I’ve never been a big “shopper”…if by shopper you’re picturing a classy, well-manicured Breakfast at Tiffany’s 30-something clicking through the mall with a bouquet of bags bursting from the nook in her elbow.
I prefer flip-flops and I’m not all that classy.
Despite my efforts to be cute and semi-fashion-informed, the truth is that I’m just average. I’ve been in jeans for the better part of my life, and until the loving intervention of my friend a few years ago, those jeans were famously paired with turtlenecks on a daily basis. What can I say? I like to be warm and I like to be comfortable.
What I’ve been learning, however, is that shopping doesn’t have to happen at Banana Republic or Kohl’s for it to start cutting into your budget. Your handbag obsession is my Costco bill–and my Target splurge is your pair of designer jeans. It’s all the same to the bank.
I remember a couple of months ago my parents stopped over and I excitedly said to them, “Guess what I got today?!” My mom said something like, “I don’t know Jane, you’re always getting something.” Now, this comment was flippant and lighthearted, [don’t worry mom–you didn’t hurt my feelings]—- but it DID make me think. Am I really turning into that girl? That “shopper”?
How many times have I gone to the store for deodorant and toothpaste and left spending $100? And don’t even get me started on Costco! You can safely bet that each item you deposit in your cart is going to cost you $10. Their food testers lure and their kids’ clothes are cheap and their books such a bargain! It’s a regular merry-go-round of delight and I sign up for a ride way too often.
Generally these “extras” are justified by pointing out that they’re not for me, they’re for our kids. For instance, I found a couple of $5 videos which I reasoned would be perfect for our upcoming vacation. Since we’re driving, we’d better have entertainment after all! Then I stumbled upon some squirt guns and water balloons. What a fun mom I am, I told myself. Of course all the Easter goodies are out, so I had to scoop up a few of those items–for the kids, you know. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
So where does it end?
For me, it’s ending this Lent. I’ve given up the holy trinity of shopping: Target, Costco, AND the mall. Now, I wouldn’t stand in the way of my husband popping in for a mega-box of granola bars at the Warehouse, but I’m not going to go in. It’s too easy for me to see the variety of sparkly, fun things and try to justify why we need them.
Like I did with our snorkeling equipment. [see? fun mom in Florida, right?]
The truth of the matter is that even though we can pay our bills and God has blessed us with some rainy day money, there’s no need for me to aimlessly wander the aisles grabbing things at whim. There’s no need to store up treasures here when so many people are scraping along with less than basic essentials. And what does it teach my children about instant gratification or patience if I’m piling up purchases myself?
So this Lent is bigger than shopping. It’s really all about contentment. It’s about praying the words of Paul and really striving to walk in the direction of the peace he talks about:
“If we have food and covering, with these we will be content.”
I Tim 6:8
What are you working on this Lenten Season? Have you felt convicted to make some changes in your life?