A few days ago on Facebook I encountered this status from a friend: If you’re new to this conversation, you may want to start with post (1).
I posed this question: How do you feel when you buy something? I hope we all took a few moments to answer it for ourselves because in order to conquer the beast of excess, we have to do the emotional work for ourselves.
When I saw this post on Facebook, I found its author to be so very brave. She happens to be a young woman, and I was so proud of her because she was recognizing her emotions for what they were without pretense or guilt. It’s a brave act to be vulnerable and she was so vulnerable. She recognized her desire to shop at Target was based on unpleasant feelings. We would be wise to follow her lead.
Asking yourself how you feel or taking your emotional temperature can be a technique of mature self-discipline when it comes to activities like eating, alcohol & drug consumption or shopping. This is because a lot of compulsive behaviors can be a cover up for emotions we just don’t feel comfortable recognizing or dealing with. We all have our favorites and we use them to fill the void, there’s no guilt here because I do it too.
In the book, Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul the author, Jennie Allen says this about those uncomfortable feelings, “When I curl up on my sofa with God and His Word, that feeling that makes me want to bolt should be the feeling that keeps me there with him. It’s the weight of my sin pushing me down from the high and lofty places where my pride would rather keep me. See, I like to feel good about myself. I prefer high places where I am numb to a place where my face is wet from tears because I realize how hopeless I am apart from Jesus. I want to be poised and together and cute and happy. That’s the girl I want to be. But my sin… I don’t want to deal with that. I often live padded with self-righteousness.”
This is the human condition. It’s the way we all want to live; numb to our sin. So we pad ourselves with the excess of _______. You fill in the blank; it’s different for everyone. I know that I want to look “together.” I don’t like to let my chaos show and if I can convince myself that I’m poised and together and cute and happy, then surely I can convince you of it. What does this have to do with consumerism and excess? Well, it’s one of the driving forces behind it. We can have all the garage sales we want, and make trips to the local Goodwill every week, but if we don’t stop consuming, the cycle continues. If I have an empty closet, the desire to fill it will be strong if I don’t reconcile the feelings behind why I’m shopping.
In the next post I will share some practical ways to curb the excess, but for now I will leave you with a book recommendation. If you find yourself in excess in any area of your life, this book will pierce the bubble. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker