(Was anyone else’s first thought when they read my post title the song “Just Got Paid” by NSYNC? No? Just me admitting a guilty pleasure? Ok then.)
So lately, my finances has been a topic that has been on my mind a great deal. I have been praying for the right resources and tactics of fundraising for my mission trip this summer, and as a result, my mind has been turned on to some other areas of my finance that could use some work.
Now before I begin this, I would like to say that I am very grateful to be in the financial situation I am in. I have a wonderful job, am fortunate to have a great housing situation that does not cost very much, and have always been a pretty frugal person, even when I was very little. This post is really more about my entire attitude with money that can often take hold which I need to change, versus actually being in debt, and so forth.
For starters, today I read this post on Nancy Ray’s blog, which I think sums up my thoughts almost perfectly:
Just because I can financially afford to do certain things, like shop, does not necessarily mean that I need to. Yes, I donate to a few charities each month, yes, I bargain shop and rarely buy things full price, and finally yes, I always have a positive balance each month that goes into savings. But does this necessarily mean that I am a “cheerful giver”?
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:7
I am embarrassed to say that while my heart often leaps at the “70 percent off” signs in Target, I often just honestly forget to tithe, or am hesitant about adding a few extra dollars to my charitable contributions. In this culture of consumerism, we are constantly told things like “Treat yourself! You deserve it! You work hard!” and it can be easy to just buy into that because we want to be happy. The problem with this is that it typically leads to wanting more. Every time a cell phone update becomes available, you have to get it. Every time you see a style on TV that you think would look great on you, it seems like you deserve to be able to wear it. And so on, and so forth. The exhausting cycle never ends, and we are left feeling unfulfilled, yet a little uncertain as to why exactly.
Is it wrong to get one extra shirt from the store when you might not need it? Not necessarily. But what I want to focus on right now is being satisfied and content with all that God has already blessed me with, not what I could continue to gain.
I was listening to this song on repeat today in my car:
When the day is closing in
Like the stars in the night I am falling
Into the pull of the earth and it’s affection
In me, oh lord, can you create
A pure heart cause I’m afraid
That I just might run back to the things I hate
Satisfy me Lord
Satisfy me Lord
-Tenth Avenue North
So what are my resolutions here?
-I am joining Nancy’s decision here in not shopping for any clothes or accessories for the next three months, starting now. This sounds impossibly long right now, but the very fact that I am even saying that shows me that I need to step away. I firmly believe that you should be able to say no to anything without feeling resentment or compulsions, whether that is alcohol, shopping, thrill-seeking, whatever, but if you cannot say no, then you know you have a problem. There are many things that are fine in moderation, but when used too much, they have too much control over us. We should have more self-control in life so that we can be more available and perceptive to the paths God is leading us down.
-So when I say no shopping, I am having to make a very tiny exception. There is a small possibility that when the packing list for France is released, that there may be something I do not have. I am thinking this will most likely not be an issue, but in this case, I will try my best to solve the problem by going to a thrift shop.
-I can still buy gifts for other people, and am in fact encouraging myself to give my money freely, but I especially want to focus on giving in some way to the church. I have not done enough of this in the last year, and while it was not intentional, I want to be more aware of it.
Overall I am praying that this experience will help open my eyes to areas of my life that are more self-centered and focused on only pleasing myself, versus helping those around me. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with going out to eat sometimes, going to the movies, and so forth. Relaxation and decompressing are important!! But when I prioritize those things above all else, I am saying that I am only living for me. I want there to be less of me. There should be less of me when I am interacting with others, and more of God.
Most of all, I want to focus on the fact that I am grateful. I am content, I am satisfied with my portion. I am blessed.