I’m not sure which one of these collections is the most insane. So many questions go through my head as I scan through these 43 weird collections. I mean, what causes a guy to start collecting traffic cones? Where has all of my uncollected belly button lint gone to? Is the toe-nail clippings guy married? Are they really all his toenails? What water fight is the guy with 240 unique super-soakers preparing for?
But I think I’ve got a collection which is just as ridiculous. Or at least I used to. Thankfully by the grace of God I’ve started giving some of my collection away—and I’ve mostly stopped trying to acquire new items.
You see, for the longest time I collected applause.
I’m sure the guy with over 11,000 do not disturb hotel signs had to do a good bit of traveling to get his collection. Maybe even going to places he didn’t want to go. I can relate. My penchant for people pleasing has often taken me places that I’d prefer not to be again. It’s caused me to say things I don’t mean. To remain silent when I should have spoken. I’d go to great pains to add to my collection. Sometimes it was to gain applause from new people. At others times it was to gain new applause from the same people.
But let’s not pretend that every pursuit of applause ended well. I’m sure there are some celebrity hair locks that John Reznikoff just cannot get his hands on. And I wonder if that one lock that he can’t get starts to consume him. Just like that one person who you cannot seem to get their applause. When it never comes you end up depressed. It becomes identity shaping. And all of the other applause becomes meaningless until you get that one…which will certainly also become meaningless once it gets into your collection.
That’s the thing. You can’t grab hold of applause because it’s really and empty thing without much substance. The Puritan, Thomas Boston, spoke of the emptiness of applause when he said:
And when the applause is obtained, what do you have? A vain empty puff of wind. They think much of you, you think much of yourself and in the meantime God thinks nothing of you.
I’m giving up on my collection. Or maybe that’s not quite true. Actually there is one applause that I’m hoping to still acquire. All the others mean nothing until this one is obtained. I’m told its already been purchased—and it’ll come by the completed work of another. But it’s applause, nonetheless, and I’m convinced it’s the only one which really matters.
If you struggle like me with giving your precious life away to this “vain empty puff of wind” I’ve found a resource which is really helpful: Pleasing People by Lou Priolo. It’s very accessible and practical. I’ve been reading through this lately and it has helped me to tangibly focus on pleasing the Lord instead of trying to gain the applause of people.