Value People, Not Things

by Kelvin Belfon

Value People, Not Thins

One of my childhood memories growing up in Grenada was the custom-made plastic coverings on our living and dining room furniture. This décor trend actually seemed to be pretty standard throughout the island.

The purpose of these plastics was to protect the chairs and sofas they covered. These furnishings were usually some of the most valuable or difficult to acquire items in the home, and consequently off-limit to playful children. Despite this logic, I heard a different message being communicated to me.

Similarly, the fine china and other precious items housed in our mahogany cabinet were considered untouchable. They were only used during the Christmas season when hosting special guests. As children, we were served with either plastic or aluminum, even when the guests arrived for dinner.

I remember gingerly washing each cup, plate, utensil, and vase in preparation for our visitors, knowing the high value they held in our home. Washing dishes is normally a mundane task; but washing tableware such as these was a stressful project. The message I was being taught through these experiences was that these possessions were more important than me.

In telling my story to my Jamaican wife much later, I learned that she too had a similar upbringing. Their formal living and dining room furniture as well as chinaware also held a sacred space in the home. But in 1992 Hurricane Andrew passed through her city; and unfortunately, most of their valuables were destroyed.

Having survived the 165 miles per hour winds, her family experienced a radical change in their regard for possessions. Such sacredly held home goods became acceptable for common use.

I don’t believe there is anything wrong with owning pricey commodities. And definitely when one works hard to acquire something, caring should be the obvious response, right?

Yet, things are what they are, just things.

Things are replaceable. They wear out over time, get lost, stolen or destroyed. Things can give us a certain amount of satisfaction and enjoyment. Yet, they can create an unhealthy obsession in our lives if we’re not careful. And definitely, things should never supersede the value we place on people.

People are truly priceless! They are beautiful and irreplaceable.

Because of this belief, I’m even more so intentional in how I relate to friends and family. As distracting as the acquisition of stuff and the never-ending upward climb for success can be, I have to be even more thoughtful in my actions, speech and quality time with those I love. In the final analysis, there should be no doubt in their minds what’s more important to me.

Likewise, there should be no doubt in the minds of your family and friends regarding what’s more important to you.

People, not things, are our most prized possession.

Value people, not things!

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22 thoughts on “Value People, Not Things

  1. Ron Miaskiewicz says:

    Kelvin, I can totally relate to what you’re saying. I grew up sitting on creaky cushions and using your best china and silverware, stored in a china closet and brought out for the holidays. In fact Donna and I have the china and silver, we were blessed with, for our wedding. My mother-in-law, who lives with us (she is 92 and suffers from Parkisons). Insisted on bringing her antique furniture and boxes full of things she cherished with her! we actually had to buy a bigger house to store her furniture.
    Now the other side! Hoarding is a sickness! There’s a difference between hoarding and holding onto memories and tradition! We need to be sensitive to this! What may be junk to us may have special meaning to others! Watch what you discard, that belongs to others, you may be discarding a memory! JUST SAYING!

  2. Terri says:

    My mom once had a set of Royal Dalton dishes (I understand from her that that meant they were “good” dishes.) She never used them because they were so nice. Then, she moved from one house to another, and the movers broke them along the way. Lesson learned? Yes, she always made sure to use her stuff more after that. And, when I got married, she bought me nice silverware. I still have it, but have only used it once, and am tempted at times to get rid of it. Because it just takes up space and doesn’t hold that special “meaning” that it might to others. I prefer to use stuff that I love every day.

    Dee Williams, who lives in an 84 square feet house has a good line in one of her videos – “what would you want to hold in your arms as you die?” It really makes you think of what is valuable, and what isn’t. It’s the people who are. Possessions, nope.

    Great post, Kelvin!

  3. Lorna Black says:

    I remember the soaps that we got from the US back in the day that were never used because they were special perfumed soaps….until years later when all the fragrance had dissipated…and yes, the good crockery and utensils. Took my first boyfriend home one year and took out the good utensils and almost got killed…smh!

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Your comment is too funny Lorna but so true. I love it…Smh!! Thanks for sharing.

    • Isn’t it odd how sacred these almost forgotten things were viewed. It’s seems as though their memory was more valuable than they themselves. We would do better to just take pictures of them, create an electronic photo album of their memory and get rid of them since they’re seldom actually used anyway.

  4. Gillian Claudia Johnson-Baptiste says:

    Hi Kelvin I too can relate to your childhood experience. The funny thing is that some of these prized items dry rotted in those cabinets and came apart when they were being washed in preparation for the holiday periods. At my home this tradition no longer exists, but yours is a timely reminder that people are much more valuable than things.

  5. Marcos says:

    Hilarious! China cabinet and formal living room were also off limits at my house. Good word brother! 🙂

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      It’s funny because I thought I was the only one. Seems like most people have a similar experience. Thanks for sharing Marcos!

  6. Kellyann says:

    Bottom line, I really value the things thats irreplaceable such as my family and my life…I prefer spending time being thankful to the Almighty for His grace n love and look forward to hearing the next funny remark from my daughter than store up material possessions that not only takes up space, but time and money. Also, as the bible tells us in Matthew, earthly treasures creates dust (hence the washing), home for spiders n moth and can all be taken away by thieves. But guess what, they are replaceable, buy more at the store…but when our life n love ones are gone to meet the maker…they’re gone, no more just memories and if we are not mindful n valuing our health…Dementia n Alzheimer’s can take them away.
    Growing up with such traditions and cultures really play a part in the way I live my life n grow my kids up…for this reason I refuse to have buffet in my house…I say if it’s good enough for guests its good enough for my children. If my children can’t sit on it, then, I dont want it. Settings the table and allowing my 7 yr old daughter to drink her juice from one of the fancy glasses is what I do…I use all my earthly treasures because guests come maybe twice a year and I don’t believe when my master is ready for me, I would be able to pack a suitcase to carry them along…they’ll be worthless compared to the gold I’ll be dining from in Heaven.

    On the other hand, our parents, grandparents did what they did because of cultures and traditions and they didn’t know any better but it seems like for the most part we have learn a lesson or two and we are willing to do things differently for ourselves and future generations.

    God bless you Kelvin and thank you for sharing your blog !
    P.S I know I had alot to say but what an amazing and touchy subject…a conversation piece that can go on for hours and hour. 🙂

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Kellyann, I can tell that your family is important to you. I like what you said about allowing your 7 year old daughter to drink from “one of the fancy glasses.” We must continue to communicate to our children through our actions that they are valuable to us. I love it! Thanks!

  7. Kellyann says:

    One experience to share: funny

    Confession: I love love ♥♥♥♡♡♡♡♥♥♥ shoes!
    So I buy shoes, different style, colours, and for the most part for the different seasons. I had this nice pair of olive green wedge heel summer sandals I bought one year wore it not more than five times after each wear clean and store again til I wear an outfit to match. So last summer I did just that. Got to church all dressed up, sandals to match and all but just as I was walking out following service the right side decided it can no longer carry on…I was so embarrassed, quickly looked around, pretened I was picking something off the floor as I took it off and ran to the van…oh what a laugh for my husband and daughter. My valued possession 🙂

  8. Tatiana Jenkins says:

    KB,

    I really enjoyed reading this. I feel this is a great reminder, especially for those of my generation. Being surrounded by social media that presents success as having the next best “Thing”, it’s hard to remember how important a life really is. If we view lives in the same fashion as our parent and grandparents used to view their furniture, it would be a way different world. To see the importance of protecting and taking care of those who cannot without our help. To uphold each individual life as precious as the fine china in the cabinets. A life is worth so much more than a thing! Thanks again for sharing.

    -Tatiana

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Tatiana you make a great observation about what’s considered important to the younger generation. As you said, the principle still remains the same. We must continue to value life much more than things. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Kevin, your blog has grown so much since last time I visited it. Congrats! you are doing a great job. I love this post and the one before.I’m trying to simplify my life as well, but this last weekend my home computer crashed and I lost around 3000 photos. Photos that maybe I would not look again anyway, but I got so upset, distressed, accusing my husband and my kids badly. After a while I recovered, it would be good if I had read your blog that day.

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Thank you Elizabeth!
      The blog is still a work in process, lots to learn and more writing to do.

      It’s easy to get upset when things happen like the one you described. Life will happen, no one is immune.
      Be intentional to the best of your ability about loving people. When you mess us, acknowledge your mistake and apologize.
      Everyone knows we are not perfect.

      Thanks for sharing!

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