Two thousand years ago three wise men purchased gold, frankincense and myrrh in order to honor our newborn king. Years later Mary spent a year’s wages on a jar of perfume that she used to wash Jesus’ feet. So let our redeemed and renewed shopping begin, but shopping that promotes shalom in our relationships to God, others and the creation. Todd Steen [“Born to Shop?” in Comment Magazine, Sept. 25, 2009]
This is one of my New Year’s resolutions, if you will. My husband in all his rational-ness, of course, thinks that New Year’s Resolutions are baloney. They are for people who aren’t disciplined enough to make practical lifestyle changes in real life, he says.
But I still like the time to reflect on a year gone by. On the ways I’ve grown and changed. The areas in which I’ve failed or compromised. And how I can bring renewed optimism and discipline into a New Year. Of course, like all things in my life, it is much, much easier to set lofty dreams and goals, to start projects and plans, and then never actually finish them.
Yet, this is one area where I know I need to make some changes if I am to become the person I want to be and a person who is living in crucified conformity to Jesus. [It’s also particularly relevant as Steve and I embark on this crazy new parenting adventure. This is something I desperately want to be living out – joy and appreciation for what we do have – so we can pass that onto baby Gosselin. I don’t want to raise a brat you know!]
I buy waaaaayyyyyy too much stuff.
And most of it is crap.
And most of it I get bored of within a week and then it sits on a shelf and I never use it again.
I’m impulsive to begin with and shopping just plays into that. [Living in Phnom Penh where everything is so inexpensive sure doesn’t help this problem. It is much easier to rationalize dumb, needless purchases when it will only cost a couple of bucks].
And that’s where my challenge lies.
Because it’s not even about money. It’s about my heart. And my continual need to have fun, new things to keep me happy. It’s also about me not appreciating the good gifts I do have.
The reason I love Todd Steen’s quote is how down-to-earth he is. [his article is very, very interesting, by the way]. Of course we’re going to have to buy stuff. There is value in a thriving economy and we are all interconnected and interdependent. But the thing I like most is that he brings it back to the most fundamental point.
Shopping has to be in submission to God. It’s also about our relationships with community and with the world.
And so this year, I want to think before I buy. I want to be less impulsive. I want to cultivate a deep appreciation for the life God has given me and the things I do have, and openly, willingly share them with others.
And I want to allow myself to need my neighbours more. There is something very vulnerable in allowing others to care for us through the sharing of resources within our communities. I want to be that kind of a person. Someone who can graciously, joyfully, receive good things from friends and neighbours without always having to run out and by my own.
And when I do have to buy something, may it promote shalom.