Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Enough is as Good as a Feast
I am blessed with so much in my life. I’m blessed with the things that matter—love and family and friends. I’m blessed to live in a beautiful place, to be free to believe what I want and to teach my children. I’m blessed to have so many opportunities and choices. And compared to most of the world, I am blessed worth an abundance of material things.
I’ve been thinking about those material things. I often say to the kids as we wander distractedly through a store-“Have you noticed they’re just trying to sell us stuff?’ Of course, that’s true, but I don’t always want to think of it that way. They want me to exchange my money for these things. That money spent cannot be spent again and it can’t be spent on something else, perhaps something more important. That money took a measured amount of my husband’s time and energy to earn. I’m responsible to spend it wisely.
We have had some years when money was tight and there weren’t so many options and decisions to make (besides which bill to pay late and which kind of Ramen noodles to buy!) I am so grateful for the blessing we have enjoyed the past few years of having a more stable income and room in our budget for some “extras”. But that comes also with a sobering sense of wanting to be a good steward of what we have, to use it wisely for our family and to help others.
I love to get a good price on stuff. That has, at times, contributed to my being a “junk collector’, as we call it in our family. I would see things at a garage sale, the Goodwill, or clearance table, or the homeschool give-away box and think I needed to get it just because it was a good deal, and if I didn’t need it, surely someone I knew could use it. I am trying not to do that anymore—I don’t want to add to the piles in my closet and the boxes in my garage that I am already need to clear the clutter out of. So, as I often find myself thinking some things a good deal, or free, and I might have a use for it someday, I am trying to stop and think-- What will having this thing gain me? Is it needed, useful or would actually bring beauty and joy to our lives? Or is it just one more thing that will cost me—by wasting my money, cluttering my house and ending up in a pile of stuff that overwhelms me?
I have to admit I fall into the trap advertising sets for me sometimes. I see the shiny pictures, the displays at the mall, the colors, or the excitement of an e-bay auction, the feeling of walking down the mall with an armful of bags, and I unconsciously think I would be happier if I just had that thing. I recently went to a Pampered Chef party with one or two things I was going to buy and then when I started looking at the catalogue- I saw about 20 more I wanted. There’s nothing wrong with these things, in fact some of them I probably will buy someday-if I will really use them and have a place for them. It was just the change I felt in my heart-rather than thankfulness for what I got, I focused on wishing I had more. And the truth is while these kitchen tools may be fun or make my jobs easier, no matter how well my kitchen is outfitted- they themselves don’t create the atmosphere of sitting down to a delicious meal with my family. It’s people—like the Proverb says ”better is a dish of vegetables where love is…” I think the lies that advertising sells us, especially women, are important to keep in mind and to expose to ourselves and to our children.
Peace and I were in the Goodwill about a year ago and I pulled out a pretty shirt her size. It was a good brand and only a dollar or two and I was trying to see if she wanted me to buy it for her. She told me, ”No, I think I have enough shirts’. This older lady was near us and she said,” Isn’t it great that someone so young can know when enough is enough?” That has stuck with me. Let’s leave the shirt for someone who needs it and will be happy to have it. Enough is enough.. Or as Mary Poppins said ,”Enough is as good as a feast.”
I have a quote on my fridge that says,’Life is relationships, the rest is just stuff. We can’t take it with us. It should serve us rather that us serving it by having it be too important or take away from what is important. I also am having the thought that this way of thinking is the key to living a simple life. Enough is enough when it comes to material things, but also to activities, to the pressure we put on ourselves, the things that complicate our lives.
So, the next time I go to the store and start getting vortexed—that’s what my kids say when we start wandering in circles looking at stuff—I want to see all that Stuff for what it is, no matter how great the sale is. I want to tell myself the truth about how happy it will make me, to make a wise decision, and to be very thankful for what I have been blessed with.