Close your eyes if you need to….
well, ok don’t, that makes it hard to read.
It’s late Sunday morning, you’ve just come out of church. You remember that you need dog food, and church is now conveniently located 300 feet from Costco. Give or take. You drive on over…. cuz ya know, you can’t walk. Well, I don’t know that I’d want to walk back with a 40 lb. of dog food anyway… but indulge me. You drive on over, and you miraculously find a parking space, looking around in the parking lot, shocked at the sheer number of cars. The sheer volume of people. At Costco. At 11:10 am on a Sunday.
I love Costco.
I love that I can get everything I need there…… *cough* want. I can get everything I want. And I can get it all in one place, all for a 50.00 membership fee, or something like that.
But there were so many people. I died a little inside as I tried to navigate my cart through the throngs of people to get to the dog food. That’s all I wanted. Just a 40 pound bag of dog food. It’s so much cheaper at Costco that two bags in a year pays for the membership alone in savings. It’s a no-brainer. The trouble is…. I have never left with only a bag of dog food.
Last time I went in, I went out with a bag of dog food and season 1 of NCIS, which I considered a success, because I *only* spent 20.00 more than I needed to.
Let me tell you another story.
Fast forward one week. I’ve been mulling over the very notion of excess, and the more I think about it, the more of it I see. Bigger, better, more more more more more. And then some more. I need. I need. I NEED. No. I want.
Everyone around me WANTS… but few seem to understand that they don’t need. They want.
It’s now Thursday afternoon and I’m mulling over what I’ve been thinking about for a week and a half. Excess. Too much. Stuff. Stuff everywhere. Need confused with want. Real need…. seeing real need in the lives of others, and I say I can’t help, when I’m drowning in excess. I make a decision for myself. My life is going to change. I’m done with “all you can eat.” I’m done with “buy one get one”…. unless I really need two, of course… NO! BAD! Justification creeps in even in the very attempt to strip the excess down. (But honestly, sometimes, I will not disagree, BOGO is a pretty sweet deal, and if two of something was legitimately a planned purchase and was in my budget, I’m still gonna go for it…)
I’ve come up with a plan.
I get to Bible Study Thursday night, and a friend hands me a stack of books she wants me to read… they’re mostly centered around the biggest area of excess in my life anyway — food. I eat as if I’m never going to have another opportunity to again, and then I whine that I can’t lose weight. I’ve become what I loathed two years ago when I successfully ditched all the excess food that was holding me back. She hands me Made to Crave, Every Body Matters, and 7.
7 is interesting. Its full title is “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker. I started reading it on Friday night. Can I tell you how much I love this woman’s writing? My friend was right, she reminds me a lot of my writing style, and maybe that’s why I love it so much, I don’t know, but it flows, and it’s super easy to read. I imagine it’d be like listening to her talk. Anyway, she is going through, one month at a time, and working on the excess in her life in 7 areas — clothes, shopping, waste, food, possessions, media, stress.
Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. I know she says the book isn’t intended to be a guilt trip, and that’s not how it’s reading, but…. if the shoe fits. It’s incredible.
According to this book, I am incredibly wealthy. And on many levels, I knew that. But she says “How can I be socially responsible if unaware that I reside in the top percentage of wealth in the world? (You probably do too: Make 35,000 a year? Top 4 percent. 50,000? Top 1 percent.)” I’m in the top 1 percentage of wealth in the world. That’s sick. What do I do with that? I tithe, sure. I give my 10 percent. But pretty much just my 10.
I want to give more.
But I spend so much that I don’t feel like I have more to give.
Time to trim back, then.
Friday night after reading some of this sure to be life altering book, I decided. No more buffets. No more clothes shopping. Be happy with what you have. Give some away. “Hey, maybe I can cut down to only 7 foods for a month, too, just like Jen.”
I wake up Saturday morning. Look at the heaping pile of clothes on my dresser thing at the foot of my bed, and sigh because I have nothing to wear. I crawl out from under my two comforters in my 65 degree house and don’t want to get up because I’m cold. I run the hot water in the bathtub until it’s so piping hot it turns my skin red (that’s the way I like it, I assure you. Had to turn the hot water heater up twice since moving in to get it there). My cousin comes down for the day, I go pick him up at the train station…. but first. I go to the mall. At the mall, I buy a tank top. I needed it, you see. I joined the yellow colour house at work and that means I have to wear yellow on spirit days, and I look horrid in most shades of yellow, so I don’t own any…. so I bought a yellow tank top. Fantastic justification skills right there, folks.
My cousin arrives. We go for a walk by the river. I talk about why I changed churches, how I’m feeling less and less comfortable, and how I’m so pleased about that. We decide what to do with the rest of our day…. and decide to go to a Chinese buffet, then to a movie, then for frozen yogurt, then get up the next morning and go out for breakfast before I take him back to the train station.
Someone hit me, please? EXCESSIVE!
I’ve been so upset with the excess AROUND me lately that I’ve not been able to see it IN me. Costco is excessive. Treat days at work are excessive. Buffets are excessive…. but it’s people like me who buy right in who make it so that those lands of excess can thrive. Costco wouldn’t be here if it weren’t so insanely popular. Buffets wouldn’t exist if people weren’t willing to spend 26 dollars to stuff their faces full of food until they thought they could eat no more… and then do it again.
I don’t totally know where I’m going with this, to be honest. I don’t really have it figured out quite yet. I’ve been tossing around some ideas in my head, praying about them, ruminating…. if you will. I’ll let you know what I come up with in the next few days, and as I get deeper into the book. I’m sure I’m soon going to disgust myself enough that I’ll finally act.
Stay tuned for that.
In other news, I read this blog by Jen Hatmaker herself, the author of the book I was talking about… She talks about God saying “I’m not done yet” to her plea for being able to adopt two children. She got the confirmation that one child was approved, and she and her husband got confused. “We thought you said two, God?” “I’m not done yet.”
Is it possible God’s saying to me, “I’m not done yet?” in the area of marriage, and I’m not listening? I don’t know how to listen. I’m bad at that. Must focus. Focus focus focus. Are you just not done yet, God? All I hear is cars whizzing down the street… I don’t know. I don’t know how this works.
And I read this article shared with me by the same friend who’s given me the epic stack of books to work through. It talks about the very thing I was mentioning a bit ago, about not knowing where I fit because I’m in this odd single adult lifestage and no one really knows how to talk or minister to me because of it, and subsequently they say things I resent or I feel ignored. That’s probably partially my attitude, too, but it was a good article. I like Boundless. It’s good reading material.
Oh, sidenote… speaking of books… I went into Coles today while I was at the mall, and managed to behave. I very much WANT the book “A Nation Worth Ranting About” by Rick Mercer, but I can’t afford it, and have a month’s worth of reading to do anyway…. I put it back. I was happy.
272. My wonderful neighbour, Wayne, who loaned me his ladder and came over and pulled out the weeds behind my shed and cut up the wood he’d taken down from the fence part I didn’t want up so I could get it to the road for garbage day. He also gave me a watering can. He’s sweet. *side note* I got halfway up the ladder, half way to my roof, and it turns out that while heights don’t typically bother me… the roof of my house isn’t somewhere I want to be. I didn’t make it up, and so my gutters remain full of leaves. Doh.
273. Home Church — going deeper.
274. Making new friends/meeting new people.
275. A church that challenges and won’t let me leave comfortable.
276. Beautiful skyscapes. (taken with my Motorola Charm)
277. Spontaneous friend visits.
278. All things coconut.
279. Strong bones. (Funny story here. Yesterday, walking up the steps to the house where Home Church would be held, I tripped over my own feet somehow… and I wiped out. Landed on my knees, then bashed my shoulder into the door. It hurt. I almost cried. But I told no one, I’m a champ, haha. You should see the bruise on my right knee. It’s impressive. But I’m thankful tonight that nothing broke.)