For years I’ve railed against the American Dream philosophy that says you deserve to buy happiness. I’ve mocked and preached against the wastefulness so prevalent in North America and begged people to turn away from it, particularly Christians.
And, generally speaking, I definitely still hold to that opinion. People on this side of the globe waste gobs of money. Gobs. On stuff they don’t need. Usually while going in debt.
However, the problem I’ve had is balancing my convictions against waste with my desire to still occasionally purchase something small that is technically in no way necessary but just (gasp) a treat. Even now, in my relative guiltless state, I feel twinges of the g-word about this.
Why? Well, the biggest reason is because you guys have become so faithful in supporting us. And when you’re in such a position that you have to rely on God and others, you feel in no way deserving of spending even a cent on something that isn’t in some form a necessity. Gas in the car? Sure. Candy at the grocery store? No Ma’am.
There’s this sense of letting your supporters down. Of seeming unappreciative and wasteful. After all, if you’re claiming to not be able to cover rent and bills and groceries, where on earth is there wiggle room for that pumpkin spice latte?
But the truth is, when people are supporting you, when people are generous, when God provides in miraculous ways, there often are bits and pieces of wiggle room. And I’m trying to come to a place of not feeling like a total witch for taking those moments.
Once a week I cross the border to check the mail and find boxes of cereal and whatnot waiting on me from you lovely people. And then I have the audacity to fish through a bag of change and order a cheap coffee at the Border Brew Drive thru before I turn around to sit in line and wait my turn to be questioned by a guy with a gun about where I’ve been. It’s a treat. A once a week treat.
Not gobs of wastefulness. Not mounding debt. Not pageant-level extravagance. But a treat, nonetheless.
And I think it’s okay. I mean, I’m not totally convinced – hence the guilt. But somewhere deep down something tells me that Jesus loves me and loves to give me good things – and that includes miracles through you guys and lattes found at the bottom of a bag of change.
There’s got to be balance somewhere between the prosperity and poverty gospels.
And I might as well find that balance now, because this is just the beginning. I’ve heard other missionaries talk and I think there will always be a huge sense of responsibility that comes with being funded by others. Even when you’re a world away in India and buying lunch from some local hole in the wall and standing in the street eating it there’s a sense of . . . servitude? Responsibility, at the very least.
It’s just so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we can’t ever make a purchase that isn’t an outright necessity or we’re bad, evil, irresponsible, Christians. And that Jesus hates us.
But I think, perhaps, that’s a little oversimplified, a little black and white.
So, I hope you’ll forgive me, but I’m still going to occasionally buy a special coffee or two. Not every day, not tens of dollars a week, but an occasional treat. I hope we can still be friends. And that you won’t quit supporting us now that you know what a terrible person I am.
Where do you find the balance between over spending and under spending?
Photo by photoeuphoria