Treat Yo Self Guilt

Rolling in the Washingtons. Ungh.


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.


This is an old picture. From February. In Georgia. But still.

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 others who rely on support 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 a third world country 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


  1. David Bevan says:


    In my experience, whatever ‘channel’ your income comes through, the key is to recognize it is the Lord alone who is providing, and you are responsible to Him, not to the ‘channel’, for how you spend it. If you’re walking closely enough with Him, He’ll direct you. Live to an audience of the One who loves you beyond imagining, and experience His freedom!

    Thanks for your writings.

    God bless,


    P.S. A little on my background: 1980s – preparing to go abroad; 1990s – in Papua New Guinea with Wycliffe Bible Translators; 2000s – increasingly well-paid job; 2010s – studying for a PhD. (Each season with different challenges.)

  2. Sally Roach says:

    If only our public “servants” would feel so responsible with the funds they take from us. Talk about extravagant waste! Enjoy your coffee, Jessica! The people who support you also love you and would be happy that you treat yourself and your children.

  3. Girl…drink your coffee in peace. I see what you’re saying…I respect it…but just…drink your coffee in peace. It’s all good.

  4. there is peace in each sip enjoy it.

  5. Love it Jessica. This is an area I’ve struggled with constantly throughout my life. After reading God’s Smuggler, Brother Andrew’s story, I got a broader picture of our God as a king and my place as a child of The King. He’s pretty amazing and generous with His children. He takes pleasure in our enjoyment of His gifts. especially good coffee. (Ok maybe that part isn’t in the Bible, but I’m pretty sure it’s implied.)

  6. Just another perspective here … I am coming to believe that Jesus is so much more than how many of us see him. I’ve been listening to “Beautiful Outlaw” by John Eldredge and wow when you look at the gospels you see so much more than one facet of him (I find myself concentrating a lot on his love and not the balance of other sides of him). One side of him IS extravagance, just one example of turning the water into wine shows that Jesus liked the ‘good stuff’ in life. I doubt we’d see such amazing beauty in creation if God didn’t like going over the top and enjoying the best of everything. Now the balance is that he doesn’t promise it and we all experience it in different ways. I just don’t think God is asking everyone to not have anything and not to indulge in life at all. It’s tricky when you have people supporting you financially, but I guess that’s where the trust comes in. I can see you trust by writing this post, but how would you feel if you got a chunk of money and you decided to buy yourself that macbook you have dreamt of for so long? Is that a step you could take or is it limited to a good coffee? Could you do that and still trust God would provide despite the fact I am sure some supporters would judge you much quicker than buying a coffee? Anyway just some extra thoughts to think on :)

    • I’m totally a “small price” treater. Even if I got a huge chunk of money it would just be set aside for a bigger purpose. The only time we buy things like new computers is if the old one actually dies, ya know what I mean? :)

  7. This feeling is one of my strongest memories of living on support. Looking back I realize that God Who Provides is far more generous than the judgemental supporters in my imagination. So were most of our real supporters.

    I like your phrase “finding the balance between the prosperity and poverty gospels.” Definitely a challenge for us all. Maybe it looks different for everybody?

    • There’s always this sense of coming off as a scammer, yes? “Oh, she says she doesn’t have enough monthly income to cover groceries but she just bought a latte!”

  8. Bailey Bullock says:

    As I balance my still-getting-money-from-mommy-and-daddy-but-paying-for-extras-with-depleting-leftover-lifeguard-money finances, I keep in mind that someone eats because the people who run the coffee shop sell coffee to people like me digging for change out of the ashtray. And I would pray with that person that they would find a job. And next year I hope to have a job at that coffee shop, getting paid by people stopping by for an unnecessary cup of coffee. I appreciate that you acknowledge a balance between those two ideas.

  9. I have to fess up and admit that I’m not currently financially supporting you guys because I’m already financially contributing to several other families and you seem to have things in hand, if not abundantly rolling in the dough. But I am giving generously to a couple of other families and so I’m going to tell you the same thing I would tell one of them if they made this confession: I give out of my abundance so that you can be blessed the same way I am – and that includes treats. In fact, sometimes even when I know that your needs are met I continue to give so that you can have some of your wants because it’s ok to want and it’s ok to enjoy things. And also – when I give to you I’m doing just that…GIVING. What I give is yours to do with as you see fit, whether that’s buying oatmeal, gas for the car, or a pumpkin latte. Because you are a grown person, a beautiful sister in Christ, as fully capable of managing your affairs as I am of managing mine. I trust you to know how to spend your money with only the help of the Guy Upstairs; you don’t need my input unless you ask for it. Enjoy your pumpkin latte and full body cavity search at the border.

  10. Brandon G. Smith says:

    Gob(s) is an underused word. Bravo.

  11. God delights in His children and He likes to give them good and perfect gifts. it’s when we start thinking that we deserve them that it becomes a problem! I don’t think you having a coffee now and then is a problem! Enjoy it!

  12. No one is supporting me financially, but I still feel that twinge of guilt when I indulge on something and the bills aren’t paid.

    Side note: I actually apologized to God the other day as I was writing a check for a medical bill when I would rather be writing a big ol’ check to missions. And He said (not audibly, but in my heart, clear as a bell), “I’m taking care of you!” And I was like, WHOAH. And He was SO right.

  13. first, LOVE treat yo-self and Parks & Rec. And also in the same boat, supported, sacrificing, accountable, yet still really really love Starbucks. There, I said it.


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