So yesterday I bought these brown "riding" boots that I've wanted for a while from Target. I was really excited to finally get them, and I had a gift card, so I didn't feel like I was really spending money...til I was walking out of Target. See, I need to really start saving my money because next semester I'm student teaching, so I won't get to work nearly as much, if at all. I'm pretty much counting on trying to sell my artwork and kinda live off of that money, at least for frivolous things. My parents will give me money for gas and food, but I just feel weird letting them pay for my stuff after working and paying for all of my gas, food, and clothes since college started.
So I had the boots, and while I was driving home from Target, I thought of all the other things I could've gotten with my gift card that could've benefitted someone other than myself. The truth is, boots are the VERY LAST thing I need. To be totally honest, I have an entire linen closet full of shoes on every shelf, and I have so many boots it's not even funny. But I justified this purchase by saying "well almost all of my boots are cowboy boots, so I need some riding boots because those are different." Cowboy boots. They are not cheap. And I have over five "real" pairs. I'm not sharing this information to brag. I'm opening myself up to admit a problem on my part. It almost makes me sick to think of how much money I've spent on shoes/boots/purses/clothes/etc. And how many children in High Point go to bed hungry almost every night. It's a problem!!! WHY am I living in excess with over 150 pairs of shoes while there are children who don't have shoes that even fit? Why do I buy purses "because they're just so pretty!!!"???
I can tell you why.
It's a little sin called GLUTTONY. One of the seven deadly sins. It is SINFUL to have so many shoes!!
All my life I've said, "I'm a good kid. I don't do what he/she does. I'm living right!" OK, that's good! I've never been tempted to do the stuff that a lot of adolescents fall into doing. I've had friends ask me, "why is it so easy for you to do the right thing? Aren't you ever tempted to do what we do?" And all I can say is no. "Well then what is your downfall? Do you have one? Doesn't everyone struggle with something...some sort of addiction?"
Finally I realized, after a little denial, that I battle materialism daily. It's so hard not to!! We see advertisements every day saying "You need this!" or "This will make you cooler" or "This will make you more attractive" or "These are so IN this season!" We also want to keep up with celebrities and girls in movies and on TV. And I feel like being a female in college, it's 100x harder (especially where I go to school haha). Girls always have the latest handbags, clothes, whatever. It's like a constant race or competition. We don't necessarily mean it to be that way, but it happens! It happens everywhere to girls our age. We want to fit in and have the latest. And keep up.
Now, since I was in maybe middle school, I've sort of made my own style, while incorporating the latest trends. I've never been one to say, "I don't like this, but since it's 'in,' I'm gonna wear it." No...I've actually worn some things that went totally against the norm because I've never been one to try to totally conform to any type of style. And I always say I am NOT going to carry a handbag that costs enough to feed a third world country (or a few hungry families in High Point). But sometimes the trends do get the best of me. I'm just as guilty as anyone else. I say I won't carry an expensive handbag, then turn around and buy boots that could be hocked to have money to buy groceries for a needy family. And I justify it by saying "well they're REAL boots, so I can wear them for years and years and they won't wear out" or "No one else has these, so I'll be trend-setting." Okay, that's fine, but EXCESS is NOT!
Constant "competition" among girls as far as style and material things leads to something even worse: ENVY. Envy is the green-eyed monster that stems from materialism and trying to keep up. Someone is always going to have more than you. I'm not a rich person by any means, and no matter how much money you have, it seems like someone always has more. The battle to "keep up" is never won. I can't let myself get caught up in that stuff. Envy is a very very dangerous emotion that leads to even bigger problems. And just think, all of this stems from wanting more possessions.
I go shopping a lot. It releases chemicals in our brains that make us feel good (don't quote me on that). That's why they call it retail therapy! It really can make you feel better. But how long does that feeling last before you want something else? It's just like any other addiction. I'm so guilty of it, it's not even funny. Even though I know the only TRUE and LASTING key to happiness is JESUS, I go shopping to make myself feel better sometimes. Okay, a lot of the time. Even if I don't buy much...and even though 90% of the time, I only buy something if it's on sale...it's still a problem. Especially if I constantly feel like I need to justify it. It can make me feel good and bad at the same time, like a drug.
Okay so let me sum it all up. Don't think I'm crazy and I'm saying that shopping is JUST like doing drugs. There is NOTHING wrong with having cute clothes and nice accessories. I've strengthened a lot of friendships while shopping because it's a fun activity for girls to do together. (Safer that way, because I usually don't buy as much when I'm with friends) All I'm saying is that I recognize that it can get out of hand, and lead to materialism and envy, and I need to be wiser about it. Excess is not good. The preacher always says, "Anything that takes up more of your time and more of your thoughts than God is an idol." If you're constantly dwelling on the next item you're going to buy, it's taking the place of God. Materialism is IDOLATRY. I'm guilty of it! I need to start saving my money and stop being so selfish with it. How many kids could I feed in my city if I used my shopping money to buy them food?? Christmas is coming up...there are kids in High Point who don't get gifts at Christmas. Should I really complain that I don't have a certain type of jeans or that I drive the car I drive? Should I ask for more when they don't even have the minimum? More importantly, I should never let anything get in the way and take up time that I should be spending with God. I need to find a way to put some of my time and money to better use.
Just something to think about.