Things I’ve learned from Killing Consumerism #10 – The joy of receiving

I’ve always loved receiving gifts, but I’ve noticed over the last few years that the enjoyment has worn off. I loved the thrill of being surprised with something I really wanted, but, as I got older, I found that people seemed to miss the mark. I slowly, and somewhat cynically, lowered my expectations.

Just this week, I suddenly realized why.

I had lost the art of wanting, and so had lost the joy of receiving. It is dizzying to think of the speed at which I purchased things to meet my every whim. Before anyone had time to think to buy something for me, I had already bought it for myself.CJ3JXUcWoAAZIaE

This year has been different. At first I noticed it slowly: the joy of a beautiful candle as a housewarming gift; two friends who bought me a necklace because they knew I wouldn’t buy it myself. But then, on Friday night, it all hit home with sparkling clarity.

I was out for dinner and got a text from mum saying they’d bought me something. I dropped past their house on the way home.

They’d bought me Harper Lee’s ‘new’ book, Go set a Watchman. I was thrilled, and touched and blessed. And suddenly it hit me. If it weren’t for my resolution this year, I would have pre-ordered the book before it even hit the shelves. In holding back, and depriving myself, I’m creating room for others to bless me. And I’m rediscovering the joy of receiving.

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Things I’ve learned from killing consumerism #4 – Sometimes I really, really want to break the rules

20150310_170422‘Umm, what is that?’ my sister asked me when she came to my house for the first time. ‘You’re not leaving that there are you?’

I have a floor mat. It’s pretending to be a rug, but it’s really just a mat. My housemate and I like it. The colour works in the room and, let’s be honest, the fact that everyone else seems to hate it makes us stubbornly like it more.

But I’ll admit, a month in to the mat pretending to be a rug, and it is starting to wear on me. The truth is, it does look like a panting drop sheet. It’s cream so it gets dirty within a week, and you can’t vacuum it because the vacuum just sucks it up. I’ve machine washed it twice already and it’s too heavy to iron so it just sits on the floor in a rumpled mess.

Whether we like it or not, its days are numbered.

And then I found a rug at IKEA. Like, an actual rug. One that would be vacuumable and that had colours that would work in the house. It was $99. Normally it would be a no brainer. It’s the smart choice. It’s the perfect replacement. It’s what would keep our feet off the cold floor in winter.

But I promised I wasn’t going to buy anything new. So really it should be a no brainer. But I’m agonizing.

Remembering that your one wish has been granted

wishThere seems to be something in our human nature that drives us to always want more.

I’m an Australian. I have a job and a house and a bank account. Already I’m far wealthier than about 95% of the world’s population. You’d think I wouldn’t find anything else to want. And yet, as you could easily predict I find myself daily wanting things I don’t have.

Have you ever thought about what you’d ask for if you could have one wish? Anything? As big or crazy or costly as you want? What would you ask for?

I’ve often been struck by King David’s words in Psalm 27:4 “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.”

If David, with all his wealth and power could have ONE thing, it would be to dwell in the presence of God all the days of his life.

It sounds like a pretty good one thing. In fact, if I didn’t already have it, signed, sealed and delivered, I’d probably be keen to ask for that too!

And there is the problem and the solution all in one. I have been given the greatest, most amazing, all surpassing gift that could ever possibly exist within this universe, and somehow I take it for granted and I pursue lesser things.

I have the one thing that David wanted. Maybe that needs to be enough.

When I don’t get what I want and it feels like an existential crisis.

fussing-crying-complaining_2397598There’s something I want. I don’t need it, but the more I think about having it, the more I want it. It costs a lot of money, but last night, it looked like God was going to let me have it. It looked like I was going to be blessed with a really good deal, and like the spoilt child who suddenly finds a lot of love in their hearts for their parents when they’re getting what they want, I found it easy to praise God for His goodness to me.

Suddenly life was looking good. I felt myself basking in God’s favour. I saw God blessing me even though I didn’t deserve it.

And then this morning, it was all gone, and sadly so was my joy; and tragically so was my trust in God’s goodness.

It reminds me of this quote from the funny clip below by Louis CK, which is sadly far too relevant for my generation: ‘How quickly the world owes us something we knew existed only 10 seconds ago.’

How quickly my hope in God becomes dependent on Him doing things my way.

How quickly I allow material goods to have a defining influence on my happiness.

God has blessed me abundantly. But sometimes I don’t get what I want, even when it does seem that He has orchestrated all the stars to align to give it to me. How long will I allow my relationship with him to be dependent on His gifts to me?