27 February 2008

Contentment vs Consumerism

For over a week now I have been at home nursing a back that's 'out' and/or a nerve that is pinched. At first I was so miserable with pain that day to day survival was my focus. I keep feeling as though I am healing but for the last two days I wake up feeling a little worse than the day before. My floors need to be mopped, my rugs vacuumed, my bed linens changed and my poor little doggie needs a good romp out in the woods.

Sunday night I normally have to take my garbage cans to the end of my driveway for Monday morning's early pick-up. My back was in such bad shape that there was no way I was going to risk it greater injury by wrestling with them. Today I took out a bag of trash to the cans and realized the cans were both empty. Being home for a week I hadn't been to the store, done much shopping or done anything much to make refuse.

What I am doing is catching up on my reading. I am honestly preparing myself for reading a couple of books that are likely going to convict me. I mean that. I am preparing the soil for what I know is going to be a difficult season and ultimately a wonderful harvest. Part of this journey has been about cultivating an attitude of gratitude. When I consider what I have I realize I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams.

Confession time: Today instead of reading I watched some television and of all things to watch, I turned on Oprah. Lisa Ling, whose work as a journalist I appreciate, had a story about 'freegans.' You can find some information on Oprah's site here. For those of you who hate clicking back and forth on websites, freegans are people who reject our societies rampant consumer values. Ms. Ling interviewed people with 6 figure incomes who did their shopping out of dumpsters. One couple in particular caught my attention. Their names are Daniel and Amanda and they are newlyweds. Newlyweds alway have a tough time surviving, right? Not these two. He is a doctor and she is an engineer. And yes... they are freegans.

Lisa Ling followed them as they collected food from a dumpster. Amanda admitted to being grossed out about it at first, but she changed her mind when she saw the quality of goods that were being thrown away. She's a better woman than I am. I admit I could do it if I had to. I doubt very seriously I would do it if I had $20 in my checking account. Here's the part that caught my attention.

-What made them think it was a good idea in the first place? Daniel says freegan ideas about consumption fit into their beliefs. "We try to live very simply, and we don't spend a lot on ourselves. We are very happy with having a little," he says. "We like to make it a priority to share a lot of our money. A lot of that comes from our Christian values of sharing and generosity."- (copied from Oprah's site linked above)

Wow. I am convicted by their example.
I thought I was doing well to cultivate my attitude of gratitude and yet here are people who are opting out of our society's consumerist mentality not because they live on a fixed income as I do, but because their Christian value system motivates them to buy less and give more.

I am not condemning anybody for having. I firmly believe you should buy the best that you can afford- best meaning best quality for performance and longevity and not best meaning most popular brand. I also think there is a clear difference between buying what you want and what you need.

Contentment. I am going to work on being content with having less stuff and spending more on the things He values.

Psalm 131:1-3
1 O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; nor do I involve myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me.
2 Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child {rests} against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me.
3 O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forever.
(NAS)

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