The box sat forgotten in the back of the closet. Hidden by rows upon rows of shoes and accessories, the box slowly deteriorated as the dust and humidity gradually wore down what was left of the exterior. It had once been beautiful on the outside. Covered with hand painted roses, lined with pearls and lace, with a healthy bouquet of silk roses over every inch of the cover, the box had been displayed in the living room of the woman who had first purchased the box.
The inside was empty, though the gorgeous hat it had once held had been the talk of the town. Every woman had desired to own a hat like that, to be like the lady who wore the hat with such grace, though she had no idea she was the envy of all around her. She was a simple woman, kind and gentle, who, even though she enjoyed looking nice, she focused on others around her more than she did herself.
The woman wore the hat until her dying day, only handing it down to her daughter as she breathed her final words. “Take my hat and wear it proudly, my dear,” she had told her daughter. “It was my life and I want you to hold onto it forever.”
The daughter had agreed, though inside she was unsure of how to answer. She had always felt a little embarrassed by her mother’s open display of the hat that seemed a bit too much to her. True, the hat had been helpful when she had become lost in a crowd and could not find her way out. All she had to do was look for the hat and she had found her mother rather quickly. She had always gone along with her mother as she had helped others. Her mother always did have a servant’s heart. Though she assured her dying mother she would do her best to keep it, she did not want to continue such a lifestyle if it meant having to keep the hat forever.
After the funeral, the daughter set the hat box in her living room, though she could not bear looking at the hat so she made sure the box was closed so none could see what was inside. Wearing hats had become out of style and she had no desire to have it become a topic of conversation in her home if she could help it. She did her duty of displaying it for as long as she felt necessary, and then set the box away in the basement.
A few years passed and the family decided to move. As the daughter was packing, she found the old hatbox and opened it up. The hat had become moldy from sitting in the basement for so many years and started to fall apart when she touched it. With a grim expression, she tossed the hat into the garbage can. For one brief moment she hesitated before putting the lid back on. What would her mother say if she knew her daughter was throwing her heart’s love away? The daughter shook her head. If her mother only could see what a mess the hat was in, she would do the same thing, she was sure of it.
Later on, the daughter of the daughter came down and saw the old hat box and asked her mother what it was. With little explanation the mother told her young daughter it had once been her grandmother’s.
“May I keep the box, mom?” the little girl had asked.
The mother had nodded and the little girl had happily skipped away, excited to have a keepsake box to put her own special treasures in.
The years wore on and eventually the box was forgotten again as it waited in the back of the teenage daughter’s closet. It sat empty, void of any treasures or keepsakes. Having grown too old for such babyish items, the girl had tossed all the things she had once held dear and now her time was occupied with shopping, makeup, and boys.
The girl decided she needed to move out. It was time to make it on her own. With two or three other girl friends they should be able to make enough to pay the rent for an apartment. She began cleaning out her closet and discovered the hatbox. With a disgusted look at the ragged box, she tossed it in the trash pile and went on her way.
That evening, the mother sat outside on the porch with tears in her eyes. Her daughter had left and she felt alone. There had been no need for her to leave, except for the idea of independence and thrill of trying to make it on her own. With a sob, the mother put her head down and prayed. “Dear God, where did I go wrong? I tried to raise her like my mother did, but this world is so harsh and tempting! What did I miss?”
She looked up and something by the trash can at the end of the driveway caught her eye. She stood up and slowly walked to the end to see what the round box was. When she realized what it was, she gave a gasp. It was her mother’s old hatbox cast aside like a piece of trash. She knelt down and tenderly picked up the box, weeping as she held it close. The mother wondered if the faded box could ever be repaired. She had to give it a try.
Later that week, she received a call from the seamstress who had been working on the box for many days. “It is ready,” she was informed. “You may come pick it up at any time.”
With a racing heart, the woman walked into the front room of the shop and waited for the seamstress to bring out her box. The lady set the box on the counter and smiled. “It took a lot of hard work, but I was able to mend everything except for the painted roses. I am not an artist when it comes to painting, but the lace and pearls I could fix, as well as put a new bouquet on
the top. What do you think?”
The mother was speechless. It was so beautiful, even with the flowers still faded in the background. She paid the money she owed and took the box home where she could proudly display it in her living room. Yet, as she looked at it, something still seemed missing. It looked okay on the outside, but something was missing on the inside. She realized she needed a new hat! It would not be the same as her mother’s, but a brand new one that would resemble the heart of the mother.
For days the mother went searching for just the right hat. Nobody seemed to carry them anymore, or even cared about her concern to find one. Some even laughed at her saying she would never find one because they were 'old fashioned', but she did not give up. Finally, she found one small corner shop that had some in stock. The clerk was very happy to sell her one of his hats and wrapped it up very carefully for her to take home. When the hat was in the box, it all seemed complete once again, and the mother felt satisfied, though she felt sad to realize that the reason her daughter had not cared, was because she had not cared to pass on the heritage that the box had held. She had not cared enough about what the inside of the box had held to share it with her own daughter. The outside shell had been okay to show, but without anything inside, the box meant nothing to her daughter. She had her work cut out for her and prayed that one day her own daughter would realize the importance of what was inside the box, just as her eyes had been opened to the truth.
Remember: it is not what we do and express on the outside – going through the motions of loving Jesus, but it is having the heart of Jesus inside. When He lives inside us, we change on the outside because He molds us to be like Him. Now go, and make sure you pass on what is important on the inside. Having your own personal relationship with the Lord is the best thing you can do for your children.