Let me tell ya somethin’ . . . I am a hoarder who likes to purge. HA! — is that even a real thing?!? I like to think so, because like most things in my life, I live in extremes. I am not sure when it started but remember as a little girl loving “stuff,” lots of it. And by “stuff” I mean anything from multiple pairs of shoes to thirty hotel pens – seriously, who really needs that many pens?!? Hey, there were FREE, and obviously if something is “free,” you MUST take it. Honestly though, I believe I can pin point when I started this obsession of wanting a lot of stuff. It began in the 1st grade with a girl named Danielle R. — isn’t it amazing that among my earliest memories, I still remember this after over twenty-five years?!? Anyways, Danielle had these brown, slip-on shoes, which I coveted, and there was something about her that I just wanted to be like. She had pretty, curly, blonde hair, the best clothes, and everyone wanted to be her friend, while I was the loud, redhead whose mom shopped for shoes in a store that had cockroaches in their shoeboxes! (I will save that story for another time; just know it is true.) Well, I came home and begged my mom for shoes like Danielle’s, shoes that probably cost more than my family’s entire clothing budget for the month. My mom tried; she bought me a pair that looked similar, but they weren’t the shoes, so I never wore them, and, well, I remember thinking, “When I grow up, I am going to have the shoes, the clothes, the house, the ________,” because I thought that having all of these things would make me feel like I belonged.
Fast forward . . . you who know me now are probably chuckling a little bit at the fact I am writing about spending and buying because friends and family frequently call my husband and me “cheap,” which is hurtful by the way. I prefer to think of ourselves as “frugal,” not cheap — GET IT RIGHT, PEOPLE! One of the first things out of my mouth after receiving a compliment about something recently purchased is, “I only paid $10 for this, although it was originally $150!!!” My husband has informed me many times that there is no need to tell others the price I paid for something, but I just love telling what a great “deal” I got! So, what’s the problem? Truth be told, no matter how great the deal, I usually did not really need the item. Oh, and while I’m confessing, I likely bought that item in multiple colors, only compounding the problem! That said, I find myself in a constant state of WHAT IFs – WHAT IF I might need ________ in the future? WHAT IF it reverts back to pre-sale price? WHAT IF I don’t have just the right item when someone comes over (again, projected “needs”)? So, although I do not carry credit card debt, or by many people’s standards, I do not spend huge sums, I stand guilty of wasting money. Moreover, I am slave to possessions, because somewhere along the way I bought into the LIE that if I had more things, I would feel more complete — prettier, skinner – you know, more like I belonged in the “in” crowd.
The irony in all of this is that routinely I convince myself to purchase “great deals,” only to donate them to Goodwill a few months down the road or, heck, even sooner, — I KNOW! – strange
behavior!?! Having kids has made me this way; I cannot stand to see things lying around, like my daughters’ markers, puzzle pieces, or bows, which have made me go insane at times. Yet, I feel compelled to buy more such “stuff” when it goes on sale — why is that? I can only answer that I must still believe Satan’s lies — that I am in competition with those around me, allowing insecure feelings as a little girl to continue to rule my actions as a grown woman. Actually, this is a heart issue, because I am focusing on earthly goods instead of my Heavenly Father, and obviously, I am not the only person, for the Bible is very clear about this topic: Matthew 6:19-21 says, 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I tell myself, actually lie to myself, that I do not really have a problem with materialism because . . . my husband and I give to many charitable organizations, we don’t sacrifice anything for these purchases, we help those around us in need, and compared to others in our social group, we do not have that much “stuff.” Nonetheless, I continue to buy dresses for my girls now to wear later, like when they turn sixteen, because some deals are just too good to pass up (a practice you’d think that I would quickly abandon after every laundry day, when I swear that I will never buy dresses again, especially ones that must be IRONED!!).
I have shared before that I am a planner. I worry that if I do not plan, do not prepare or do not constantly think about the future, my world will fall apart. I know the rote Sunday school response, “God is control,” but I don’t always genuinely believe it or act like I do. I confided in a friend not too long ago that at times I feel that God has too many other people to worry about, that I need to help Him with the plans for my life – HA! — as soon as those words left my mouth, I knew that was a ridiculous notion! In truth, my repeated need to prepare, to store up treasures on earth, comes from my need to feel I am in control. Now, please don’t conclude that I believe we should sell our belongings and live off of bread and water – Uh, NO! — believe me, I definitely did not get the spiritual gift of poverty. However, I do think we need to examine our hearts deeply to look for the real reason behind excessive spending to acquire excessive things. I recently opened my “junk drawer” — I know, I am the only person who has one of these (YEAH, RIGHT!) — and noticed that I had over ten black pens. Let me tell ya somethin’ . . . I literally sat there for over an hour looking at those pens, asking myself, “Why would I buy that many pens?” Of course, I will eventually use them, especially during a big party when people need something to write with, right? Okay, yes, that’s a bit far-fetched, but that is how I think. Then the Holy Spirit began to convict me to the point that I almost felt like I actually heard Him say to me, “For I know the plan I Have for you, LAURA, plans to prosper and not to harm, plans to give you hope and future, let this go, let me take this weight from you.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
In closing, I wish I could tell you that I have not started to think about my Christmas list or that I did not recently purchase two pairs of shoes that I probably do not need, (except “to be with the times,” to update my style), but I did. Why? Because I am flawed, and again, lean on everything except the everlasting arms of God to comfort me. Sometimes I so desperately wish that He would actually sit with me, hold my hand, and tell me how “fearfully and wonderfully made” I am and remind me that I don’t need all of this other “stuff” to fulfill me. But you know what — when I do things like read my Bible, listen to Christian music or a sermon or fellowship with other Believers, as a child of God, I am “in tune” with Him, no longer craving for more. I CAN feel His presence, and that satisfies. Satan is always there to tempt me, to convince me that if I just had this or that, I would feel better. IT IS A SPIRITUAL BATTLE, PEOPLE — one that I fight every day, so I am very thankful that God is on my side, fighting with and for me. So, as we enter the season of “deals and steals,” and, well, just the seasons of life in general, let us be mindful of the real motives for our purchases. If we were to look to the LORD and our brothers and sisters in Christ for peace and joy, instead of some item that will become a distant memory shortly after it’s unwrapped, wouldn’t that be something?!?