Monday, November 24, 2008

Economic Ignorance Part Two

I understand completely if you'd rather not answer this question, but have you spent money because of low self-esteem? By that I mean, I have spent money I literally didn't have because I felt otherwise I appeared "less than." Keeping up with the Joneses anyone?

I am embarrassed to tell you that when I decide what to wear to work, I will think about what I wore to the last such meeting so I don't wear the same outfit. I guess because I am afraid that someone might think I don't have a lot of clothes. The thoughts started with me when I was searching for paper to make a grocery list. I found a print-out of directions to somewhere from a few weeks ago and flipped that paper over for my list. Somehow that made me think about how much paper I could recycle for this kind of thing that gets pitched. And somehow that made me think of how much money people spend on scratch paper. Why in the world is there an industry for scratch pads? Because someone decided that if you flip over used paper to use again you can't afford more paper? I don't know. It sounds crazy but then again, consider the source.

That impulse spending is just about gone for me now. But boy, did I blow through the money in the old days for the benefit of people who I doubt very much noticed or cared if my home decor was three years behind what HGTV identified as the latest.

Is this about being frugal? I guess so but not entirely. It's also about the impact of other people on us and what we have culturally placed value on. The frugal person has strict limits on their spending period. Although that is admirable it's not really what I'm thinking about. I'm thinking about spending money with careful thought but also based on really knowing what I want and being comfortable with myself even if someone else might notice that I have had the same curtains for twenty years.

Really, although I started out calling this a matter of low self esteem it's also a matter of extreme self-centeredness. This idea that other people have nothing better to do than to measure my worth as I am so very fascinating. As though someone who saw me at a meeting two months ago made a mental note of the sweater I wore and is just waiting to see what I'll have on this time. It a way that satan focuses us in on ourselves. With vanity or self-loathing, we still put God in our peripheral vision while we concentrate on the person in the mirror.

Is this another lesson America needs to learn? Have we nationally done this silly thing, spend money for the sake of an image? Do we need to look prosperous no matter what the cost?

Will we starve inside of our mansions?


Mike Edwards said...

You bring out such a great question. Utimately, it's a gospel issue. What idol are we setting up as our "functional savior" instead of Jesus?

The answer is found in the gospel, of course, in the person and work of Jesus. What has he done for us to secure our image and provision, in the cross and resurrection, that relieves us of our need to find a solution.

Amrita said...

Good post Sara. Happy thanksgiving.

Mrs. Mac said...

I'm very frugal ... bargain basement, trash dumpster, repurpose junk queen, not too proud to buy second hand, and could care less what other people think about my two sets of clothes and one pair of comfy shoes. I could live in a shack or a mansion, sleep with a rock for a pillow if need be. Pioneer stock, through and through ... Jesus owns everything I've got.