On New Year’s Day, 2018, my No Shopping Year began. (If you want to read more about my No Shopping Year, you can go here.)
On that first day of the year, I spent about an hour unsubscribing to hundreds (OK, more like 50 or so, but it felt like hundreds) of retail email lists. I spent another hour un-bookmarking online shopping websites. I spent a third hour going through just one small part of my closet, quickly filling 2 big garbage bags of clothes I don’t wear, to donate to the local rescue mission.
And I spent a fourth hour staring at a blank laptop screen on my new blog, trying to come up with the words to explain why I’m starting to live life as a minimalist and why I won’t be shopping for a year.
Over the years, I’ve had a slew of false starts trying to live more simply, but I always seemed to fall back into bad habits. I was still very emotionally attached to the things I owned, and I wasn’t able to get rid of pretty much anything, even though I kept accumulating things that sat in boxes or drawers or closets, no longer used.
Growing up, my parents called me a “pack rat”– I definitely lived up to that nickname. I wasn’t a hoarder, but I did keep a whole lot of stuff around. As if that wasn’t enough, whenever I was bored or not feeling well due to my chronic illness, I would shop online for stuff.
I saw my online shopping as a “hobby” at the time, but I know now that it was an addiction, pure and simple. It was the same emotional cycle every time. I would get a thrill hunting for that great bargain, I would get another thrill clicking the button to buy the thing, and then I would get an even bigger thrill when that thing arrived in the mail.
But the thrill didn’t last. Shortly after receiving the item, I would feel guilty for spending money on it, and although I enjoyed it for a few days, the newness wore off and I found myself back online, searching for the next bargain—and for that next thrill. I knew what I was doing was unhealthy, but it was a vicious cycle that I didn’t know how to break.
I’m about 1.5 months into my No Shopping Year, and I have to tell you– the addiction is hard to crack. I have to be vigilant about my internet usage, making sure that my fingers on my mouse pad don’t go on automatic pilot and navigate to a previously used shopping website, or a friend’s shopping group on social media.
But I also know that Jesus is in the habit of breaking the chains that bind us. He freed people from the demons that plagued them. And as both human and God, he knew what it felt like to be tempted– so he can relate to us and help us in our own temptation:
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)
Every day, I approach God’s throne of grace in order to receive mercy and grace to help me as I fight against temptation.
What are the chains that bind you today? Jesus is in the business of freedom. Approach God’s throne of grace. Know that God gives you mercy and grace to help you in your time of need.