mcj-oped-jim-rutledge Bro. Jim Rutledge

Mr. Webster tells us a keeper is someone or some thing suitable for keeping. Allow me to recall from the theater of my mind some things we keep.

While fishing, we keep the large one and throw the little one back. While grocery shopping, we usually choose the larger items and not the smaller. We tend to choose the colorful brighter color and not the olive green. We’re all choosers – whether we admit it or not. Our lifestyles dictate choices in life, and things we acquire sometimes determine if they are keepers.

Yard sales are good indicators of who’s a keeper or a non-keeper. Old schoolers like myself tend to keep the lifestyle simple, durable, thrifty and conservative while the current generation likes change.

Some things we keep – like a best friend who moved away or a classmate we grew up with and friends – true friends and not just fair weather friends, but the ones with us when the going gets tough. Those are the ones who tell you your faults to your face and your virtues to your back. There are just some things that make us happy no matter what.

Marriage vows should be keepers, however. We all mean to honor those sacred vows and yet those vows are discarded for various reasons. We accept into our families those new mates and new children from previous marriages. We grow to love them without hesitation because they are keepers. Our older generation lives to celebrate upwards of 75 years of married life. Why? Because they are keepers.

One day someone’s wife died and on that clear cold January morning in the warmth of their bedroom, the husband was struck with the pain of learning that something there isn’t anymore. No more hugs, no more special moments to celebrate together, no more chats around the dinner table, no more “Goodnight and I love you,” no more “Wheel of Fortune” to watch together, no more nightly prayers before bedtime, no more “Just one minute.”

Sometimes what we care about the most gets all used up and goes away...never to return before we can say goodbye and say, “I love you.”

So while we have’s best we love it...and care for it...fix it when it’s broken...and heal it when it’s sick. To say “I’m sorry” when I’ve wronged be a bridge over troubled water for the weaker person, to be an oasis in the desert for that thirsty soul. To be a good listener when a mate needs to talk. This is true for marriage...and old cars...and children with bad report cards..and old dogs with bad hips...aging parents and grandparents.

We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it; they are keepers. The late Porter Wagoner had a country song that goes something like this. “Once I was wealthy in fortune and fame, Everything I needed to get a start in life’s game, Then suddenly it happened, I lost every dime, but I’m richer by far with a satisfied mind. Money can’t buy back your youth when you’re old, a friend when you’re lonely or a love that’s gone cold. But there’s one thing for certain when it comes my time, I’ll leave this old world with a satisfied mind.”

Hebrews 13:5 tells us there are no throwbacks in God’s kingdom. Once we’ve got God’s stamp of approval, we’re content He considers us keepers...”He said He would never leave or forsake us.”

James Rutledge lives in Amory.

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