I own a $100 pair of shoes.
These are my favorite shoes and they match all my outfits. There are many clothes hanging in my closet, all of which I enjoy wearing. Many of them were bought brand new at a secondhand store for a fraction of the price, but shopping binges are how I ended up with most of the clothes.
Living over seas has been stressful for me. My husband and I have had weeks of intense discussions, and often in the midst of arguments and adjusting to life in another country, repressed memories from childhood have surfaced. My mind goes back to the times when my mother called me stupid, and other hurtful things, words which have damaged my thoughts and my views of who God made me to be. My heart aches as I relive these memories and see them surface in my marriage, parenting, and relationship with God.
Under moments of deep pain and tension my first reaction is to buy clothes, causing our family financial stress with spending splurges. Deep down I think that if my closet is organized and full of pretty things, perhaps the pain will go away. If I can just create ways to look good, put together, and trendy on the outside, I hope I will be beautiful on the inside. I look at my $100 shoes, and a sense of at least temporary happiness fills my mind.
Sitting at the online shopping world, memories resurface. Maybe I am stupid like my mother told me. I click the mouse. Growing up, my mother chose my clothes, regardless of what I wanted to wear…click. The kids at school made fun of my clothes…click.
As an adult I have the freedom to buy my own clothes…click…to be classy and well dressed the way I want to look…click. I am tired of trying to find clothes in a country where the language is different and getting out of the house is a struggle…click.
On the computer I can shop back home and feel competent that I know what I am doing…click. My husband is angry and I am hurt by our exchanges…click, click, click.
The mouse is possessed, and it clicks away as the shopping carts continue to fill.
Shopping needlessly when I am hurt and angry is wrong, and I try to hide my purchases from my husband. I look over my shoulder, hoping that he will not discover my sin. This may sound horrible, but at first I do not even feel remorse—only the selfish desires of wanting these clothes, purchased with money we do not have. I think of my favorite shoes and how perfectly the sweater I just bought will match. A couple hours later my husband finds out about the shopping binge, and our stress reaches dangerous levels. As we argue, I can see that my actions have hurt him. He is upset and talking to me, yet I do not even hear him because I am in my own world, putting outfits together.
What is my problem?! Why do I have this need to steal money from my children, my husband, and our future savings? As a global worker I feel that I am supposed to be frugal; a thrift store queen, one who sacrifices. I am not supposed to be someone who likes to design outfits, and who shops as an outlet for stress and depression. I am not supposed to feel worthless, because as a daughter of the King I am to go to Him as my refuge and strength. How are clothes going to help in the midst of culture shock, painful memories, or a hurting marriage? Matthew 6:20-21 says, “Store up for yourselves treasure in Heaven where moth and rust do not destroy where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” Sitting on the floor, looking at my shoes, I cry out to God and ask forgiveness. I confessed to God that my heart was in clothes and not in Him. I had to admit that ministry was not important, my husband was not important—my true desire was to have things to make me happy, at any cost. I felt nauseous as I realized that my life was headed down a dangerous path of sin that had the potential to destroy my dear family and push me farther away from my Heavenly Father.
My $100 shoes are still in my closet, and I have learned that there is nothing wrong with having a pair of shoes that you enjoy. But when those shoes become your primary value in life, start to ruin your family, and come between you and an intimate relationship with God, then your attitude towards those shoes needs to change.
God is meeting me in places I never thought possible. Childhood experiences are starting to heal as God massages out the painful knots in my memory. Our marriage has its ups and downs, but the pain is healing. I still struggle with the temptation to shop, a struggle that I am not proud to admit. Only with God’s strength will I be able to conquer shopping binges and selfish desires. And only God can replace the pain with peace.