Thursday, June 9, 2016

Serving my vice and the reaping

1 John 2:16 

For all that is in the world- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions- is not from the Father but is from the world. 

Sometimes we expect blessings to be tangible, when in really it comes as wisdom and experience.

Falling, falling can't get up, trying to buy my way out of it...

The challenging part  as a Christian, is to leave addictions which make me fall on a regular basis. My addiction does not consists of drugs, alcohol, prescribed medications, or need of attention. My addiction is shopping. The general practice of every female from puberty to menopause here in America. The excuse of every lady to go spend some cash (or on someone's credit card if our own is in bad shape!)

I had not realized how bad my addiction to retail was until I started to wonder where my money was actually going. I know we (women) tend to think it's okay to get a little something when we feel depressed, rejected, upset, angry, bitter, competitive, frustrated, you name the emotion, it doesn't matter what "feeling" kicks in, we justify it by saying we deserve to feel better, but even after leaving the store and with the receipt at hand the emotion(s) linger.
My thought every time I saved some money...
I didn't realize I had a problem until the day I moved out from my parents home, It was here I realized I was a hoarder. I own numerous purses, shoes, office supplies (colorful pens, girly notebooks), self help books, you name it I had it. I could have easily put together a Yard Sale, but I didn't, everything was MINE. I found some items which I had not even opened and clothes with the price tag still on them! I had two sweaters of the same brand, price and size as well as two dresses equally intact. And despite this revelation, I still denied my issue.

Immediate satisfaction, broken guarantee...

Everything in that room was a quick fix, not an actual solution. I've done this so many times, I feel a bit upset, stressed, tired, bored go to the mall and buy something on sale, something new, something in a flattering color.  When I knew (and know) I was limited on my budget, I wouldn't go to the mall, I would go to the Dollar Tree, or worse online shopping on Amazon and put things on my "wish list," then after a day or two (or payday) I would purchase.These actions and circumstances were driving me to put more power and attachment to material and monetary things over God.

My behavior was that of a victim that was trying to justify lack of material or of being part of the mundane society. It was like a subliminal message engraved in my brain. The more I gave in, the more debt I developed...

Finding the roots, pulling them like weeds...

Matthew 6:24 
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. 

I blamed God  constantly for my circumstances like any addict.I was worshiping money and elevating it in the place where I should have been elevating and worshiping God, this action can easily turns to love or attachment, even an obsession. I blamed God for the lack of material in my life as a child.  My craving was to have everything that I had lacked growing up. This was the root of my issues, that I felt deprived and loved having something new, shiny, something that made me feel unbroken. This is how I grew up, wanting more money, because I constantly heard my parents fight over money and how they couldn't afford things for their four children. The more material I had, the happier I would feel because I would have fulfilled my need. Every time I got a new job the first question was "Will you get paid more?" and not "Is it your passion?" "Do you feel that your career will grow"? the emphasis in our family was, we need to stand out from our cousins and other relatives, we need to be on top and making more than all of them, otherwise we are just like the rest of the poor people.
Misleading illusions 

To thicken the plot, yes I was teased, bullied and not welcomed into social cliques. This affected me deeply, I had no self esteem, from my adolescence through my early adulthood. I got involved with credit cards  like all young adults in my early twenties, and going into a private online school that costed more than I could ever afford.My program was modified half ways and I ended up wrapping it in 48 months with $100,000 in student loans debt. To this day I am still paying that debt which affects my overall monthly budget.

The wound is and has been deeper than I expected. Part of it was trying to nurture myself, as well as  my wanting to show to the world that I was not struggling. I felt like I was living a double life.

Overall Aftermath...penny pinching, and gaining true wealth 

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God said, "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you. Hebrews 13:5 

The social norm says you get a bonus, you get a raise, go spend indulge YOU DESERVE IT, God says I'm all you need I will always be with you, I will not forget you, I will not forsake, I will always love you. God never leaves us, we are the ones that leave God, we leave him in our past, the back burner, behind the credit card we learned to worship for the frequent flier miles we are racking up. We leave him like an old item and then glorify the new shine item we just purchased, until we feel empty again.
Learning to save daily, a challenge overall but was able to stick it out for a year

The things we do to have emergency money at hand

I was tired of feeling empty, tired of feeling alone. I learned through Christian friends the best thing to do is to pray,  and read my bible and to give up the material things. Giving up material things has been a challenge yet a freeing decision. I was learning to be content with what I had and learn to not forsake God because he never forsake me. The whole financial experience was teaching me that my wealth was not in my purse or bank account but in my experience and gained wisdom on finances. I am not an accountant but I am gradually learning to not have shame for what I lack in material. My true friends love me regardless of what brand my purse is.

"I don't need money in my pocket that will make me partial, I need God in my heart who will make me whole"

Overall, I'm learning to take it a purchase at a time. It sounds funny, but I literally alot myself a specific amount for groceries, gas, bills and additional expenses trying to not deplete my limited amount. I've been tithing at my church, I had never given to a church before. There are times that I do not have the 10% as the bible states we should give (Numbers 18:21-28), however I know that God is still pleased that I give as long as I give willingly and from the heart (2 Corinthian 9:6-7, Luke 21:1-4) The same way that God gives to me he can take away, and I don't have control over that. I do have control over how I choose to spend my money, and daily it is a continual struggle that I face between buying something I see on sale or just letting my money stay in my purse. I have been blessed by taking the latter decision, since I have found ways to help other and at times I feel the holy spirit saying "this money is not for you, it's for what lies in front of you" and I find myself giving it away.
Gradual steps towards blessing others

Learning to have little when at one point I had a lot, it's a challenge, but it's worth it as I find myself feeling thankful that I am gradually walking away from my vice.

This has been my Aha moment...

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