Things I’ve learned from killing consumerism #13 – We want beauty for ourselves

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I’ve been thinking about why it is that I used to shop so much, when I’m actually completely fine without it. It’s as though I had this consumer instinct inside me that just needed to possess. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much this permeates all of our lives.

We’re not content to just look… we want beauty for ourselves.

I think this covetous instinct dates back to the beginning of time, but it astounds me how it has exploded in recent decades. It’s not just about buying; it’s about capturing. Why is it that half of us travel the world, seeing it all through a camera lens? Why is it that we record concerts and speeches and sermons? Why is it that when I see something beautiful in the shops, I feel such a desperate need to possess it?

Is it fear? Are we afraid that if we don’t hold on to things, the beauty will be lost? Why can we not just stop, look, appreciate and move on? There’s enough beauty to go round.

P.S. I wonder if I could go a whole year without taking a photo? Just a thought…

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Things I’ve learned from killing consumerism #7 – You don’t know it’s enough til it’s enough

shopping--outlet--skirt--skirts_3196466“Miss, I haven’t seen you wear the same thing all year.”

This comment came from one of my year 12 boys last week. Now let’s face it, boys aren’t the most observant, I’m sure I’ve worn several things multiple times, but he does have a point.

I’ve generally aimed to mix and match and not wear the same thing multiple times in the classroom… in a weird sort of way I think it’s respectful to the kids… but who would have thought that four months in to not buying anything I’d still be managing to not double up. In fact, as I think about it, there are multiple items in my wardrobe (I’d take a stab and say 20) that I actually haven’t worn all year.

So, once again I find myself asking how it was that I ever really believed that I ‘needed’ more stuff. Maybe it’s because you don’t know it’s enough till it’s enough. You don’t know you’re being excessive until you realize how easily you can live with less.

It’s Just Stuff…

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Have you ever destroyed something before you even got to use it? I have.

The other day I bought a new outfit. It was something a bit different, that I wouldn’t normally buy, but it was heavily reduced. And, let’s be honest, it looked pretty good on me. Virtually the instant I put in on in the change room it was sold. I imagined wearing it to parent-teacher interviews at work, and to church on Sunday. My vanity was probably getting the better of me.

I was so excited about the outfit that it was a talking point that night when I went out for dinner with friends.

Sunday morning I got ready for Church and went to iron my new outfit before I left. I turned the iron’s temperature down, but didn’t wait for it to cool. I didn’t think it needed to. The iron was on the garment for all of two seconds and it was ruined. As I lifted the iron away, a big piece of fabric lifted too, leaving a crusty, melted hole.

For a minute I considered crying. I thought of going back to my room and not bothering to go to church. But then I remembered: ‘Sarah, it’s just stuff!’ How often have I let myself become consumed with things that are just things? I put on a different outfit, and went to church, acknowledging to God ruefully that He had likely saved me from my vanity.

Why You Won’t See Me In A Bikini This Summer

Picture1Bikinis seem to be a way of life during Australian summers, but I’ve decided you won’t see me in one.

I’ve had people suggest that perhaps the reason that I’m never seen in these ‘barely there’ bits of frills and lycra is because I’m ashamed of my body, or lacking in confidence. It isn’t.

To be honest, the reason you won’t find me baring it all at the beach, along with everyone else, comes down to my Christian fatih. And, hard as it is at times, that means that I don’t always follow culture.

The Bible consistently calls for a radical standard from its followers and when it calls for women to dress modestly… well try as I might, I just can’t find anything modest about the bikini.

My body was not created to be flaunted to the world. It was created first as a temple of the Holy Spirit and then for the eyes of one man. Not because I couldn’t enjoy the attention of dozens, but because I was called to a radical standard.

I think that as Christians it’s really important that we don’t judge others who don’t agree with our standards. That’s not our job, but that doesn’t mean we can’t stand for what we believe in.

So this year, I’m making a stand for elegance and modesty, and I know there are a lot of girls out there who will be joining me.

(For a really interesting look at the evolution of the Bikini and the way in which it has affected our society, check out Jessica Rey’s talk here.)

Paying it Forward

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Several years ago I really wrestled with having some friends who were able to offer me so much more than I could offer them. They were a young couple who had an abundance of gifts and abilities. The wife used to get me hugely discounted designer clothes, and sew up couture items for me. She’d do my waxing at cost price and buy my hair products from the wholesaler. When I moved out of home, she went through her kitchen and stocked me up with utensils, appliances and a fry pan. I was always welcome in their home, and the husband did electrical work for me, fixed my car, and installed my CD player.

I was overwhelmed by their friendship and generosity and I was discouraged as I looked at my own skills: Teaching. Writing. Reading. What could I possibly do for them? This never bothered them, they just appreciated my friendship, but it bothered me, until I spoke to dad.

He reflected on a couple who was able to help him when he was younger. He was never able to repay them, but, down the track, he was in a position to help others when they had need. Effectively, he paid it forward.

In recent years, I have had many opportunities to help others in various ways. When they say they ‘owe me,’ I remember the friends who did so much for me, and I tell them they owe me nothing; that one day they can pay it forward.