I want to write about… stuff. This feels less like a blog post and more like a confessional or an addicts anonymous meeting.
As this season of lent comes to an end and everyone else is almost done giving up stuff, here I am getting all accountable and …stuff.
I was going to write this in rural Kenya and it was going to be titled Having enough … but I didn’t. Instead I wrote it on my MacBook while sitting on my comfy couch in my warm cozy house and I was going to post it a month ago at the beginning of March... but I didn’t.
I didn’t because writing things down and mooning the internet (aka blogging) makes me accountable and being accountable is HARD. So it’s been sitting here for a month. Yup. A month. And then I decided to do this Spring Style Me Challenge that my friend Deena has been talking about (in which Alison, who has great style, recommends a bunch of clothing and then puts it together into fabulous outfits for several weeks) that sounded fun. And then, in the awesomeness (and privacy) of this challenge, I opened my rather large mouth and mentioned something about not spending money on clothes for a year. And then, everyone was all like, “WHAAAT?” which proves that I’ve discovered a group of my peers, because that’s how I felt about the idea also.
*Note: I am aware that this is a perfectly normal phenomenon for some people.
Which brings me to the problem. Sometimes I am so distracted by the time, energy, and money I am spending on stuff, that I miss out on the real and the good in my own life.
(see? It's a catchy title. Should have written this three months ago)
We recently spent two months in Kapsowar, Kenya. The nearest center was two hours away down a bumpy dirt road and if someone was headed there, lists were made and money was exchanged to get your cheese/yogurt/meat/spices/diapers/shampoo/potato chips, etc. Your wants. You could live on what was available locally, but not in a typically western way.
So when we first got to Kenya, I wanted to stockpile ALL THE THINGS. I bought chicken and chips and peanut butter, and I worried about not having enough. Stockpiling is ridiculous in a place where you might go without power (goodbye frozen food) for days at a time but it’s hard to let go of the North American obsession with having enough in the pantry and freezer to survive the zombie invasion and where having “nothing” to eat means you might have to use a different vegetable than planned or go without milk until you get to the store.
Let me tell you though, that we ALWAYS had more than enough, not just for ourselves, but for anyone else who cared to stop by. It made me wonder how much is enough. Enough to be content with. Enough to be satisfied. This idea worked its way around my greedy little heart that shouts "MORE MORE MORE!" until I came home, mind and heart full of inspiring people making a difference and relying faithfully on God's promises in every day practical ways. So I sat down and I looked at our monthly spending and realized I need to make a few changes in the way I relate to STUFF.
I don’t think finding enjoyment in things is bad. I love food, especially in a nice restaurant with a good friend. I love travelling and I spend my money on it. I enjoy wearing a nice outfit and feeling put together. I appreciate driving a reliable vehicle. I don’t think any of these things are wrong and I am not trying to inspire guilt in anybody else. We are made to find enjoyment in life.
What I am talking about is looking at my own heart and at where I invest energy, money and time and figuring out what it says about who I am. What behaviours do I want to cultivate? What behaviours do I not want my daughter picking up on? If you looked at my monthly bank statement, what would it say about me?
Regarding the last question, it says I like to eat food and I like to buy clothes. A lot. And I decided I wanted to enjoy those (and other things) MORE by spending LESS. And that is how I ended up deciding to not buy myself any clothes for a year.
I'll be blogging (under the tab Less is More) about how it's going, the things I am choosing to replace these behaviours, and how I am working to change my underlying attitudes. Maybe you've dealt with something similar in your own life. I'd love to hear from you with advice or ideas!