I woke up a couple weekends ago thinking about shopping with a desire to refresh my wardrobe…a wardrobe that had been a little neglected with us being on a tight budget for several years. And let’s be real, I’ve always been pretty frugal so sometimes I realize I’m wearing stuff I’ve had for a looong time.
So anyway, Drew was a good sport and went with me to the outlets. I went “prayed up” because I often get a bit overwhelmed working through wanting to be a good steward and not being materialistic or getting caught up in consumerism while also wanting some freedom in enjoying feeling cute and being relevant.
It was somewhat easier when we were on a tighter budget than having more resources, now. Before, I had a set budget and followed pretty closely. Now, I have an abundance (compared to before) and I’m wrestling through being free in Christ and not a slave to my own man-made rules (what I tend to lean towards when wanting to know the “right” amount to spend; this can be legalistic for sure).
I often wrestle through “two sides of the ditch” between thoughts rooted in materialism versus asceticism.
Materialism: “ excessively concerned with physical comforts or the acquisition of wealth and material possessions, rather than with spiritual, intellectual, or cultural values.”
Asceticism: “the doctrine that a person can attain a high spiritual and moral state by practicing self-denial, self-mortification, and the like.”
These definitions are extreme, but I definitely see myself get stuck in some way between the two. I think it’s healthy to fight materialism and not find our identity in stuff, image, success, approval, etc. I think it’s equally important not to swing the pendulum the opposite way of thinking you can’t enjoy good things.
While shopping that day, I got stuck at times, possibly trying to have the “perfect formula” for how much to spend. I kept praying for God to give me wisdom and freedom in Him.
By the end of the weekend, I felt pretty free and good about the decisions I’d made. Ultimately, resting in God’s grace. I think seeking to be a good steward, pushing back against consumerism, and wanting to be relevant is a life-long journey of prayer and asking God to guide me. This is a much better route than creating rules for myself and thinking I’ve got it figured out.
My ultimate desire is to be lead by the Holy Spirit, to keep searching the motives of my heart, pursue freedom, and aim to glorify God in the way I live (yes, even in shopping!). By doing this, I’m finding freedom “getting out of the ditch” on either side. It’s a continual process with conviction and grace along the way.
I’m so thankful I’m no longer a slave to the law, but free in Jesus. ❤
As a bonus, here’s some practical tips I often process before shopping:
- Intent: Who am I trying to please? Is this to enjoy with pure motives or is it rooted in envy, pleasing people, pressure of what you’re “supposed to do”?
- Priorities: does this align and/or support my priories?
- Budget: does this fit within budget?
- Eternity: how much do I want to acquire on earth? How much money am I willing to spend on outward appearance? Personally I like to keep it simple, pursuing the benefits of margin.
Hope this is helpful insight into what I work through. Your priorities and convictions may be completely different. The biggest point I want to make is the importance of seeking to honor God with our resources and asking Him to guide us.
Can you relate? How do you work through wanting to honor God in the way you use your resources while wanting to be relevant and enjoy things? Comment below.