# The \$600 Table

A middle-aged woman named Pearl had owned an antique store for several years. Her showroom included a special antique table that had been there a long time. Because Pearl needed more room and wanted to move some merchandies around, she decided to sell the table at a discount. The price tag was marked \$500. She crossed out the \$500 with her marking pen and wrote, "Sale \$400."

Later that day a man came in and saw the table with the price marked down. After introducing himself as Ted, he tried to bargain with her, saying, "I'll tell you what. I'll buy that table for \$300."

Pearl responded, "\$300! Oh, no. It's worth a lot more than that. This table is worth more than \$1,000. You would be getting a truly great deal for only \$400. It's made of solid oak. They don't make tables like this anymore," she said, making a good point.

"But it's got scratches on it!" Ted replied.

Back and forth they went. He dept trying to convince her to lower the price, and she kept giving reasons why it was worth more. Finaly Ted said, "You know, I'd buy this table if you would ust change the price."

With a grin, Pearl said, "Well, OK. Talking to you has convinced my that I should change the price after all." She took her marking pen, crossed out the \$400 price, and wrote above it, \$600.

Ted was shocked. "Hold it, you can't do that," he screamed.

"What do you mean I can't do that? I own this table. I can sell it for any price I want."

"But you had it marked for \$400."

"Yes, but talking to you has helped me see the real value of this table. Our discussion has reminded me how special this table is and that it is worth much more than \$400. I realized that if I sold it for \$400, I would be cheating myself - I'd actually be getting less than I deserved. Someday someone will realize how valuable it is. If not, I'll still own a great table. So thanks for reminding me how valuabe this table is."

Ted thought for a moment and then said, "OK, you win. I can see you are quite a saleswoman. I'll tell you what. I'll buy this table for \$400."

"Oh, no, you won't," Pearl said firmly. "It's not for sale for \$400. I will take nothing less than \$600 for this table, and tat is still a great bargain on a wonderfully special table."

Once again Ted became angry. He sulked and complained as he walked around the store. But eventually he bought that antique table for \$600.

A BARGAIN TABLE GETS BARGAIN TREATMENT

The "Six Hundred Dollar Table" is one of my favorite true stories, told to my by a single woman whose name really was Pearl. It has become one of the most useful tools in counseling single adults that I have ever discovered. In vivid terms, the Six Hundred Dollar Table story illustrates just what happens in human relationships.

People quickly understand that the way the table gets treated depends on the price it is sold for - and they make the connection that the treatment they receive in relationships depends on the value they place on themselves. For instance, consider if Ted had paid only \$300. After he had owned the table two weeks, one of his children laces a glass of water on the table, leaving a ring. What's his reaction? Oh, no big deal, he thinkgs. It's not a very expensive table. It doesn't have a very good fninish anyways. But if Ted had paid \$600 for the table, he would snatch the glass immediately from the child's hand and say, "Don't put the glass on the table without using a coaster! This is a valuable table - I paid \$600 for it. Treat it well."

The same is true in relationships. The kind of treatment we receive is directly related to how cheaply we sell ourselves or what kind of treatment we hold out for. If we allow ourselves to be treated poorly, we will receie poor tratment. If we hold out for better treatment, we will eventually receive it.

Sharon (not her real name) was a lovely single woman who was tired of dating - and even wors, marrying - men that she called "losers." It became clear to me that Sharon longed to find a man who would treat her well, but she saw no connection between the way she was treated and the way she allowed herself to be treated. After listenng for a while, I leaned forward in my chair and said, "Do you mind if I share with you one of my favorite stories"

Sharon brightened up and said, "Go ahead."

So I began, "Le me tell you the story of the 'Six Hundred Dollar Table.'"

Sharon enjoyed the story and the discussion that followed. I asked her, "If the saleswoman had decided to accept the \$300 offer from the man, would she have ever receivd \$600 for the table?"

Sharon, slightly confused, thought for a moment and eventally said, "No, of course she wouldn't. Once she sold it for \$300 it would be gone; so she couldn't get more later."

As she immediately realized for herself, the same is true in any relationship between two peple. Once we sell our goods for a certain price we will never know if someone might later have offered more.

"Sharon," I cautiuosly suggested, "It's fascinating to me that we treat our physical possessions better than we treat ouselves. We will wait for the full price of what a car, a house or a condo is worth because we know how valuable that item is. But when it comes to our own self-worth, we seem to be unsure of our own value and give ourselves away at a much cheaper rate. We sell ourselves at discount prices and receive much less than we are worth."

The point is clear: Once we give ourselves away ceaply, we will not experience the treatment that is equal to what we are worth.

WHAT KIND OF TREATMENT DO YOU WANT?

My favorit part of the discussion about the \$600 table, though, occurs after the second question: "When Ted bought that antique table for \$600 and brought it home later that night, do you think he treated it like a \$300 table or a \$600 table?"

At this Sharon smiled, leaned back in her chair and said, "Oh, now I see where you are going with this story. I'll bet he treated it like a \$600 table. Right?"

Before answering I further questioned, "But how do you think he would have treated it if he had only paid \$300?"

"He would've treated it like a \$300 table," Sharon answered.

Finally we had arrived at the crucial point of the illustration. "But what's the difference?" I asked, "It's the same table; yet in one instance it's treated like it's worth only \$300, the other instance like it's worth \$600."

The answer was clear for Sharon, as it has been to thousands of singles who have heard this true story - it isn't the value the man placed on the table that mattered most. Instead, it's the worth the saleswoman put on the table and held out for that determined how the man would treat the table.

Some say, "I feel like a \$10 table. I have given myself away so ceaply and have been treated so poorly that I feel worthless." Others say, "I guess about \$300. I'm not going to end up in a thrift store, but I will never receive full price either. I wll never be treated like I would like to be." Still others smile and say, "I'm a \$600 table and I have been waiting a long time for someone to disover and treat me like that."

When I asked Sharon to put a price on her table, she laughed a sort of sad laugh and said her table was worth about 50 cents. It was a painul, poignant moment for both of us.

Then I asked: "Sharon, do you know what kind of table God thinks you are? Do you know how valuable you are in God's sight?"

Sharon thought for a minute and hesitatingly said, "Well, you're probably going to say that in God's eyes, I'm a \$600 table."

"Oh, no," I replied, "God thinks you are worth much more than that. The Bible says God so loved the world - that means you - that He gave His one and only Son. That means in God's eyes you are worth so much that He gave Jesus, His only child, for you. God loves you so muc that we can't put a monetary value on it, but in metaphorical way we can say you are not a \$600 table - you are a milion dollar table!"

By Rick Stedman

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