My entire life, I have hated to shop. My husband used to doubt me on this but once, he found my diary from 4th grade (and read it, of course). I had written an entire entry about how my mom made me go to the mall and how much I absolutely hated it. Fourth grade! So, I really mean it when I say I have always hated shopping.
My shopping experiences rarely start out so negatively. I somehow convince myself that I'd like to take a little trip to <Target, the grocery store, the mall>. When I arrive, I calmly walk through the aisles, casually gazing at the many items available for purchase. But soon, the panic sets in. I wonder if I should buy something. But if I'm going to spend money, I have to get the best deal for my dollar. So I start comparing. Then I start questioning if I really need whatever product I'm considering. I mean, I was perfectly happy with my material possessions before I walked into that stupid store - why am I suddenly convincing myself that I have to have more? What would Michael think if he were here with me? (I have since learned that Michael would say, "it's a little thing, honey, just get it if you want it.") So now I'm persuading myself that Michael would persuade me to buy it, which must make it ok, and I like it, right? And it's not like I'm blowing alot of money here or something (we're talking less than $20).
But what about those little children dying in Africa? How can I waste $4 on a box of cookies and $8 on a skirt at Goodwill when that $12 could buy a medicine kit for those selfless doctors working in 3rd-world countries? So now I'm faced with the choice of saving a sick child or enjoying a box of cookies. I start sweating in the store and looking around frantically as if my fairy godmother is going to appear and tell me what to do. My daughter looks at me in confusion, as if to say, "why did you bring me here if you're not going to buy me something?" I suddenly feel rushed, anxious, frustrated, selfish, and angry. I wildly grab for the nearest product, head to what inevitably is the longest checkout line possible, during which I seriously debate dropping the item and running out of the store, complete my unnecessary transaction, then cry while I drive myself home, filled with utter remorse.
This happens to me all the time. And it's not just about me spending money. I felt this way in 4th grade, when my mom was the one making the purchase. I feel this way when I visit my mother-in-law (a store manager at Sears) and she offers to buy me some new 'whatever' that's on sale. I walk into stores, and I just feel completely overwhelmed with the material 'stuff' that's there. I feel sick to my stomach when I consider taking more for myself, knowing that so many people in this world just want to have enough to eat today. And the irony is that I'm not even a compassionate person!
I know this is weird, and I want to find a balance. Ultimately, I think I just want to know that I'm living deliberately. That I'm not taking more than I need or keeping more than I should, but rather, that I'm being a good steward of what I have and giving generously where I can. Aristotle wrote on virtues, that a virtue is only proven when put to the test. In other words, I cannot be called brave until I have been put in a situation where I am tempted to run in fear.
So here is my test of courage: go boldly into those shopping malls, be intentional about my purchases, be confident about my life.