Ever since posting my Catching Fire post, my heart has been so heavy. I’m convicted of my materialistic mindset and our culture’s consumerism. It’s even more apparent this time of year. I read one statistic that said 11 billion dollars would be spent on Black Friday. Billion. I realize that much of Black Friday is actually wise spending. If you need something and it’s greatly discounted anyway, then go for it. But much of Black Friday isn’t wise spending. And much of our culture isn’t about buying what we need.
Please don’t feel condemnation from me here—I just want to share where my heart is. I’m guilty just as much as anyone. God has been dealing with me about this for years. If you’ve followed me for a few years, you’ve been through my Crazy Love moments, my Radical moments, my 7 moments, my blood:water belt moments. All of these have been steps of letting go of what I “need” and learning to give out of our excess.
I can’t say I have it mastered. I still buy things I don’t need and my kids are spoiled. But there’s been progress and this is a journey.
But lately, I feel convicted about the things we do buy and at what expense to others they come. Tsh’s post about chocolate before Halloween may have been the catalyst. She explained that much of the chocolate we buy is because of forced child labor. CHILDREN are working cocoa farms so *I* can enjoy my Reese’s cups and M&M’s. This is not a movie. It’s not pretend. It’s real children in real places being exploited for my personal benefit.
And it’s not just chocolate. It’s our coffee, our clothes, our shoes, our purses—so many things. And y’all, it makes my heart so, so much. My purchases are hurting God’s people. I don’t care if I never look them in the face or know a name. My purchases matter. We hold so much power in our hands as consumers and what is our power doing? Making slaves of others. There is no other way to say it. It’s not being dramatic. It’s not guilt-tripping anyone. That is the truth.
And so here I am so devastated and Christmas comes along. Our list is like anyone’s—full of all sorts of things. And hear me—I so believe in giving others gifts just as Christ is a gift to us. Christmas is a wonderful time to remember what Christ did for us and a chance to show our loved ones how much we care. But are we hurting others far away in an attempt to show love to those close to us?
So here I go, it’s Christmas season. Tsh posted her ethical shopping guide and today is #FairTuesday where it’s encouraged to to buy ethical, fair trade items. I’m excited.
But guys? I don’t know how else to say it. Very, very little of what’s out there are viable options to give to our family members.
Most of what you’ll find are scarves, jewelry, tote bags and T-shirts. While I LOVE most of that stuff, my father-in-law doesn’t. My male cousins don’t. My kids don’t. My aunt doesn’t. Heck, even I am at my limit of scarves and tote bags.
The big companies that DO offer things that are ethical and interesting to them are so overpriced that there’s no way we could afford Christmas!
I kind of threw my hands up this weekend and concluded that our culture is just simply not there. We have put ourselves in such a terrible predicament that even when we want to buy ethically, the options are just too slim or expensive.
This morning though, my heart was just aching as I looked over the options again. Lord, what am I supposed to do? I was reading over at FairTuesday.com and they are simply asking for one—ONE—gift to be bought ethically and explain how much of a good difference that makes. One bracelet can provide clean water for TWO MONTHS in Guatemala. One dress can send a child to school for an entire month in India. So this is how God answered me: Bring me your fishes and loaves and I will make much of it. From five fish and two loaves, I fed 5,000. I can do much with your small obedience.
I cannot buy every single gift and everything I need like I want, but I can buy something and God can make much of it. God is in the multiplying business and if I can just make one good purchase, he can multiply the affects far beyond what I can imagine. It won’t free all the slaves, but it might free one. And that matters–it matters so much.
So, I conclude urging myself and all of us to get informed. Understand at what expense your purchases come to others. I still don’t have a grasp on everything that is “bad” and what is “good.” But if we find something good, even if the change is small, do it and let God multiply.
A few resources I’ve found are:
Please, I’m just learning–if you have resources to share with me to learn more, do so and perhaps share this post so we can all learn together.