Topic Tuesday {Shopping Addiction}

It’s said that all of us are addicted to at least 12 things at any given time.  It’s also said that when we give up one addiction we generally replace it with another.  I’m not sure what I’ve replaced it with, but I know I’ve given one up.  It goes a little something like this.

I am was addicted to shopping.

I hear that’s the first step.  Admitting the problem, that is.  Seeing it.  Recognizing you have one.  Owning it.  Of course, it’s much nicer to make excuses.  To not admit it (even to yourself).

It happened last summer.  6 months ago now.  I had been away, nestled in the woods, for 5 weeks with my boys.  When one is camping something tends to happen to your wardrobe.  You wear the same thing every.single.day.  It already smells of campfire, so why dirty another sweater, y’know?

I spent my mornings running the tree lined paths. (work-out wear.  check.) Much of our days lounging beside the pool.  (bathing suit, cover-up dress, hat.  check)  We spent our nights huddled around campfires with friends roasting marshmellows and reading books and telling tales.  (yoga pants, flannel, sweater.  check.)

After those glorious 5 weeks we returned home.  Home.  Where each of us had our own room.  Home.  Where we could all be in the kitchen without bumping into each other.  Home.  Where we could do laundry every day.  Home.  Where I had a closet bursting at the seams.

I walked into our closet on my first day home and I looked at how tightly everything hung together.  Row upon row of short sleeved, button ups, long sleeved, hoodies, dresses, skirts, jeans, cords, tights, and how my sweaters had spilled over onto the mister’s side cause I had plum run out of room.

Hear me when I say I don’t own overly expensive clothing.  Much of it is thrifted or bought at consignment stores but that wasn’t the point.  It wasn’t the cost of these things that mattered.  It was the excess.  When on earth did I plan on making use of all of this clothing?

It saddened me.  It kind of disgusted me.  A verse popped into my head about having two tunics.  Two?  I had 16.

How did I get here?  I wondered aloud.

I know how.  At least I think I do.  See, shopping is fun!  Perusing aisle after aisle of pretty.  Checking out window after window of arty displays with fun combinations of clothing that I would never come up with on my own.  I loved that stuff.

But there was more.  I’m an artist at the very core of my soul.  I harbour this passion for creativity and expression and even my clothes reflected this.  I’ve always considered that one should never really just get dressed.  One should play dress up.  Mixing and matching and adding and subtracting accessories until you reach your perfect artistic design on the canvas that is your very body.

Plus there’s the very tactile nature of it all.  Feeling the fabrics and hearing the swish of a good trench, the crispness of a new collar, the cozy of just the right sweater and that elusive hunt for the very perfect pair of jeans.

There’s more.  There’s also the thrill of the hunt.  Like (I imagine, anyways) a huntsmen stalking his prey and waiting for just the right moment.  I would scour and dig for that perfect piece at the perfect price and then BAM!  It would be mine.  There’s satisfaction in that.  Finding a burberry in a thrift store or some citizen jeans on the sale rack in just your size.  It feels good.  Well, if you’ve made shopping your life’s mission and acquiring your drug.

I realized this that day, standing there in my closet.  I realized that I had made shopping a past time instead of a necessity.  I had grown my closet to ridiculous proportions.  Surely there are people that could use some of these more than I could.

I prayed right there, aloud in my closet that day.  I asked God to help me.  To change me.  To turn this compulsion that I had to shop into energy better spent elsewhere.  Money better spent elsewhere. Satisfaction found in something greater than the (very temporary) high of a new dress.

I shopped my last in August and I made a pledge to myself.  One school year buying nothing for myself.  Nothing.  There was nothing I could possibly need so surely 10 months could go buy without me purchasing something.  I’m a high challenge person and I knew I couldn’t just ‘kinda stop’ shopping.  I needed a goal.  So I made one.

Two months in my very favourite black boots broke.  The zipper was shot and would cost more to replace than they were worth.  I’d had them for many years and I got them at a consignment store so they were already well worn when they were new to me.  I’ll just get new boots, I told myself.  And I did.  With no guilt because, you see, I made the rules, I can break the rules.

Months went by and I kept praying that God would continue to change my heart.  To open my eyes to the world around me in a new way.  A way that wasn’t about having and getting but about helping and sharing.

In November, 3 months in with only one item purchased, my husband and I started talking about it.  He asked me what the point was.  What the point was?  Well, to try and go a full school year without shopping!  Duh!

He persisted.  But…..why?  So that in a year everything you have will be worn out and while you’ll have saved a bunch of money in that year at the end of it you’ll just go have a big shopping spree?  What’s the point of that?

Do you have a husband that challenges you?  If you do, be so thankful.  Even when you may want to punch him.  I love that he questions me and pushes me to be a better thinker, a better doer and basically a better me than I could be all on my own.  All because he doesn’t hold back.  He asks the hard stuff even when I don’t want the hard stuff to be asked.

I thought on what he had said for a good long time.

But I’m going to pause here and ask my question.  It is, after all, topic tuesday.  So my question today is this:  Do you shop too much?  Do you get a little high off of ‘new’?  It might not be clothes for you but technology or home decor or shoes or cars or vacations?  Do you find yourself spending a lot of your time on it?  Money on it?  Acquiring to excess and not just need?  Or is it just me…

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5 thoughts on “Topic Tuesday {Shopping Addiction}

  1. My answer has to be yes, and to me I’m saddened by the fact that most of the time I do not realize I’m doing it. For me it’s not particularly clothes, but it’s just STUFF in general. A little something extra picked up I’ve picked up at just about every shopping trip. Usually doesn’t cost a whole lot, just something “fun” or practical that comes home and joins the collection of other STUFF that fills our home. Since we had to downsize a bit for our move (going from a 4 bedroom home to a 2 bedroom duplex), I thought I had gotten rid of a LOT. Well, one day I was so overwhelmed going into the bedroom my daughters share, that I went to work and boxed up everything in there that I hadn’t seen them play with in a while. Did it without their knowledge! Boxed it up and put it away in our basement – just to see. Well, it’s been a month and a half since I did that and they have yet to realize or ask for anything that disappeared. Sad that they have so much stuff that they don’t even notice or realize that I eliminated a BIG box of it! Stuff that they squealed with delight over when they received it and a week later is kicked under their bed. Made me realize that I am teaching my children a couple of very poor lessons. 1) I don’t need to take care of the stuff I have because if it breaks I have something else to play with 2) STUFF is important (but yet not so important to take care of it) I’m sure there are other ones in there too, but those are enough for me to get upset at myself. It saddens me even further when I go into the homes of their friends and see even MORE stuff there. So, not only do I give myself that little pat on the back (see, I’m not as bad as THEY are!), but my children are also surrounded by friends who have all this stuff and MORE and so they are discontent because THEY are deprived ALL that stuff. AUGH!!! And yet, I realize that this is a horrible sinful monster that I have had a hand in creating. By my own unconscious actions I have demonstrated time and again that it’s all about STUFF, worthless, cheap STUFF. I’m just praying that my realization of the disservice I am doing my children has not come too late. That I can reign in my impulses and start to live the example that people and service to God and others are MUCH more important than stuff. It will be a daily battle for me.

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  2. Thanks for that, Lara! It’s nice to know we’re in this together 🙂 I think if we live in North America we’re probably all guilty of excess but the beauty of it is that God had placed us here in this time for a reason. He’s also constantly working on our hearts so we don’t need to feel shame for what we’ve done, we simply need to repent receive his grace and forgiveness. Because he DOES forgive!
    Our hearts are all idol factories wanting to worship and so often we misplace this worship to stuff instead of Him. This is where I found myself and I’m so glad that conviction came to my heart so that I could seek his forgiveness and change my ways.
    You’re right about us teaching our children by our actions. So let’s teach our children what’s really important! Giving, sharing, loving and encouraging others. Sure, this may involve “stuff” but it’s out of a right heart that these actions flow.
    Happy battling, dear friend! Remember, the biggest battle is already won 🙂

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  3. In a recent Bible study at church there was a verse that really struck me (and I’m trying to relocate it – just got the entire study info from Pastor again to see if I can find it). It was talking about how it is OK to enjoy those things in life that God has blessed us with. I guess I need to find the balance with using what we have been blessed with wisely. Thanks for your support on this! I like having someone challenge me to think and evaluate why I do what I do. 🙂

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  4. I know I struggle with that, Lara. Really being okay with being blessed. It seems so unfair. But I’m learning and practicing thankfulness and joy in what we have instead of feeling off put by having so much. Also, learning to live a bit more simply and share 🙂 So glad to be a challenge for you, cuz!

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