Scratching the Itch

Too often, I scratch the itch without examining what’s causing the tickle. My itch is the purchase; something new at a low price. Right now we have a new (to us) home, so we are on a fairly tight budget. I have a few gift cards in my wallet and when the tickle reaches its height, I can make a purchase without money actually coming out of our bank account. In other words, I can buy without getting caught. Ugh, even the sound of it is sickening. But I love the bargain and the new thing. Yet, as much as I love it, I have never really counted the cost. I have never looked at its consequences on the planet and on my soul –what causes the itch? There is a part of me that doesn’t even want to look into this. And yet I know it is a combination of things. First, I am an average Amercian. I think I am thrifty and frugal, but that is only true in my visual sphere. Compared to any third worlder, I’d be a terrible steward of my resources. Secondly, I think I am exempt because I have an eye for a bargain. And once the bargain is eyed, it would be criminal to let the deal go. And, lastly, shopping is one of the best distractions from doing what I’m supposed to do, from getting my work done. Shopping makes me excited and I feel like I’ve conquered (although I’m not sure what or whom) when I come home with the kill. But does it really satisfy? Or have I just wasted hours I can never have back on stuff that won’t make me happy.

And I could probably ignore this conviction if it weren’t for my adorable 6 month old son who looks up at me from his snap n go as I push him through clothing and home goods aisles. He doesn’t speak yet, but his face seems to ask, “Whatcha lookin for, Mommy?” And I am looking. One of the greatest gifts of my life is right in front of me and I’m desperately hunting for a bargain to satisfy my soul.

I want to ignore this –or laugh it off –and be on to my next bargain, but I did something terrible. Horrible. I lied to my husband –yes, omission is lying –about 30 bucks I spent at an outlet mall. On crap. That I don’t need. But which did make me feel good, at least for the afternoon.

I didn’t want to sit down at the dining room table and review our expenses over the last six months, probably because I want to believe I am frugal. But as my eyes focused in on our expenditures, the truth was too ugly to ignore.

It all looks so innocent –a latte here, fast food there, a shirt for $9.99 at Anthropologie that I could not leave on the rack for someone else –but it adds up. I watched my patient husband’s face as he went through and itemized how much I’d spent at certain stores. I could have vomited. I’d never thought of how this affected him or our family. I just saw it as saving us money in the long run. Spencer says you never save money if you spend. He asked me not to spend any money in September. On the bright side, it is already September 4th, but I know this goes deeper than me keeping my debit card in my wallet for a month. Because what happens after the fast ends. Will I binge?

I marched to my wallet and pulled out every gift card I have –my little rectangular excuses for dropping into Target or Buffalo Exchange –and handed them over. No more excuses and no more cheating. Or lying.

No one is taking care of our money and Spencer has been asking me to be our financial manager for years. I don’t even pay the bills. In fact, I don’t even look at the bills. Or my bank account. I am so confident in my frugality, that I assume the money is there. But we have a son now, and I’d like to add another kid or two to the mix, so it has to stop. What happens when I don’t shop, purchase or even browse?

Is there life after shopping? Ugh, even the sound of it scares me because so much of who I am is wrapped up in the steal, the 75{69cdb236979761836b643e1b0f0857ba9ff75f480871fb5c30c4103aecfdbb6a} off on a Thursday before the weekend rush tramples through. Who am I with no logo? I guess we will find out.

Unplugging the Lie

I’m over it. I’m just done! I’m tired of spending money and spinning my wheels on things that do not satisfy. Oh, don’t get me wrong, the world tells me they satisfy and too often I believe the lie. But I have a child now, and the stakes are too high. There are eternal consequences for the actions I take today. Sure, what’s a quick run through TJ Maxx to check out the sale rack? But what is my child seeing? And the thrill on my face when I find something designer that I could normally not afford –does that excitement match my love for Christ? And is it a lie to advertise brands that are far outside of my budget? If my treasure is where my heart is, I’ve got some shallow treasures. These are the things that taunt me when I return to God’s Word in the quiet of morning.

Job 29:14 “I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban.”

Galatians 5:16 “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”

What my children see will affect who they become. And so, I unplug. I unplug from the mall. I unplug from shopping for sport. I unplug from looking around and rationalizing behavior because other Christian families are doing it. No more. No more Proverbs 31 manipulation to affirm my bargain hunting. From now on my standard is God’s Word. My fashion sense, my homemaking and my interests will be dictated by His desires for my heart and life. Goodbye, Neiman Marcus Last Call and Pinterest (you’ve been tempting me to set up an account, but I’m shutting it down right here), I have a new instruction manual and Guide. Thank you, God, that in this ever-fickle world, your Word doesn’t change.