Wednesday, November 9, 2011

No-spend November

We are nine days into an experiment that I always thought would be the dog-poop of all experiments. I'd heard of others doing this experiment, and I'd watched from afar, thinking, "Noble, but that would stink."

And now we've stepped into the dog-poop, and it's not crap. I think I might have been standing in the crap all along.

We are not spending any money for 30 days. When I say "any money", there are obviously some exceptions. Food, yes. Toilet paper, yes. (We are down to one roll. I did think about leaves...there are so many on the ground right now.) 1 or 2 dates, yes. But anything else, no. Clothes, no. Knick-knacks for the house, no. Garage-saling, no. Online shopping, no.

The first day, I thought it would be interesting to make a list of all the things I would normally buy. I was working on a sewing project that night, and I reached a point where I wanted to hop in the car, drive the 10 minutes to Wal-mart, and pick up what I needed. I thought the project was a goner 'til December 1. But, I went through my sewing stash, and whadda you know, I found something that worked.

A revolutionary thought came out of that moment:

"I have never really had to make-do with what I have."

I thought of my grandparents. (Hey grandparents! Love you!) They grew up during the Great Depression. They know what it is to make-do. Even my momma, growing up in the 50s, knows. Abundance never outweighed leanness for her family of ten.

But knowing how to make-do is not the real issue at hand. I wanted this to be a post about that, how cool and exhilarating it is to make-do, to get creative, to start seeing what you have with a grateful heart. I even took a picture of a beautiful teacup in the perfect dusky light. Look there! When you don't spend, you find beautiful teacups you forgot you had, and you enjoy them.

That would have been a quaint blog post. I really did like that picture.

What I really have to tell you, though, what is beating inside me wildly and will not stop drumming, is the truth that my spending habits uncover what is in my heart. It's not just money and stuff and receipts. I would like to separate them out like that. But, no. When I stop spending, and I roll up the rugs to sweep up a little bit, I realize how messy and gross my heart has become.

Most of what I buy is about me.

About how I can be satisfied.

About how I can be fulfilled.

About how I can appear cooler to people, more fashionable and stylish.

About how I can feel like I've arrived, or I've made it.

And those motives? I can't take those motives lightly. I looked in the gospels, and Jesus pulled down woes upon such hearts. His Kingdom is the antithesis of motives like these.

But oh grace. Grace that He should bop me on the head hard for a life selfish and small, yet He doesn't. He uses my silly experiment to crumble my heart and stands ready to help with the rebuilding, a new blueprint at hand.

What He wants to do with us is far beyond us. Aaron always tells our K-Life kids, "There is a bigger story. You are part of it, but it is bigger than you." What He has given us is not for us. May our hearts always be broken when we realize that we have used His gifts for our own kingdoms.

I don't know completely what to expect from here on out. I'm not saying that we can't spend money and follow Jesus too. I'm not advocating a poverty theology. I'm just sayin' that I have, at times, been crazily piling stuff onto my back and looking in the mirror and taking pictures of my neat things and trying to follow Jesus.

It's so much easier to go unburdened.

This unexpected freedom, this joy I didn't see standing to meet me--they remind me of a yoke that was promised to be light.

I wanna wear that light yoke, and I wanna believe,

"It's all about Him."

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