As a ten-year-old kid, I was an avid collector. My bedroom closet was full of things I had found, which included animal skulls, empty bottles, various insects pinned to a Styrofoam board, and every Star Wars trading card they ever made. I was proud of my collections and added to them whenever I got the chance. I knew my playthings were different from other girls my age who had closets full of dolls and stuffed animals, but having tea parties wasn’t in my realm of interest…being a scientist or pioneer was.
One rainy day when I was trapped inside, I found that my trading cards were great for building massive card houses. I spent hours meticulously stacking each one up to build a paper empire. The thick rough edges made the cards much better building blocks for strong, sturdy structures than the slick Bicycle playing cards I had tried previously. My fortress was as high as I could reach while standing on my toes and it covered the span of the floor in my playroom. I even set up action figures like GI Joe, the Bionic Woman, and the Lone Ranger around the perimeter to guard it from enemies…like my little brother.
I also had thousands of bottle caps, which I collected by walking around construction lots. I loved spreading them out on the floor for counting, which I did quite often. First, I found each different type of soda or beer cap and put them into a horizontal row. Then each of those caps got a column underneath it of all the duplicate caps–with the best conditioned ones placed at the top and the most rusted or bent ones at the bottom. Yes, I was a little obsessed.
During one of my expeditions to search for insects, pebbles, and other random objects to add to my collections, I explored a house that was under construction since the workers weren’t present. I found an abundance of nails, wood, and carpet just sitting there unattended. I thought, “I could build an amazing treehouse with this.” So, I ran to find a spot in the woods behind my house to build a fort, where I could pile up the building materials I needed.
Transferring materials to my secret location was too much work to handle alone, so I persuaded my little brother to help. We took my father’s wheelbarrow and headed back to the construction site to gather as many supplies as we could before it got dark. Our newfound treasure was so heavy and bulky we could only carry a few items at a time, so we made numerous trips back and forth. It was exhausting work, but I was determined to get whatever we could while we had the chance. We took two-by-fours, roofing shingles, nails and even cut off a square of red carpet and smuggled it back to our hiding place.
We spent the next several weeks building our secret fort. My brother was surprisingly talented with a hammer so it didn’t take long before we were able to climb into our makeshift house. I spent a lot of time there, often reflecting on the sins I had committed to make it possible. I knew that stealing was wrong, but I hoped nobody would notice. I worried at times about getting caught, but never did. Unfortunately that led me to believe I was crafty and clever, which only led to doing even more stupid things.
My hobby for collecting things grew into a hideous monster that took whatever it wanted. Fun became sin. I became consumed with greed when my focus was aimed at protecting my false idols. This is a potential danger we all need to be aware of.
We can teach our children how to overcome materialism, selfishness and pride by demonstrating a heart of gratitude and generosity towards others, as well as openly worshipping the one true God. We must also be intentional in training them for battle with the hideous monster called sin. It’s on the prowl and waiting to consume them when they least expect it. We should teach them to fight as warriors for truth, with honestly and integrity. But the best weapon for victory lies a relationship with Jesus Christ, who has already defeated sin.