This week my sweet little 8 year old daughter asked me if I would take her Black Friday shopping. EIGHT YEAR OLD. When I was eight the only shopping I did was back to school shopping once a year. Before I start sounding like one of those people who always talks about how times have changed since I was a kid...let's move on to my answer.
"Um, no. Absolutely not. And why do you want to go Black Friday shopping?" Perhaps this was not the kindest way to phrase my answer knowing that my daughter's love language is gifts, but I was in shock.
Her response? "Why not?"
Before this turned into a stalemate conversation I took a deep breath. I told her, "If you can tell me exactly what you want to buy on Black Friday and what chores you will do to earn the money, I will take you."
Her answer? Shrug, eyeroll, "Nevermind."
Checkmate. I win! Or did I?
Here's the thing. God has spent a lot of time on me taking away the value I put on things. I am happy to live in a 2 bedroom even though most of my friends have 4 -5 bedroom homes. I am happy to give away things I don't use anymore because I no longer live by the premise that I might use it one day. (If I might just use it one day, why not give it away to someone who could use it lots of days.) Really though, it's not about possessions but rather distractions. The more stuff I have to take care of the less time I have to focus on God.
Before you think I am condemning you for having a large house, or stuff to put in it, let me put your mind at rest. I have a friend with a large home. She loves cleaning it, in fact, God speaks to her through cleaning products. I won't try to do it justice with an example let's just suffice it to say that I now have a holy experience every time I look at bleach after hearing her cleaning revelations. She also has people over to her house to talk about God. She loves to entertain and teach. God has blessed her with "stuff" to minister to others. I appreciate this about her and Him.
My job as a parent is to instill a healthy relationship with "stuff" in my daughter. Shopping is one way I can do this. When we go shopping and she wants something I ask questions.
Why do you want it?
Where will you put it?
What will you get rid of that you don't use in order to have this?
How will we pay for it?
Do we need to sacrifice buying something else in order to buy this?
We have a rule at our house. If you buy something, you get rid of something. It helps keep us honest to buy things we need and not just things we want and it also clears the clutter. We also try to have a healthy view of working for things. If our children don't want to do extra chores for it, they don't want it that bad. The important thing is that we let the kids make that decision. We ask the questions and they decide if the sacrifice is worth the new thing.
Mark 4:19 says, "but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful."
As an adult I have to ask myself if a desire for new "stuff" will get in the way of my relationship with God. Will it put me in debt causing me undue stress that I eventually get angry at God for not solving when really it was my sin of coveting and acting on that by purchasing things I couldn't afford in the first place? Will it take away from spending time with God or is it something I can enjoy in His presence? Will it take away from my relationships with others when God has called me to be the love of Jesus to others?
I know these are some pretty deep questions to ask when it comes to shopping but shopping shouldn't be a compulsion. It shouldn't be a hobby. Maybe, just maybe, shopping should be about stewarding our resources well and we should labor over each purchase until we hear a resounding yes from heaven.
If I am being honest Black Friday shopping is too tempting for me. I start loving the stuff and the price and start thinking of who I can give that item to that I just got for 70% off, instead of thoughtfully thinking about the person I am giving a gift to and what they may actually like. Black Friday causes me to get up early for a deal because they may run out. I buy dumb things like pickle ornaments and another fuzzy blanket. The BOGO deals turn into one for you and one for me deals. I get greedy and lusty for stuff I don't need all in the name of a good deal. It leaves a girl crying out, "GOOD GOD, help me want you as much as I want stuff".
You see Black Friday brings out the truth in me, or perhaps it reveals the lies in this world. The need to fill up our lives with stuff in order to feel complete. The searching for earthy items that will perish to fill up an empty space that can only be filled by an eternal God. Satan comes to kill, steal and destroy and that always starts with an attack on the heart and a planting of false desire that separates us from God. It's been that way since Adam and Eve in the garden.
God has trusted me with my daughter, part of my job as a Jesus loving parent is to help her navigate a stuff loving world with a Jesus loving heart. So, NO, I will not be taking my 8 year old shopping on Black Friday.
I'm just a girl, standing before my God, knowing that He loves me and wanting others to know that love too.