Friday, January 18, 2008

On $4 hoodies and God's amazing grace

So I shopped last week. Mostly I bought for my boys, but I did score a couple of tee shirts and a hoodie for like $4 apiece off the clearance rack at Target. Just about my entire wardrobe consists of tees and hoodies, but at $4 why not a couple more?

I guess I had fun. But it wasn't the kind of shopping I had wanted to do. See, my mother-in-law gave me a check for Christmas, a very generous amount of money in my economy. My husband teased me that it would take me 3 years to spend it at $10 increments.

Well, I wanted to prove him wrong. I wanted to buy something I would never ever buy for myself, perhaps even at full price (shocking!)...but I couldn't bring myself to do it. It's not like there isn't anything I want; I've got a long list of wants and desires from clothes to furniture.

But instead of the freedom to indulge myself, I felt the pressure to make the very most of this money, to get either get something I really really wanted and therefore experience no regret, or get the very most bang for the buck.

So I ended up with a four dollar hoodie.

I talked to my husband on the phone as I drove home, describing my shopping anxiety and accompanying frustration. "I almost wish she hadn't even given me the money," I confessed.

"You didn't see anything you wanted?" he asked.

I told him about a sweater I liked but it was full price, not on sale, and cost more than the $10 I normally spend on my clothes.

He said, "What if someone had given you that sweater for Christmas, what would you think?"

"I would be grateful. And excited," I acknowledged.

I would. I would receive it, joyfully and gladly and without reservation. But because of my shopper's anxiety, I took my mother-in-law's extravagance and turned it into some kind of weird performance / perfectionistic standard. It was no longer a gift; it was a burden.

God's grace to me is a gift. He has saved me, not because of anything I have done or will do, but because of His great love and mercy. Often I treat His grace as something I must earn or be worthy of. I strive and work, only to find my so-called righteous acts are filthy rags before Him, not even worth $4 off the clearance rack.

"...how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ."
~Rom. 5:17

22 comments:

  1. Oh that's great! And I'm glad I'm not the only one like this. I get birthday money from my in-laws, and I am so frugal with it - scared to spend it sometimes!! She is much more generous to me than I am.

    Thanks for the wonderful spiritual application.

    ReplyDelete
  2. How so VERY true. I think we as Mom's are especially guilty of not thinking ourselves worthy. Thank goodness for our Heavenly Father who knows so much better!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Lisa! Go get the sweater! Make your husband happy; make your mother-in-law happy. Enjoy the gift.

    God's gift is lavish too, and He doesn't want us to hide it someplace; He wants us to be clothed in it and savor all that it is.

    Go get the sweater and savor all that it is.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great reminder that His gift brings freedom and peace! I don't need to muddle it up with my "stuff," but rather just receive it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow! I just found you blog from reading other blogs (you know how that goes, one lead to another) and I'm glad I did. What a great application of the Word! God's love and all His gifts are so freely given with nothing expected in return but without realizing it, we do give back to him as we slowly change. You mother-in-law gave you the money freely, expecting nothing in return. Don't limit yourself - enjoy it, like you do God's new mercies every morning!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I absolutely identify with your post today. I often hang on to gift cards forever because I haven't found the perfect item or because I want to make the most of the money.

    This is also the second time in a week I've been reminded of taking God's gift of grace for granted. (The first was in the book Blue Like Jazz.) I'm guessing that's for a reason. :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. This post was so interesting for me to read. My sister in law gave me a gift card for Christmas and on the outside she write in big, BOLD letters:

    Dear Sis: this is FOR YOU. Do you understand me, FOR YOU, to spend ON YOU!

    She knows how I am, so she was hoping I'd actually spend the gift card on myself. I really wanted to, but once I arrived at the store and found girl's dress shoes on clearance for $5.00, and other things the kids need (all on clearance sale), I just couldn't bring myself to shop for me.

    I don't know anyone that does this the way I do, so it's good to know I'm not the only weird mom out there that approaches shopping like that.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hahahah....I can so relate! If someone gives me money, I usually spend it on the kids or continue to bargain shop for myself. It must be a Mom thing?? I'd rather see my children enjoy it than buy myself the much needed clotes. Loved the post.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think you are not alone! And I loved the spiritual application. We serve a generous God and how much of the time do we not open the wonderful gifts He has for us? He is not stingy with His grace. I hope you will find the freedom to indulge. Because it was a gift and it is more blessed to give than to receive. Have you ever thought that you are robbing her of the blessing that she was to receive by giving you that gift. Spend it and let her be blessed.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I completely understand. Most people who buy gifts for me know what a bibliophile I am, so they always give me book store gift cards. I always wish they were gift certs from www.half.com, www.amazon.com or www.ebay.com or my local used bookstore, so I could get many books instead of one or two. A used book is a treasure.

    ReplyDelete
  11. LOL...how alike we are!

    My SIL gave me a generous gift card to a store where the clothes makes me absolutely, positively salivate. Only...it is an expensive store, the SALE prices are about 3 times more than what I normally spend on clothes. I am having the hardest time not thinking how much more I could get for the bucks at the department store around the corner which is having a 40% off the clearance prices sale!

    I'd rather settle for the less-than-perfect cheapie item than splurge on the item-of-my-dreams. Even if that item never cost me a cent in the first place!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great tie in to the Word! But, ummm - I would not have beem at Target with that gift - I would have been at mall!

    ReplyDelete
  13. This is such a great post!! I love how you take real life situations and apply Biblical concepts to them. I've learned so much about myself and what God wants for me and my life.

    Thank you for having such an open spirit and loving heart.

    my blog: http://akhmmm.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. Lisa, right before I sat down to read your post I was talking to my husband about an $80 gift card I got for Target and what I should spend it on. I told him I could stock up on detergent and pantyhose, or maybe buy something for the house. Hmmm, now I'm thinking about going to look for those hoodies for myself! I enjoyed reading your stuff. I've added you to my faves!
    I'm at http://www.wrinkledshirts.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  15. Enjoy the generosity of others like you enjoy the generosity of your loving Father - -
    I was tied by "frugality" for so many years, torn between "giving it all up for the kingdom's sake" and "revelling in the ownership of a cattle on a thousand hills"...
    Interestingly enough it was after we adopted our son from the poverty of Brazil that I am able to enjoy God's material blessings more than ever. Go figure! (long story...!)

    ReplyDelete
  16. So very scary that there are others out there that struggle with this same thing...not in a "your weird", but in, AHA...we may be on to something here.

    Thanks for your honesty and transparency...now, go ahead and give dh the money and ask him to pick up the sweater. Ha!

    No really...you deserve the blessing...enjoy it!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I try to get the very most for my money too -- but there are times when it's right to treat yourself to something nice. You're a daughter of God, and as such, you deserve to feel special. If a nice sweater will make you feel special, I say go for it. You don't spend extravagantly, you're being a good steward over what you've been given -- you deserve to have something for you once in a while.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Oops -- I forgot to sign out of my husband's account before posting that last comment. That was me, Tristi :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Oh, Lisa, I am EXACTLY the same way. Ironically, my mother-in-law also gave me a generous financial gift for Christmas, to "buy something I'd enjoy." That money is still sitting in an envelope while I agonize over it. Finally, just this morning, I signed up for a class and that money will pay for it. It's a class that I've wanted to take for a while, but could seem to bring myself to spring for it. It's really something just for me, and while I feel a little weird doing it, I know my mother-in-law will be so happy to know that her gift is going to something that is an enjoyable indulgence.

    Love your connection to God's grace, too -- so true!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Oh My....it was comforting to read your post, but even more comforting to read the comments! To know that there are MANY more just like me (us) out there! I love it!

    Angela

    ReplyDelete
  21. Oh My....it was comforting to read your post, but even more comforting to read the comments! To know that there are MANY more just like me (us) out there! I love it!

    Angela

    ReplyDelete
  22. Lisa, right before I sat down to read your post I was talking to my husband about an $80 gift card I got for Target and what I should spend it on. I told him I could stock up on detergent and pantyhose, or maybe buy something for the house. Hmmm, now I'm thinking about going to look for those hoodies for myself! I enjoyed reading your stuff. I've added you to my faves!
    I'm at http://www.wrinkledshirts.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete