So today marks almost the half-way point in our One Month Without (buying anything) challenge. There’s been a lot of reactions as people find out what we’re doing. I’ve had people question my motives, my resolve, and my sanity. I’ve had people feel inspired and write to tell me how their lives were being impacted in small ways as well. I’ve had people totally get it and people completely not get it at all. I’ve been encouraged by responses, and I’ve been mortified at other reactions that indicate just how far removed our culture is from being able to distinguish between a need and a want. (No, seriously, you don’t NEED coffee every single day. It is okay to run out and not immediately buy more. And with our schedules, I think I might classify as an expert opinion on the topic of caffeine consumption). But I didn’t do any of this for anyone else. I did it for me. For us. For my heart.
The first week we didn’t feel a lack of anything. We were fed Thanksgiving dinner by family. We had stocked up on fresh produce, and enjoyed a nice anniversary steak dinner. Week two was when the beginnings of that lack started to creep in. We ran out of coffee. We ate beans and rice for lunch three days in a row. (Not because we didn’t have better food, but because I’m mixing up “good” meals with less exciting ones to make sure we always have options). I rationed our fresh fruit into three big bowls to make sure we didn’t eat it all at once and neglect the canned/frozen stuff. I made cookie dough to freeze for when it’s our turn to bring snacks to Life Group at the end of the month because the eggs were more than half gone already. (Thinking that far ahead in terms of food hurts my head). We had a brief scare when we thought we were on our last bar of soap before I found two more hiding under the sink in a forgotten corner. (Seriously, so many good things and blessings hiding out of my sight every day). I got sick, and couldn’t run out and buy cough drops, so instead made my own remedy with hot water, lemon juice, and honey. Week two was when we actually had to be inconvenienced. There was at least one occasion where Nick said to me, “Laura, don’t you think that constitutes a need?” And I replied with, “only in a first world country”. But we made it through the week and were only slightly inconvenienced.
Week two is also when I started to live in a daily, conscious awareness of the goodness we have as I watched it diminish more and more without instantly being replenished. I’m not an overly emotional person (unless you count passion, because it takes very little to set me off on some cause or another), but week two is when I sat in my kitchen preparing a meal of beans and rice for the next day and subsequent lunches and it hit me. As I made what Nick called “poor people food” or “big family food”, I paused and looked around. There were left over shrimp frying on the stove in butter from our anniversary dinner, and a marinaded steak awaiting the BBQ (also left over from our anniversary dinner) about to be cut in two to share. There I was sitting researching good bean recipes on my Macbook while Nick stood in the corner of the kitchen surfing the internet on his iPad. As we sat there with our name-brand electronics preparing an amazing dinner, I looked over at the pot of beans and rice I knew we would be eating for the next few days. And it hit me. I didn’t cry, but I almost did. How friggin’ blessed are we? How wonderful to be together, preparing a delicious meal, in our home. Things I would have taken for granted or simply said, “Yes, of course I’m thankful for all this.” But that pot of beans and rice stood out in stark contrast begging me to really FEEL the thankfulness.
Maybe we are crazy. Maybe it’s silly to make yourself eat beans when you have better stuff in the freezer that you’re saving for later simply because you refuse to purchase groceries. But if this is crazy, then I like it. I LIKE being truly thankful for my meals. I like not taking for granted the fact that I can dig under the counter and find multiple bars of soap I didn’t even know were there. And maybe I’m also crazy for being a little sad that this fast from consumerism is already almost half done. I don’t want to go back to reality where I stop so acutely noticing God in the little things.
My perception is changing. My prayer priorities are changing. My heart is changing. I pray that it continues to change over the next couple of weeks in a real, and deep, and permanent way. God, may we never have so much that we stop regularly looking to You with hope and gratitude in our hearts. May we never have so much that it owns our attention and steals it from You. May we never have so much that we forget that we actually have much, much more than enough.
PS: And lest you think I am mature or holy or any such silly notions for praying such a prayer, please know it scares the pants off of me to pray something like that. But, some things have to be said, even if you’re scared to say them.