Monday, January 7, 2013

Officially Messed Up

WARNING: this post is not a typical Sara post.  It's not about how obsessed I am with my two yummy children.  There won't be any hilarious poop stories, well, maybe.  It's kind of wordy, completely jumbled, and perhaps a little unsettling.  Carry on if you wish, but don't say I didn't warn you.

I spent the latter part of my break completely devouring the book 7, by Jen Hatmaker.  For a long time I have lived with a tension, how much is too much?  I haven't always known what to do about it and to be honest, I disobediently ignored for fear of what "dealing" with it might look like for me and my consumer loving life.

I joke that we're poor.  I know I've said it many times in jest.  Truth is, my husband makes a decent salary and we have the luxury to allow me to stay home part time.  When I do work, I am able to do something I love, leave my kids with someone I love, and have the option to do it basically for free.  When you take out taxes and pay for childcare, we might actually come out in the red.  It's worth it to us to have something I can do outside of home which is good for this stir crazy heart and something I love, feel passionate about, can exercise my creative muscle with, and do while under the leadership of some of my favorite people here in Rochester.  They say do what you'd be willing to do for free and I get to.  Not an option for everyone who needs two incomes to pay the bills or reliable health insurance, or are on a single income where all the pressure to provide rests on the shoulder of one.  So I am blessed.  Not poor.  We live on one income by joyful choice.

Beside the fact that we choose to make the income we do, we are also not considered poor.  Never have been.  We eat delicious meals, never skimp, make it to the dentist and doctor when necessary or required, have a roof over our heads that I am forever arranging and adding to (thank you unnecessary but beautiful Home Goods and Target items) and we both were gifted a college education from our successful, present, and responsible parents.  We actually reside in the top 1% of wealth in the world.  Shh, you, dear reader, probably do too.  WE ARE NOT POOR BY ANY STANDARD.

Yet I am often left feeling deprived when I see others accumulating and experiencing more.  I get a little panicky when I think about the health care crisis and what that might mean for the financial future of our family.  Please know I am not only panicky but also ignorant.  I don't really know what the health care changes will mean for Chris' future income- while we might not be wiping our bottoms with excess Benjamins, I'm certain we'll have plenty to house our family, keep up to date clothes on our body and occasionally buy a splurge latte every once and a while.  Which is all we need in life, right?  I don't want to simplify this all down but, come on' no matter how much health care is cut and how much our doctors will get paid, in the end it will be heads and tails ahead of what most people in the world take home.  No tears for doctors here.

I can easily walk through Target and spend $80 in a flash on nothing necessary or important.   I took out a Target card because I could save 5% and thus justify the impromptu purchase of some gold boots for a certain tiny person in my house.  Gold boots, can you blame me?  She looks adorable in them.  Lakin and Ben and I will walk the aisles when we've destroyed our house and are on the verge of destroying our relationships.  Target is where we all take a deep breath, observe the beautiful store displays and perhaps walk away with a new nail polish and a fresh perspective.  My impulse buys are usually tiny.  Anything more than $25 typically warrants an amen from the husband and he has much less of a need for unnecessary things and simply puts the kibosh on some of those larger items that I would otherwise add to my cart without a thought.  I do need a juicer.  I do.

I'm pretty dang good at cleaning out.  I am no hoarder and fill bags for Goodwill on a pretty regular basis.  I say I want to simplify and clean out.  I am running out of storage so I clear out in attempts to clean my home.  Only to go out and fill it up with some more stuff.  At the back of my mind and heart I feel this is probably not okay.  If I were to add up the impulse purchases in my home, would it be enough to bring an orphan home to their forever family?  Free a woman trapped in the sex trade?  provide clean water for an entire community for a LIFETIME?  This stuff adds up and someday I will have to be accountable to my God and to my fellow man about how I choose to live and spend in this short life I'm given.

7 is the journey of a woman who decides enough is enough and faces her materialism and excess head on.  She partakes in a social experiment in an effort to "unplug from the machine" and allow the Holy Spirit to move.  It's radical.  It's funny.  It's so damn convicting.  The first month she limits her food and deals with the truth about the food we put in our bodies and place before our kids.  Month two she limits her clothing, realizing how much excess we have hanging in our closets and mourning the fact that we could have done something MEANINGFUL with that resource that could have had an eternal impact.  Month three is about possessions.  She gives away seven items everyday for thirty days.  Sounds like a lot but I bet many of us could do it without even feeling the sacrifice of our offerings.  Hello, umbrella #5 I forgot lived in the trunk of my car and pair of adorable jeans I used to wear before two babies waged war on my body.  Month four she deals with our addiction to media.  If you follow me here, on Instagram and FB then you know I certainly don't have an issue with media.  Ahem.  Month five is all about waste.  You know what?  I am just pissing away the Earth's resources with a whistle and a hop in my step.  This Earth is the Lord's creation and I treat it like I am part owner.  I  have a recycling bin but it's required in my community and it allows for me to put more waste out on the curb since my trash can simply can't hold all the crap my family accumulates in a week time span.  Month six is about spending and where we choose to spend our money.  Are we responsible consumers  or are we just as guilty as the factory owner who employs the sweet children who make my affordable crap for next to nothing and in abusive conditions?  Do I funnel my money back into my local economy or shop at Walmart despite the fact that it depresses me BUT they're always rolling back those prices?  I have been a lazy, selfish, and reckless consumer hungry for a deal so I can spend more of my money in other places.  More stuff, y'all!  Month seven is about stress.  She makes an attempt to slow down, keep the sabbath, pause seven times daily to commune with God.  It sounds so hard and so wonderfully inviting.  What would I be like if I was still enough to let God move and speak in my life throughout my day?

So yeah, this book has compelled me forward.  I'm fearful it will be like many other eye opening revelations in my life.  Pressing for a moment but then an afterthought as I go back to my self-loving, comfort-driven ways.  I pray this is the beginning of a mini revolution in my life.

This doesn't mean I am installing a rain barrel this afternoon and you'll never see me at Target again.  In fact, we're headed there this morning.  Woman's gotta restock the fridge after a glorious week of vacation and Target gives my child mini cookies and stickers as well as provides a shopping cart that easily seats a car seat and a wiggly toddler.  See Target's not the enemy, well, maybe their deceptive dollar bins... but blind consumerism is. This is only the beginning of the discussion.

I implore you to read this book.  Then pick up your Bible and see what God has to say about how we spend, eat, waste, give, and live.  Hmmm... perhaps I should suggest Bible first, then Jen's book.  Ahhh, you know what I mean.  Read and think and then let's chat.

Must sign off now.  The Leap Frog episode entertaining my toddler is nearing an end.  Don't act like you've never put a show on to clean the kitchen or, cough, look at Google Reader.  I am human.  Thank you, Lord, for your grace.

7 by Jen Hatmaker


  1. Love your honesty here. Good stuff.

  2. I am really going through the decluttering, getting rid of phase, and yet......there is so much stashed from so many decades of accumulation. That's what basements are for, right? a lot of memories, but a lot to be given to others to use or sold to give money to others. It's a good feeling to let go. You summed it up so well.

  3. Wanted to let you know I totally agree and support your shift in thinking. Its been coming for over a year for me, and the hardest part I think now is feeling critical of how other people spend their time/money/effort now that I see my values shifting, like CANT THEY GET IT, too? It gets easier and easier the fewer four dollar drinks I buy and the more times I go to the park instead of Target.