Thursday, November 17, 2005

Disconnected

I got invited to a Pampered Chef show tonight. I don't have anything against Pampered Chef, but I don't buy anything anymore. The only time I go to a show is if the hostess says, "you don't have to buy anything, just come to hang out." So, I went to hang out.

I need to stop doing this. There aren't many times I feel more disconnected from people than when I am at a home show.

To be clear, I own several Pampered Chef items. Some are lovely, and some are junk. But, there is nothing else that I need from Pampered Chef. And the thing is, there isn't even anything that I want.

So the question the consultant asked EVERY PERSON this evening was: "If money was no object, what item would you want from the catalog?" I hated the question, because the honest answer is "nothing." I really and truly don't want anything from the Pampered Chef catalog.

I just don't fit.

It seemed like everyone wanted something. At the Pampered Chef show it was pottery to match the rug they just bought. At the Longaberger show it was a $70 basket to hide their tissue box in. At the Stampin Up show it was the spider stamp - sold only as part of a set. A spider stamp... so they could decorate Halloween candy holders for all their kids' classmates.

Lots of folks out there will say that there is nothing wrong with having nice things if you can afford them. But my immediate response is, there's nothing wrong with not having them either. It seems like the prevailing wisdom is "if you can afford it, there's no reason not to." But in Christian circles, it is disappointing to run into that kind of thinking over and over again.

I can honestly say that I have little desire for many of the things that everyone around me seems so hungry to get. And maybe this is a function of our financial state at this time. I'm a stay-at-home mom whose husband teaches for a living. We didn't clear $50,000 last year. And we really lacked for nothing. We are amazingly blessed. We have everything we need... and a whole lot that we don't. Yet we don't have a "nice" stereo system. We have a kitchen floor that is curling up in the corners. Our screen doors should have been replaced last year. Our TV is small compared to most. We don't have cable. We don't have leather furniture. We don't wear designer clothes. Our van is growing increasingly rusty. Two of our kids share a bedroom (I know... that's, like, child abuse, I think.)

And these are all fine with me. Comparatively speaking, I have way more than 98% of the world's population... WAY more. I sleep in a warm house every night (in the winter that is...it's cool in the summer.) I have multiple outfits that I can choose to wear every day... if I can keep them all clean... in my washer that has a supply of clean water whenever I want it, and hot water at that. I use my microwave several times a day to make myself a cup of tea. I can drive wherever I want, whenever I want. I have a college degree and would be reasonably assured of finding a decent job should my husband ever lose his. We have health insurance that enables us to have medicine when we need it for a very fair price. I plant flowers in my yard every year just for fun. I have photos of my kids to document all the stages of their lives. I own a gadget that is used once a year (Christmas time) for the express purpose of squirting out fancy cookie shapes. I have no less than 10 Bibles in my house and could go buy another one tomorrow if I so desired. My children have toys all over our house. I have a stove to cook dinner on and a refrigerator to keep my leftovers in. I type into a computer so I can express myself on a blog, just for fun. My kids eat protein every day.

And I am supposed to get to a point in my life where, if money were no object, I would actually want more stuff I don't need simply because money was no object?

I say all of this because I just wanted to scream tonight. I just wanted to scream. The message was "wanting more stuff is okay if you have money." And the reality, for me, is that if I had more money, I would likely find ways to spend it on nicer stuff for me. The reality is that I judge people too much: pointing my finger at others and saying "you have too much stuff." But I tend to forget the reality that most of the rest of the world could point to me and say the same thing.

It's just that I don't want to forget that last bit of reality. And I don't want more stuff.

And going to parties like that doesn't help.

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Linda said...

I'm sooo with you, Lori; thanks for writing this. I just say "no" to all of these types of party invitations anymore because of exactly the feelings you described. I never feel like I fit in at things like this. Often, I think about how I could find the same thing much cheaper at a discount store and not pay for just a name. It's just the subtle, or not so subtle, ways that materialism invades our lives and churches. Why can everyone make time for a party where you're expected to spend money and ooh and aah over stuff, but yet people don't have time just to get together and hang out? I also find it hard not to judge other believers when it comes to these types of material issues. It is so easy to take for granted all of the things we do have and forget how little others have, like you said. Thanks for writing this!

Thu Nov 17, 11:39:00 PM  
Anonymous mom a said...

Yes; there are definitely some ways in which you are very much like your mama.
I'm proud of you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fri Nov 18, 03:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is important to keep the U.S. economy alfoat by buying as much stuff as I can possibly afford. I see myself as a martyr for the rest of the belivers so the GNP stays strong in this country. I make even less than Paul but I do my best to "take one for the team" of believers that I cherish. So if you ever see me lugging home a plasma screen TV it is not because I truely want it, it is because I just want to help the country

Fri Nov 18, 09:36:00 AM  
Anonymous mom a said...

You know, Lori, women from the Community of the Cross used to get together once or twice a month to play Trivial Pursuit (sp?). Why not do something like that? The total cost was the price of some soda (pop) and chips, and the younger mothers got to play "grown-up" for a few hours.

Fri Nov 18, 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger Patti said...

I don't know where I stand on this one... I mean, I am all for buying nice things if you can afford it. But why is the question never: "If money were no object, what five charities would you donate to?" Sure, I find newer, nicer things for myslef when I can afford it. But I usually give away more than I can afford because otheriwse, I'll forget that last reality too.

Fri Nov 18, 11:15:00 PM  
Blogger Addie said...

I LOVE this post Lori!!! What perfect timing too for you to write it. Right before Thanksgiving when we try to be thankful and before the holidays when we go into full force "glutton" shopping. Thank you so much for the reminders of what a true blessing really is!

Sat Nov 19, 09:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lori, when I read your blog I thought of your mother right away. You share many of the same attitudes and values. As I reflect on life and what is important, stuff just doesn't rise to the top of the list. Actually, my goal is to clear out the extraneous stuff of my life and to clear out the unused things to assure that it gets to people who truly need it and not just want it. Marcy

Sat Nov 19, 11:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Blue Cross of California said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Tue Jan 17, 11:34:00 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Lori,
I know this post is old and so I don't know if you'll read this comment or not, but I just came across your blog from Boomama's and as I read I keep finding myself saying "Yeah!" (I mean YEAH!, exactly!)
I hate those parties too because I feel like I have to buy something to be nice and help the hostess and the party-lady. It seems like everyone has these parties to "help" each other, and everyone goes to these parties to "help" each other, and no one even wants most of what they buy. We got married last year and we're trying to pay off our house before we have kids, so the wasted money is a dumb idea.
It's really sad to look around at all the people spending money just to spend money and have the newest and best when they could have so much more peace by being out of debt being able to have money when there are things they actually want. The society is just credit-crazy and it's sad.
Sorry this is long! Thanks for your blog, it's very funny and still makes me think! I'll be back! Laura

Wed Mar 28, 02:48:00 PM  

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