Whew! This marathon of posting has been intense. The nature of the subject, mixed with my own trepidations has made this an emotional kind of week.
My fear in relating some of this was that I would come across as sanctimonious, and as having figured it all out. This post is mine in which to ‘fess up.
I referenced in earlier posts my bad consumer habits and how it affected my lifestyle. Backing up a little will give it some context.
A couple of years ago, I got into couponing. Not the crazy kind, where I amassed hundreds of bottles of bleach, and ketchup, because who needs that much anyway? I provided for my household, for friends, and then donated lots of products to our soup kitchen and pregnancy center. It was fun; it was addictive. Getting stuff for free or for mere pennies gave me a sort of satisfaction. It still hurts to pay for toothpaste, when I’ve gotten it for free in the past years.
More recently, I also tried out my hand in online selling. I developed an amazon selling account, and would purchase products at stores, and then ship them to amazon where they would be sold at a higher price, thus making me money. The amount of time it required, plus the lack of physical space to store the products forced me to give it up. While it didn’t work out, I don’t consider it a loss, because I learned a new skill.
These two ventures took me into the active consumer marketplace and interestingly enough, took me out of it. Both ventures left me with accumulation, with the thrill of a bargain, and with disgust at what Americans spend their money on. Those cheap trinkets and gadgets that I bought at stores? They sold on Amazon! But in the meantime, they sat in my room and looked at me and I grew to disgust them. I didn’t want a life surrounded by cheaply made gadgets that would probably break in weeks.
This all influenced my love for shopping. That unknown next bargain, more free toothpaste, the thrill of the hunt, making a bit of money- it all took me to unhealthy places. It’s taking time to walk away from it, discipline to not stop at the good looking yard sale, and saying no to bargains that I don’t need. But it has brought a measure of freedom and contentment that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
The other and more significant part that changed the way I view things is the hefty dose of conviction that God administered when I was working on my last mission statement. I highly recommend that every lady has one, and I may do a post about what they do and how I write mine. Basically, I take an afternoon and go sit out in God’s green world, and think about my life and what it is that I want to do with it. I was attempting this a couple of months ago, in thinking about my new home, and God met me, and kinda cleaned house a bit with me. I came away shaken.
Here’s the deal. I am a Christ follower by claim and so I spent some time thinking about His life. And then I wondered:
How should the homelessness of Jesus affect how I see my earthly house and its care?
The singleness of Jesus- does it affect how I see marriage and family?
The people with whom Jesus associated and spent most of His time? Do my associates look like His?
The way He chose to rest and get away? Does my downtime look like His?
His life calling, and last instructions to carry it on- does mine reflect that?
See, I kinda wanted a Pinterest home that would look good on Instagram. I wanted marriage for selfish reasons. Friendships were easiest and most convenient with people who were similar to me. I chose shopping or some other easy, fun activity when I wanted to get away.
I was a Christian, but apart from my spoken beliefs, there wasn’t a lot of interaction with Jesus’ lifestyle. It felt like a kind of spiritual and intellectual lie I was living.
Popular Christian thought says that the impacts of Jesus’ life and teaching are like a glaze. They drip down into the expected areas of spoken belief and Sunday activities, but flavor little else. The nature of Jesus’ teachings and His impacts should work more like marinade- infusing the whole and leaving nothing untouched or non-impacted.
We know this in our heads, but struggle to connect it to daily life.
It is and will be a long journey. We didn’t choose to be born in a first world country and struggle with excess. And I still don’t understand it all. The answer to this is not minimalism (as the trend), or asceticism. Buying ugly curtains because they are ugly isn’t somehow going to impress God. Neither is self-loathing as opposed to self-exalting on social media. I don’t think its the right balance of God versus things, and as long as the God side is higher, than its okay. Unpacking pleasure and its purpose in Christians’ lives might need to be my next research project 🙂
There is no formula to wholeness and healthy choices. God’s neighborhood doesn’t really have a lot of formulas. But it has life, and freedom.
I’ve been praying that these posts won’t send people on one-way guilt trips into Shame but into Freedom. If this has resonated with you, and if you have felt the same kind of convictions, I’d encourage you to sit in the conviction and allow it to change you. God needs us women, and His economy requires time and money. I’m praying that we women will rise up and embrace these challenges, and together embrace a Jesus-centered lifestyle- where His desires and words infuse every bit of our lives, in both the good and the hard spaces.
Bless you for following along with me!