We’ve heard the jokes about the Black Friday irony. Contrasting one of the most materialistic days of the year against the day before – the one designated as a national holiday to give thanks for what God has provided. I agree, it is a little crazy.
I am a total fan of finding a good bargain but I have no interest in braving the wild realm of retail on this chaotic day. It is kind of funny that I am finishing up a 4-month personal challenge that has to do with consumerism this very weekend.
This blog post is a follow up on a post I wrote recently on defining enough. I wrote about an audio book I had been listening to and how it inspired me to start a challenge. I realized that I had more than enough clothes in my closet and that I still had a tendency to purchase more clothes almost every time I went out shopping. Something needed to change.
So, since August until now, four whole months, I have not purchased one clothing item for myself. (other than a couple things that my grandmother and mother insisted on buying me for my new job(s)… but that doesn’t count!) It might not sound like much but I think it has been quite a feat. I survived the tempting store ads for comfy and cute fall season clothing as we transitioned from warm weather to the wintery chill. I resisted the beckoning call of the shoe store to buy one more pair of those adorable and cozy boots that would keep me warm and look great with that one outfit I have… Not only have I given away bags of clothing that I no longer wear but I am learning to reinvent outfits with what I already own. (Well, I’ve kind of always done that)
I still have a closet full of stuff. And I still have a tendency to accumulate more than what is necessary. I am not a minimalist by any stretch of the word. But I am making progress. I made the realization and I started somewhere. Traveling to and living in Central America and being faced with such desperation every day has completely wrecked my traditional consumerist worldview.
I still live between the two worlds of abundance and barely enough. I am constantly caught within the tension of Kim K’s 300 pairs of designer shoes and the child in Honduras who walks to school barefoot. I live with the realization that the money spent on diet plans in the U.S. alone could feed the starving children around the globe.
I’m sorry… WHAT !!?? How ironic. (Of course with an obesity epidemic it would be foolish to say that if only every American stopped dieting that we would magically solve world hunger. I do realize that dieting can be necessary.) But it does put some perspective on where our priorities are. Each individual has to evaluate this for themselves. Each family has to decide if their budget allows them to help someone out who is in need or pour into a local or international ministry providing for the vulnerable. If we are living above our means, chances are we spend our time and effort scrambling around trying to pay for more and more stuff without considering the needs of others.
Here’s another great one:
This isn’t saying that just by participating in Black Friday you have your priorities turned around… but let’s be real… I think a lot of people do.
I still struggle with keeping my priorities in line and not just with finances. One other thing I have personally taken a stand on is not using a smartphone. That isn’t to say that I will never own one. I just know that I can’t afford it now nor do I need it. Would it make my life more convenient? Of course. To put things in perspective I have made a list of things that I am able to spend money on each month instead of paying for a data plan:
- new art supplies
- a mani/pedi
- seeing Disney on Ice with my little sister
- donating money toward a friend’s adoption
- a couple new books
- putting money aside for my next trip to Honduras
- gas for a road trip to see a friend
- Christmas gifts
- groceries for a family in need
- a new purse
- money toward new camera equipment
Because of my current limited income, the demand of school debt, and the fact that I am raising funds to return to Honduras, it is reasonable that I would not sign up to pay monthly for internet on my phone. I would be living above my means. I am not stressed out because of this nor do I feel left out due to the fact that I can’t receive emails while driving down the highway. It is a fact of life.
The best way to kill your greed is to be face to face with someone else’s need.
I love the way Richard Stearns has re-written the famous passage of Jesus from Matthew 25:
I don’t know about you but that stings. Together let’s redefine enough in our own lives.