Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Too Much

"Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you." (1 John 2:15 NLT)

Our family recently decided to get rid of our cable service. This was for a number of reasons. We could certainly use the extra $$$ in our bank account each month. We also found that having the TV on during family time = loud chaotic mess. But the following reason trumps all others: I hate commercials. I am especially intolerant of ads targeted at my kids, fueling a constant chorus of, "I want that, I need that, buy that for me!" And so on.

This is especially challenging at the holidays. I admit that I haven't seen much TV lately, but I happened to turn on the Dancing With the Stars finale for maybe10 minutes last night and was horrified, not at the program (that's another blog post altogether), but at the commercials. The blonde lady on the Target commercials is a bit disturbing. She gets completely worked up about preparing herself for Black Friday shopping deals. Now, I like a deal as much as the next person, but nothing in this world is worth that kind of mania.  It also seems that we've lost the meaning of the holiday itself: giving thanks for what we have and for our many blessings, not for 20% off a purchase of $50 or more. 

The heart of my problem is this: how can I teach my children that happiness and holiness isn't found in things but in relationships, when the world at-large gives such a different message? Sure, my kids still want stuff, even without being bombarded with TV commercials.  When the American Girl Doll catalog comes to the house Maddie quickly circles the items she wants. Ava imitates her big sister, making wild crayon circles on every page.  Maddie has to do chores to earn money, which she divides among spending, saving, and giving jars.  One of our family rules is to "give thanks for everything", which we repeat and discuss when the children have a case of the "gimmies".  I feel that as a family, we do our best to think before we buy.  But it's a constant battle.

I want to teach the girls what the author of the above verse says: if you're focused on the things of the world, you take your eyes off what really matters: Jesus. But the message is deeper than that.  Our desire for stuff not only blocks out our clear view to Jesus, but it also has consequences for our environment and our world.  Check out the YouTube video below. It's just a further explanation about how consumerism imbalances our world's resources and wealth.

I don't mean to diminish the special family bonds that can form over Black Friday shopping.  But I hope we can all think twice about how we spend our money, and our time, over the holidays. Have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving!

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