Living modestly is something that I can't really boast about doing. I sometimes try to because I don't own that new coat, or that new gadget, or I don't buy real leather. But the truth is, if I was good with my money, I probably would buy those things. I don't own a car, I use an LG Rumor, & the only time I buy articles of clothing unthrifted, they are almost always a really good sale. But I still never have money for anything it seems and there are always things that I am coveting that other people have that I just simply can't afford. So I use this cop-out that I just like to "live more modestly"... so here is my confession.
& the time has come. I knew this day would come ever since I heard that another camp counsellor at Sandy Hill, Lizzie, was doing a fashion-fast - she was going one entire year without purchasing any articles of clothing. When I first heard about that, I thought it was something I could never do. But it was the same thought that gave me the inkling that someday I would be convicted to do the same. You're always convicted to do things that are hard... relatively difficult for you. It reminds me of my catholic friends growing up who would be like "for Lent this year, I'm giving up... BROCCOLI." Like... Joke's. On. You, Jesus.
But today was the day that conviction took a strong hold on my heart. I borrowed Blue Like Jazz (get it!) from my awesome possum Community Group leaders, Scott&Jo-Lee, and the author, Donald Miller, is so much like me it kinda blows my mind. Not in every sense, but in so many, do I feel like he is revealing more layers of me than I've had revealed in so long. It kind stings but in some ways, it is so relieving just because at least now I know someone else understands... that I'm not totally crazy. Today I wrapped up the chapter on Community, and started reading the chapter about Money. I predicted it would be a bad one.
& I was right.
A few weeks ago I took the members class at Westside and of course, on the topic of becoming a member of a church, you have to talk about the T-word... tithing. [insert collar-tugging-tongue-sticking-out-face]. I raised my hand as a challenge to Pastor Chad: "I feel like I'm not really a part of this conversation. As a student, all the money I have is the governments... if I'm not technically making money, how am I suppose to reasonably tithe off of what I'm not making?"
His response was really similar to the response that Donald Miller's pastor had for him when he was struggling with the same thing: "When we do what God wants us to do, we are blessed, we are spiritually healthy. God wants us to give a portion of our money to His work on earth. By setting aside money, you are trusting God to provide."
Essentially, it's not about the amount. It's about the sacrificial attitude. The way Chad said it made my heart sink a little. He brought up the fact that you might buy a few lattes or meals-out throughout the week... you might splurge on yourself a little with a glass of wine with a friend. If you can do that with this money, then you can give to God. If I truly believed that everything I have is ultimately God's anyways, how can I spend another dime on something I don't need?
I know that my $10/week isn't going to make much of any substantial difference in Westside's ministry. Not on the surface anyways. But that $10/week (& I'm just using $10 because it's probably about how much I spend on my extra-hot-no-foam-soy-sugar-free-cinnamon-dolce-americano-misto's... YAP, that's my drink) is going to make so much of a difference in God's kingdom both by how my heart is changed in the process of giving with a thankful heart, and in the way that God's provision can be displayed in our acts of faith towards things like money.
Miller talks about his friend, Penny, who did the year long fashion-fast and it clicked that it was something I needed to do. And I am not posting this for a pat on the back or something. I don't want that at all because I realize that will completely cancel out the purpose behind it - it's for His glory, not mine. It's not some kind of martyrdom... & even if it was, I don't think the martyr wants glory to be given to anyone but the person they are being martyrd for. But, excuse me... I digress. The reason I write this on my public blog is because I want to be held accountable. If I keep it to myself or only a few people, it seems less likely that I will stick to it.
I've learned about discipline in the last 6 weeks giving up gluten and [almost] dairy (okay I cheated on gluten like twice). It's so hard to say no to those wonderful and delicious looking things you're so use to eating. It takes discipline to say no. But I've learned something about discipline - it actually feels really great. It's inspired me to try discipline in other areas.
My point is, I am crap with money. I am on a student loan, and budgeting to the best of my abilities, but my money goes "down the drain" on things I don't need, and they are always things for myself. My giving ability is incredibly limited and I'll be the first to admit it. I feel like I am constantly receiving and never giving and how is this any benefit to the kingdom?
So I am taking this conviction as an opportunity to do something. Starting January 1st (and NO, it's not a new years resolution... it's just a First of the month thing...) I will:
- not buy any article of clothing, including socks, hats, wallets, shoes, jewelry, for SIX-MONTHS (I could try a year but I feel like if my goal is more realistic, I'll be more successful)
- not buy any more espresso drinks for SIX-MONTHS (drip or tea is okay & that's simply because "coffee dates" are important for community and friendship and those drinks are cheaper alternatives)
- give more. to the church, to others, and to the needy. I haven't decided what that will look numerically like but it's in the works.
So here is my declaration. My mom is in complete disbelief. Just to show how reluctant I am to actually do this, after I read this chapter, I went out and bought a pair of pants... haha like in such panic that I am not going to be able to get them after January 1st. I texted mom to tell her about my idea and her exact response: "Hmmm... okai... whateva"
Clearly she's not buying it. And I don't blame her. My past has shown how terrible I am at money. Money, more notably, sacrifice, giving, commitment, and discipline.
So here goes nothing...