Originally posted at Breathing Grace in August 2011, this post was revived and updated after reading Hawaiian Libertarian’s post Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget, and Alte’s post Your Home is Too Damn Big.
I was cleaning house today and realized that the vast majority of the things I picked up, dusted, and rearranged were things I could do without. What’s worse, I’ve trained my kids to view luxuries as necessities. Even worse is that this has occurred despite the fact that we have deliberately given our kids far less in terms of material things than a lot of their friends enjoy. The twins (17) share a cell phone until they can afford to pay their own bill. The eldest takes the car to go to the movies or dinner with friends only if she can foot the gas bill for the trip.
They each have their own laptops because college students “need” laptops. But they also do more chores, carry less money, and have fewer gadgets than all of their friends, who are aghast at the level of deprivation they suffer. Still they manage to seem coddled and spoiled compared to what their father and I were two decades ago. Much of this is a byproduct of living in a “prosperous time” I suppose.
It’s not wrong to enjoy some little extras in life. Keoni’s bit about artisan cheeses hit very close to home as my husband splurges on cheese, and we indulge our girls’ love of accessories since their mother shares it also. It’s just that when I consider the amount of things that we own that we don’t even use I know a line has been crossed. I regularly, once per quarter, haul a trunk of clothes and/or toys to Goodwill as a donation, yet my closet remains full. This despite my professed best effort to live a simple, frugal lifestyle. As a believer I feel an added duty to not allow myself to have a worldly attitude towards things and materialism. Just because I can buy something doesn’t mean that I should. Especially in light of this admonition from scripture:
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. ” 1John 2:15-17
I know I’m not alone in this. One of my core beliefs is that humanity is a shared experience. If I am struggling in a particular area there is certainly someone else who is grappling with the same issue, whether or not they ever tell another soul. It is a personal goal of mine to learn to live more simply. It’s important every so often to take an inventory and re-prioritize. Now is as good a time as any. I pray that I can make the hard choices and set the boundaries necessary to insure that I have time for the things that matter most. And hopefully, I can train my younger kids and re-train my older children by example. The horse may have left the barn in the latter case.
In the coming years, the typical American standard of living will of necessity be pared down. The economic circus we see unfolding worldwide is just a snapshot of most Americans’ personal economic policies and even those of us who don’t live on revolving credit will as citizens, have to reap a bit of the carelessness our country has sown. All the more reason, in my opinion, for each of us to train ourselves to be know how to live of simplicity and reject this heavily materialistic culture.
One day we’ll be glad we did.