25 February 2011

Confessions of a Consumer

I don't like speaking in the present when confessing things, so please, understand this happened well over a week ago.  I'm a totally different person by now.  I'm sure of it.

Walking briskly through Costco on a mission.  I've got a twenty in my pocket and I'm not gonna let them get any more than that today.  Medicine for the kids' colds, paper napkins for the trip, cereal 'cause I've run out of time and energy to bake anything else before we leave.

Then out of the corner of my eye I see the crowd.  I'm diverted from my focus (this isn't anything new).  I know what they're watching.  I want one too.  I've been wanting one for quite a few years actually. 

The Vita Mix.

"Maybe I'll just stroll by and see what they look like again.  I wonder if I could just grab one today and charge it.  I can deal with the budget later.  And my husband's disapproval.  Truly, if anyone could really use one continually and for many years, it's me.  I've got lots of mouths to feed.  Three times a day.  I mean, there's machines like this sitting in kitchens barely used and then here's me, so deserving, so needing one. "

"Here I am suffering away on a focused budget and all these people can just up and buy one whenever they want.  Yes, I am truly a poor, poor person destitute and in great need.  I NEED one NOW!  I DESERVE to have one!  I've waited long enough.  The whole system's shot when a person can't get what they need."

I stand in a gray area, mesmerized by the moment and seeking clarity in my thinking.  I see walls stacked high with stuff and remember my own struggle to manage the stuff in my home.  I see fine food chopped up spinning for us Americans continuously fighting weight problems.

I turn away. Once my eyes aren't on it, it's not as alluring. Walk to the checkout stand and put down my twenty.  It's nearly all used, but my conscience is clear as I walk out.  Today the Vita Mix man lost the battle.

And me?  Well, I return home and look at my trusty Kitchen Aid blender.  I thank God for it.  For electricity.  For everything I need and much, much more. 

I'm challenged...though I don't think it's wrong to buy a Vita Mix I do desire to use the finances God entrusts us with the best way possible.  To make lasting investments.

"Sell your possessions and give to the poor.  Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Less than forty-eight hours before my Vita Mix fight I stood in the modest home of a family who follows God seriously.  We chat in the kitchen while dinner's prepared.  My husband points to a line of pictures plastered to their fridge.  "Are all these yours?"  I look.  They're World Vision sponsor children, more than half a dozen of them.

"Yes," she says.  "Each year my husband gets a cost-of-living raise.  But we don't need any more stuff.  We spend it by sponsoring another child."

That family has a purse that will never wear out.  A treasure in heaven that will never get used up, never be stolen, broken, ruined.

It's a battle.  Living in a consumer culture, struggling with a consumer heart.  I have to continually regain eternal perspective on wealth.

"True prosperity is not measured by how much anyone has.  It's measured by how much they give."

text: Luke 12.33,34.
quote: Spiritual Rhythm, M. Buchanan, p. 165.