Day 4 of Kate’s Live Second journey. Sign up to follow as Kate and 14 other bloggers dare to Live Second for 60-Days-of-Second. Start your own journey and get the Live Second book in stores December 9. I have an addiction. Like all addictions, it's ugly. When I write it you're going to make some judgments about me, no matter how hard you try not to. No matter how hard you try to remember that we all have our baggage and that Christ died to save me, when I say,
"I am addicted to having and wanting expensive things,"
some presumptions are going to force their way into your minds.
You might presume that I grew up in privilege, and in a sense, you'd be right. I've learned that "privilege" is enormously subjective, but I've also learned that the suburb in north Raleigh where I grew up places me in the very upper echelon of global society. Maybe even American society.
I got a car when I turned 16, and my parents paid for it. When I crashed it the following year I got another car. I traveled a lot; I went to France on an exchange trip when I was in the 7th grade and to the Bahamas for a family wedding when I was in the 11th. I had nice prom dresses that I didn't pay for, and, while I still have a sizeable student loan, my parents paid for three-quarters of my private 4-year college education. This was absolutely the norm in the community where I grew up. My family was not wealthier than my friends' families - in fact, we had a lot less than some of them.
I've never struggled with anger, alcohol, unhealthy relationships, substance abuse, gossip, or eating disorders, but I struggle against materialism and consumerism still.
After five years in full-time ministry. After five over-seas mission trips which exposed me to third-world poverty. Three years after God gave me an enormous burden for cross-cultural missions. After three years of moving towards minimalism, three years of deliberately increasing my giving. After years of living meagerly on one income with 2 kids (and one on the way), it's lurking under there - in my sinful parts like a dark, dirty cancer.
A.W. Tozer wrote this about sin, specifically materialism and greed:
"The ancient curse will not go out painlessly; the tough old miser within us will not lie down and die obedient to our command. He must be torn out of our heart like a plant from the soil; he must be extracted in agony and blood like a tooth from the jaw. He must be expelled from our soul by violence as Christ expelled the money changers from the temple."
This is true of all sin, and it is at once terribly depressing and wonderfully encouraging.
It's depressing because it hurts. It's depressing because it's exhausting. It's depressing because we don't ever get to stop fighting. It's depressing because we might never stop wanting whatever terrible thing it is that we want. (What is it for you?)
But it's wonderful because we are not alone. This addiction, this struggle, this desire that will. not. go. away. is what Paul was talking about when he wrote, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."
It's wonderful because Paul is a pillar of the Christian faith; he wrote 13 books of the Bible. He served God so fearlessly and faithfully that when we read accounts of his life and faith he almost sounds superhuman. It's wonderful because, as Doug writes in Live Second, "The mark of a follower of Jesus, of one who lives Second, is not perfection (though that will come in the end); it is the fight, the struggle to turn the tides of our desires toward the Maker of our souls."
I recently wrote a post about how much I LOVE living in a teeny, tiny house - how it is one of my new favorite things. There are a lot of surprising, magical reasons, but upon further reflection, I think one I didn't list in my post was that it keeps me fighting. It's not a bloody, battle-weary kind of fighting; it's a peaceful, joyful, falling-in-love-with-my-cozy-home kind of fighting. The tiny house forces me to do that which I know I SHOULD BE DOING anyway, and they payoff for the fight is nothing short of miraculous. Deep, abiding contentment. I love this little home more than any other place we've ever lived.
I'm at peace today, despite my dirty little longing for fancy clothes and a new car. I have peace because God is huge and vast and omnipotent and His selflessness and generosity in me is enough to conquer the selfishness hiding there a million times over.
His forgiveness is complete, perfect, enough (for my addiction, and for yours). He's on my side. He's for me. He's with me (and you). He's my shield and my sword and my portion in the fight. And His grace is sufficient, Hallelujah.