “as is”. I am choosing to love and accept them without an agenda to “fix” them. “As is” doesn’t necessarily mean something is damaged goods, broken or not working as it should. “As is”, means authentic, real, and most importantly, worthy.
Sometimes those small flaws are the very thing that makes a person or an item at the thrift store unique and special. Sometimes, “as is” means there is a story of survival and triumph amidst overwhelming adversity. That is the message; we are all “as is”, and that is a beautiful thing.