Making Stuff Your God

Have you ever noticed that when you start dealing with something in your own life, you start noticing that same struggle or weakness in other people?

That happened to me recently. I was on a forum and came across a thread that asked how many BluRays forum members owned but hadn’t watched yet. My answer was 6, because I had upgraded some of my Harry Potter movies, and gotten a couple other films for my birthday that I had seen before but hadn’t had time to watch yet. But the majority of other people had hundreds of movies they had bought (without seeing first), but never unwrapped or watched.

I was stunned. One word came to my mind, a word that a year ago I wouldn’t have thought of: “Wasteful.”

As some of you know, over the last year the Lord has been working on my “idol” of materialism. I’m pretty thrifty. Parting me from my money is a challenge. I don’t buy very many clothes. I’m not tempted by the latest style in shoes. I don’t spend hundreds of dollars on my appearance, my hair, my makeup, or anything else. I don’t buy designer clothes or purses or paintings. I think twice before buying things, whether they are $4 or $400 dollars. That’s why I’m delighted when someone buys me something cool, because I probably would not have bought it for myself.

But everyone has a blind spot, and mine was my DVD collection. Every time I saw a movie I liked, I bought it. I didn’t spend much on it, and bought almost nothing at full price. Many of the titles came out of the $5 bargain bins. But over time, I started having a lot of movies. So many that my top twenty or so got watched all the time, and the other 250 not that much at all. I was proud of my collection…. until I realized what it said about me. It said, “Entertainment is the most important thing in your life.”

It shouldn’t be, but it was. I was too accepting and my standards were too low. If it was cute and relatively clean, I thought I should have it. I was sacrificing quality for quantity.

One of my friends is also thrifty, like me. I asked her why once, and she said, “Because anything I do spend money on is going to be excellent. I don’t settle for less than that.”

Her movie collection has about 50 titles in it. But they are 50 titles that she loves, and watches over and over again. They are 50 quality titles that either are just all around excellent or just make her think. Sometimes, I envy that. She hasn’t bought anything that she re-watched and thought, “Ugh, what was I smoking when I liked this movie?” She hasn’t had to feel regret at purchasing any of them, since she waited a long time to do so, and got them for the cheapest possible price. There’s nothing in there that has gone unwatched for years. She hasn’t been wasteful, but I have.

And it’s a hard habit to break. I’m a completist. If I start collecting something, I find it hard to stop. It’s hard for me to only have “one of a set” even if I don’t particularly like the rest of the movies in the series.  It is something I deal with every day. But even though it is hard not to click the “sale” button, and to double-think my “one weakness,” at the end of the day I feel better for not having spent the money, and added more clutter to my life. It may not be a big deal. It’s only a few bucks here and there. God doesn’t really care about how many movies I have in my collection… so long as they are not the center of my focus, or play the role of a “god” in my life, or prevent me from spending my money on better things… like in supporting friends in their “Walk for Life” marathon, or in taking care of a tiger at the Wild Animal Sanctuary, or in sending a few bucks several times a year to the Homeless Shelter.

Happiness does not come from owning a lot of stuff. It comes from loving what you do own.

4 Replies to “Making Stuff Your God”

  1. I think that a lot of times in the first world we’re kind of spoiled. In a great country like ours we’re very fortunate to have many luxuries but at the same time we also do things that people in 3rd world countries wouldn’t do or would think its wasteful. There was a time where we had food that spoiled and had to throw it away so I recently have made a rule where I buy enough food for 3 days and I don’t go shopping until its all used up. It works of course it helps that I live in the city and our shopping center is about 5-10 minutes away. 🙂

    1. You’re fortunate… I live a good 45 minutes from the nearest grocery store, so that’s not an option for me. I still let food spoil sometimes, which upsets me — but it’s hard cooking for one.

  2. Great post. I don’t think God asks us to live without “fun” or “enjoyment” just so long, as you say, as we know where our priorities should be.

    It is interesting how we are able to see in others what we cannot always see in ourselves. No matter how we fight against it, we are all more materialistically minded that we’d like to think about or admit.

    1. I think it is very easy to put other things before God. Yourself. Your movie collection. Your family. Your friends. Your ambitions. What you think about most, if you are not careful, becomes your idol. You can pray for God to knock those idols down, but that’s a scary thing… because often until He does, you didn’t realize how much you leaned on those idols.

      I think once your eyes are opened to your faults, you see the same struggles in others. Someone who once struggled with overcoming pornography, for example, would know the symptomps in another person, just as someone who once struggled with credit card debt can see the hole another person is digging themselves into.

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