The Backstory: 19 months ago, I wrote a post for my old blog titled “I Have Enough: A Confessionary Post.” In it I shared my struggle with new & shiny stuff (and old, junky vintage stuff, for that matter) and confessed my addiction to the thrill of thrifting and online shopping. In the post, I outlined a few steps I was taking to move away from that addiction, and I stuck with them for a while, but without any concrete plan for what I wanted to do instead of shopping, and without arranging any accountability, I have slowly drifted back into my old ways. Well... enough is enough.
Today I am sharing my plan for moving forward with intention, and I am making myself accountable by stating my purposes in public. It is a family project because while I am the one with a shopping problem, all three of us can grow in the areas of spending, saving, and giving generously, and because we are all in this life together.
I will share more this week on what "deliberate spending, intentional saving, and generous giving" looks like for our family, but for today here are nine reasons we are undertaking this project at all.
1. To combat a sense of entitlement. Entitlement is defined as the fact of having a right to do something. Entitlement is ugly and loud and, unlike love, it insists on having its own way. A sense of entitlement flies in the face of humility, plucks out seeds of generosity, and mocks Christ's call: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it."
I see entitlement in all of us, but it shows up most flagrantly in my son. Sometimes we jokingly say "he wants it, he gets it!" But it's not really a joke, and it really isn't funny. It's a simple fact of economics that the resources of a family with one child aren't spread as thinly as those with multiple children. We are able to spend more time with him and more money on him than we would if we had more children-- it's not good or bad, it's just true. We seek God's guidance on how to do this wisely though, and ask him to continue to open all of our eyes to the real world of need around us, and to the richness of experience over acquisition.
2. To trust that God is our daily bread, that he truly knows what we need, and that he will provide. We pray the Lord's Prayer every day-- do we believe it? Do we believe our "daily bread" goes beyond food? Do we look only to Christ to fulfill all of our needs in and of himself?
3. To cultivate contentment and p a t i e n c e, to deny impulsive desires for the sake of growth and maturity. Instant downloads, two-day shipping, and drive-thru sugar coffee, I'm looking straight at you.
4. To learn the discipline of saving and delayed gratification. Without intention and big goals and dreams, tiny leaks form in our money bucket and our accumulated savings waste away in a drip here and a splash there.
5. To learn to manage with less, as many of our brothers and sisters must do without choice. When I read letters from my Compassion kids and hear what they were able to purchase with a small gift I've sent (shoes, school supplies, food, a bed, running water in their home), and I think that without my gift they would have simply done without those things, I am forced to look hard at my own spending and figure out what luxuries or perceived needs I could manage without so that real people with lives and thoughts and hearts and hopes (not just vague, anonymous "others") can have necessities.
6. To let go of excess stuff and find freedom in the space for what's most important. We have a smaller house than the average American, and I really have to stay on top of stuff or it starts to feel crazy cluttery in here. Enough stuff insulates and protects us from the darkness of raw poverty and real lack, but too much stuff acts like extra layers of fat on our bodies and starts to weigh us down and burden our heart after a while (not to mention it makes us forget our utter dependence on God for all things). Stuff takes up mind space, floor space, time and energy-- all resources better used in other ways, for things like prayer, dancing, and hospitality.
7. To elevate the pleasure we take in the things that can't be bought and to value experiences over things. Viewing a sunset through the trees, taking a walk, laughter and affection, going to bed early, listening to the owl's call-- all free. And memories are a lot easier to care for and carry around than stuff.
8. To acknowledge that it is *all* God’s money. It's not 10% for God, 90% for ME. Money a tool to use for our needs, but it's for the needs of others too. Money is for loving, from our hearts.
9. To nurture creativity and resourcefulness and problem solving. Any ol' fool can solve a problem by spending their way out of it. Our minds and hearts are made for a lot more than consuming.
Over the course of this year, I hope to blog consistently with updates and thoughts in relation to our family project. Feel free to tweak and copy-cat us for your own purposes, if you've been feeling some of the same things, and please know that you aren't alone.
Coming up Wednesday, some details-- What does a "deliberate spending" plan actually look like for us? What am I gonna do with my Christmas and birthday money? And what will I not be spending on in 2015?
Inspiration for this project comes from:
Ruth Soukup's honest telling of her story at Living Well, Spending Less
Anna's year-long challenge at And Then We Saved
Pen Wilcock's book on gospel simplicity, In Celebration of Simplicity
Most of all, I am inspired by the beautiful and grateful hearts of our Compassion kids: Julius, Esther, Jael, and Maurreen.