I’m not really into TV.
Maybe it was the fact that my family didn’t have cable growing up. Occasionally we would get a month for free because the cable guy (not Larry) felt sorry for us. During that month, we would record as many episodes of My Little Ponies and Carebears as possible, so we could watch them on repeat during the other 11 months of the year. But we never signed up for a cable plan. My parents wanted my sisters and me to spend time reading books and playing outside. And to boost our book-worminess, they even paid us a penny for every page we read… In retrospect, cable might have been cheaper.
This lack of cable-culture has followed me into my adulthood. While lots of my friends invest in TV-internet bundles or subscribe to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu+ (or all three), I can’t seem to make the leap. Yes, I know that there are loads of great shows out there, and I’ve even become mildly addicted to a few of them (Lost, Once upon a Time, Psych, and most recently, Downton Abbey), but for some reason I’m still not willing to pay the $7 per month to watch them whenever I want. Old habits die hard, and my family’s cable-free existence has proven especially resilient.
But fortunately, a cable-free life isn’t all bad, and public access TV isn’t completely terrible. To this day, my family still only has local television, and I still get to watch How It’s Made marathons and the NASA channel. The space shuttle Thanksgiving episode is top-notch, by the way. Don’t hide it; I know you’re jealous.
In fact, if I had grown up with cable, I might not have discovered one of my all-time favorite programs: The Antiques Roadshow. In case you aren’t familiar with the premise, it’s exactly what it sounds like. People bring in their random old stuff (hence the “antiques”) to have it appraised by experts who travel around the country (hence the “roadshow”). It’s awesome, and you never know what you’ll find. Sometimes, stuff that seemed valuable ends up being complete duds. But other times, that apparent piece of junk painting that someone’s grandmother’s cousin’s daughter bought at a garage sale for $5 fifty years ago ends up being worth a ton. The owners’ reactions are the best part. When the expert tells them that their trash is actually a treasure, their responses are priceless, as this video shows. (Parental Advisory: She says a bad word at the end.)
But what makes something valuable? That’s a great question. While I’m not an expert on antiques, I am an expert on The Antiques Roadshow. Having watched it for years, I’ve noticed some interesting things. You see, despite the name “antique,” an object’s age usually isn’t actually the most important part. A lot of times, old junk is simply old junk. What really matters are these three things:
1) Who made it
2) How rare it is
3) To whom it belonged
So if the expert can tell that the $5 garage sale painting was made by early American artist Benjamin West, is one-of-a-kind (or of a very small number of prints), and belonged to George Washington—BINGO!—the owner has quite literally hit the jackpot.
So why am I telling you about The Antiques Roadshow? Great question. You see, lately, I have been really struggling with my value and sense of worth. I place so much emphasis on how much I accomplish, how well I perform, and how much people like me. Without meaning to, I wrap my identity up in things that ultimately don’t matter, or that matter for a very brief time and then are gone. And then I end up feeling empty and inadequate, because no matter how hard I work, how well I do, or how many accolades I accumulate, they are never enough. Sure, they may buoy me for a brief moment or lift my spirits for a day or two, but then they disappear again like dust in the wind. And I’m left behind feeling just as anxious, worthless, and empty as when I began. I’m stuck on a never-ending emotional rollercoaster with no way off, and I’m prone to motion sickness. Go figure.
As I was walking home from campus yesterday and pondering all these things, The Antique Roadshow suddenly came to my mind. Confused, I stopped and thought about it, wondering how in the world it could relate to my current emotional conundrum, and then it hit me:
We are each a piece of antique junk. … in the best sense.
You see, try as we might, we can’t see our own value. In our eyes, we are ordinary, plain, boring, not good enough, etc. But that’s not the whole story. The Expert (God Himself through His Word) reveals to us what we really are: valuable, priceless, and loved. And why are we all those things? Because of who made us, how rare we are, and to whom we belong. The Bible tells us that the same God who made the heavens and the earth created each of us in His own image. And He didn’t simply make a whole bunch of carbon-copy prints; instead, he uniquely crafted us to be truly one-of-a-kind. You can’t get any rarer than that! And as if that weren’t enough, Scripture says that He “bought us with a price” and adopted us into His family, setting His seal on each of us. We belong to Him, and we are His.
Don’t you see? Our value goes so much deeper than what we do or who we try to be. In reality, it’s at the center, the heart, the very core of who we are. According to The Antiques Roadshow’s standards (and God’s) we are each priceless. But not because of anything we have done; rather because of who He is—and because we are His.
Whew, that’s a lot of deep thoughts for one day. I think I’m going to unwind with a snack and something on the NASA channel. Freeze-dried popcorn, anyone? 😉