Life with Jesus / Social Justice

Dear America: Revisited

You might remember this post here where I ripped America a new one for our obsession with excess at the expense of others.

As soon as I hit the post button, I immediately felt like I needed to drive to JC Penney and buy every article of clothing they have there, now that they’ve ditched their elastic jeans department in favor clothes that look like a bag of jelly beans threw up. Seriously, it was like the urge to go pee except that instead of running to the bathroom, I needed to run to the clearance racks at Target.

Why? Why did I feel the need to do that? I had just written a blog about how we have so much crap in our houses that we don’t need and alot of it was made by people that are being paid unfairly and working in horrible conditions. Isn’t that enough to keep me from not shopping?

No. It’s not. Here’s why: I was missing a piece of that materialistic puzzle (Can I buy the missing piece on Amazon? Just kidding.) Our thirst for stuff isn’t only because we’re spoiled or entitled. It’s because we’re empty and we think things will fill us up.  Our security is in our things. We watch TV shows like Hoarders and cringe, but in reality, to most of the world, Americans look like hoarders- unable to quit spending and drowning in our things.

So, just to be clear:

woman who stockpiles food and won’t throw away it away until it’s “puffy” (which is a scientific term) = woman who has approximately 34 cardigans and still goes to Old Nay hoping sweaters will be on sale (this woman is me)

When I try to clear out my closets, I think, “What if I need to wear this sometime in the future?” Here’s the answer forever and always: I will never NEED to wear a sweater. Plenty of people get along without them so I could too.

Before I go any further, let me direct you to Jen Hatmaker’s blog about materialism. I found her a few weeks ago and read all of the blogs about the children she’s adopted. Alex, who was watching some gangsta show, looked over at me and I was weeping on the couch (which isn’t as uncommon as you might think). I read her Easter blog yesterday morning and it’s been with me all day. God is using this lady to yell at me (lovingly, of course).  Please pay attention to this line… “While the richest people on earth pray to get richer, the rest of the world begs for intervention with their faces pressed to the window, watching us drink our coffee, unruffled by their suffering.”

Ouchie. Let me say this first. Our house doesn’t look like a magazine. In fact, our bedroom might be the ugliest room I’ve ever lived in because we don’t feel like buying furniture that matches (or a bed). Usually, unless I write a blog about spending money that makes me want to purge our bank account on shoes made in Vietnam, we are pretty good about not spending money on things that we don’t need. Our “security” lies in our funds. We are super-savers. After two years of marriage, we paid for Alex’s grad school in cash (and that’s with me making about as much as someone who works at McDonald’s). Alex has been out of school a little over a year and we’ve already got enough for 20% down on a house. After reading Jen’s blog yesterday and ruminating on my recent financial desires, God has really shown me that He hasn’t been involved in my finances lately.

We haven’t been using our excess cash to help people. We’ve been stockpiling it away, where it does nothing but make us depend on a bank account instead of Jesus.  Before a parable Jesus tells about a man who wants to store all of his grain instead of depending on God, JC says, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 

Life does not consist in the abundance of our possessions.

Life does not consist in the abundance of our possessions.

Life does not consist in the abundance of our possessions.

I love that because it’s true and we mostly ignore it.

Alex and I are praying about what this truth means for us in the future. Jesus was radical in everything that He did. As His followers, why shouldn’t we be the same?

What do you think?

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