If it’s a so-so, it’s a no-no!
A helpful rule for making decisions about your behaviour.
It’s not hard to work at my consignment shop, but it does require discernment. Some careful looking, too. Consignment means that we resell gently-used and new clothing items. Piles, boxes, and bags of clothes are consigned.
The clothes are sorted into three categories based on brand name, condition, and style. Sometimes, the category is obvious. Often the line between is thread-thin.
Since thousands of items come in each day, we must be both precise and particular. No stains. No pulls. No missing buttons. Does the item function as it was made to function? To cover, keep warm, snap, wrap, or button?
Piece by piece. Sleeve by collar. Sole by stain. Subtleties become our best indicators.
Some clothes are brought in on hangers, neatly pressed. Others are stuffed into boxes and crumpled into formations that would make a sculptor question his craft. But at the end of the day, it is the item, not its presentation, that speaks loudest. Some consigners drop off their clothing and leave immediately, while other consigners like to narrate each item with a short soliloquy as we view it. Once again, at the end of the day, it is the item, not its explanation, that speaks loudest.
Is it a Keep? A Wrong Season? Or a Donate?
Is it a Yes? A please wash? Or a No?
The Yes’s and the No’s are usually obvious, but it’s that middle group that takes some time. It is sad to find a jammed zipper on a pristine winter coat. It is disappointing to find a teeny speck or tear. It’s frustrating to let the owner know that the scuff on the expensive sports shoes leaves it disqualified. One hole in a pair of jeans that was not made with a hole (though many of them are) exempts it from purchase. And if you know jeans, then you know the difference between holes.
If the item exists outside its original design, we cannot take it.
The standard for decisions
When I get to these items, the store owner, Elaine, gives me one standard. One thought to help me filter. Then, there is no question.
If it’s a so-so, it’s a no-no.
You’re probably laughing. I laugh each time I hear it. And, believe me, we say it daily.
As the storeowner, Elaine is in charge of keeping the store looking nice. Not bending on one item, or else we will soon bend on more. Not lowering standards because after it’s done once, we become more lenient, more numb. The store is no longer an upscale boutique. We’ve negotiated the mission and direction for which the store was first created. We’ve changed the course of Elaine’s business. The course for which we’ve committed to walk, as employees and willful servants of the owner.
When I struggle to pass on an ‘almost’ perfect item, my coworkers will ask, “What would Elaine say?”
To which I reply, “If it’s a so-so, it’s a no-no.” Then, there’s no question.
This is for Christians, too!
It’s tempting to lower standards and morals in our lives. It’s tempting to fall into poor habits and past sins. To justify less-than-holy relationships. To withhold our giving. To do in the dark what we would not fully do in the light. It’s tempting to think that we can live a Yes-Yes life to God, with a few so-so decisions, relationships, and habits. But we cannot. A Yes life to God does not include so-so’s. It will not be perfect, but it will willfully reject the so-so’s, knowing that they lead to no-no’s.
Are you unsure about a decision? A habit? Or relationship?
Are you confused? Are you hurried to fit a timetable that is not from above?
Are you impatient, fearful, or confused?
Take heart! God is not a God of confusion.
If you doubt it, don’t do it. At least for now. Maybe forever.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we are branded. Branded with the Name above all names. He has made us to look, function, and act in this world with Christlike precision. There is no gently-used in the storefront of God’s Kingdom. We are made brand new, by the cross of Christ, no matter how used or broken or holey we were before. Now, you belong to the Owner of all things. He has said YES to you. You are a keeper.
That is why we can ask the same question of ourselves, that I ask at the shop.
“What would my Owner say?”
“What would my Designer say about this decision? Action? Thought?”
“Was I made new to function like this?”
Then, we must listen. We must honestly look for subtle indicators.
Finally, when I am unsure about an item or have looked too quickly, I ask a coworker to look also. Since they are my friends and fellow workers, with the same given mission, instruction, and purpose as I, they may see what I missed. This makes me more confident that the clothing is categorized best. I’m not so alone in the deciding.
Ask a friend to help you sort. Be honest and invite not only God, but fellow workers, with the same purpose, to look for those subtleties. It helps, especially when we must be reminded of what the Owner would say.
If it’s a so-so, it’s a no-no.