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.