Today’s my 42nd birthday. I’m sitting outside of a Starbucks waiting for my Genius Bar appointment to check on the battery life of my iPhone. It’s ironic that I’m sitting in a mall right now, given the decision I’m making today. This has actually been on my mind and heart to do for the last several years, but for this reason or that reason, I’ve not yet done it.
But today is the day.
As of today, February 27, 2013, I am not shopping for anything new for an entire year. Nope. I cannot buy one stitch of clothing, a purse, or costume jewelry for myself until February 27, 2014.
You may be thinking…”Carmen, are you confessing to being a shopoholic?” Nope. I’m not. Because it’s not that at all. The reason is simple…
I have enough.
A few things have brought me to this decision.
The first was the 4 mission trips I’ve been on the last 5 years. Once you’ve visited a foreign county, you realize just what a consumption society we are. This isn’t an indictment against anyone, our country, or standing in protest. I’m all about supporting our economy! And I will continue to do so. I just won’t do it by purchasing clothing, purses, jewelry (and maybe) shoes. I’ve not decided about this one yet. Shoes aren’t my weakness; purses are.
The second is that every time my birthday rolls around, Pete, the girls, and my mom ask me what I want for my birthday. I honestly can never tell them one single thing. Can anybody relate? As a family, we’ve really transformed our Christmases the last couple of years. We were having the same conversation year after year, “Girls, what do you want for Christmas?” // “I don’t know, Mom, let me think about it.” End scene. // Frantically, I’d end up at the mall, walking around for hours, hurrying to buy more of what they didn’t need, for more money than I should’ve spent, and wasting lots of hours I’d never get back. It was madness. So the last few years, we’ve not done gifts, and have spent quality time together, making a memory instead. At this point, I do feel the need to say emphatically … BY NO MEANS am I saying it’s not good to buy Christmas gifts for the ones you love! I still buy my girls small stocking stuffer type gifts. I do buy them birthday gifts. I do still buy gifts for lots of people! I love buying gifts. Gifts are my love language. But I buy gifts now because I want to; not because I have to.
But I digress regarding Christmas. Probably because Christmas has been another indicator that we have enough. More than enough.
Lastly, I’ve been reading a book called “7, An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker.
7, an experimental mutiny against excess
I’m only on Chapter 3, but I love where it’s going. Long story short, Jen and her family took in another family during a hurricane. When their guests arrived at their home, a little boy ran inside and said, “Look dad, they’re rich!” Jen lives in a normal, middle class neighborhood. But to this child (and accurately so) she was rich!
I’ve been to Peru. I’ve been to Guatemala. I’ve been to Honduras. Trust me, we are rich. I live in a 2100 square foot, 2 bath, 2 car garage home. And I am rich.
I’ve got more clothes in my closet than I can wear. Heck, I’ve got a whole wardrobe in 3 sizes!! I’ve got more purses than I can carry. I have so much fun jewelry I sometimes forget what I have. I don’t need a thing. If I invited you into my closet, I would be embarrassed. (Anyone wanna join me in a closet confession?)
So the year experiment begins today. This isn’t to say you won’t see me in a mall. You will. Admittedly, one of my favorite things to do is to get my girls and meet my mom at the mall. We like to grab a Starbucks, walk around and browse (usually this is when the “buying things I don’t need” transactions take place), and then we’ll have a late lunch at California Pizza Kitchen (btw, the hummus appetizer and roasted vegetable salad are my favorites!) But I digress again.
I ‘m not gonna get super legalistic about this. I know me. As soon as I tell myself I can’t do something (or eat something), I want it all the more. It’s truly not about keeping the rules. It’s about transformation, downsizing, and getting rid of the excess. I will still buy makeup (not lip gloss, tho! I have 12 tubes). I will still buy things for my girls. I will still buy gifts for my friends. But for myself, I want to enjoy and be OK with what I already own. If a craving hits (and it most likely will), I want to satisfy it on behalf of someone who needs it more than me.
And finally, PLEASE don’t hear this as me being super spiritual. I am so NOT. Trust me! God is working some things out in me that need to be worked out. This is a personal acknowledgement (and repentance in some ways) to the Lord. A step towards true gratitude (likewise, sometimes I wonder if I even know real hunger). This is a step towards knowing the difference between wants vs. real needs. This is a step towards contentment with what I have, breaking the habit of buying, and pleasing God with every dollar I spend.
Perhaps it’s best summed up best this way:
Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should. So for my 42nd year of life, I’m not.