It has been said that a checkbook register gives a strong indication of a person's priorities and values in life. That would not necessarily have worked on me when I opened my first checking account as an adolescent. I took several types of math classes in high school, but personal finance was not one of the options. Who knew those pages in the checkbook were for recording checks and keeping an account balance?!
Just as the checkbook may reveal priorities and values, I contend that refrigerators tell a story of their own. Certainly, its contents will reveal some information about diet and eating habits, but it is the outside of the cold box that really speaks. Some people refer to it as "refrigerator art."
In homes where younger children live, the "fridge" will be a display of drawings, photographs, and papers with a red "A" written at the top by the child's teacher. Looking back, I know my drawings were not gallery worthy, but they were good enough for mom's fridge.
I know that because I signed up for a class in commercial art as a senior in high school. Campaign slogans, advertising ideas, and jingles were right up my street. Unfortunately, artistic ability was also a requirement, and the teacher remediated me to a beginner's art class that was full of freshmen.
By that time in my life, our fridge was void of my artwork, but displayed a lot of quips and quotes that my mom found during her daily devotions and Bible reading. "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." "All the things I see teach me to trust the Lord for the things I cannot see." "The Bible: read it through, pray it in, live it out."
As the years go by, pictures of our children become pictures of our grandchildren. The artwork returns, and the story begins all over again. With hearts melted by love and joy, we cannot help but smile when we glance at those photos while opening the refrigerator door. And because our grands are a few hours away, the fridge keeps them close to our hearts until our longing to see them is again fulfilled.
I have to admit that among the photos and drawings and keep-the-date wedding postcards, there are a few collectible magnets, including a couple that bear the phone numbers of our favorite pizza places. There is also a developing grocery list, and a small marker board for messages and reminders.
If I could see your fridge for a few minutes, I would understand at least a little of what or who it is that brings joy to your life. I might come to know something of what you value, and something of the things you believe. And it seems so personal that if I saw your fridge, I would have been gifted with the privilege of a small glimpse into your personal life.
Yes, the fridge tells a story. Would you believe that sometimes I go get a snack from the fridge just for an excuse to see our current display? You're right, I guess that is stretching it a bit too far; but it eases that guilty feeling of consuming unnecessary calories, and it sounds much more grandfatherly, wouldn't you say?
Steven Callis is the minister at First Church of the Nazarene in Douglasville.