Fundraising has forced me to take a hard look at myself. What do I believe about money? What about materialism?
Before going through this process, I thought I was above other people because I wasn’t materialistic. Growing up in a community like Highland Park and city like Dallas means that materialism is everywhere. From the time I was young, I didn’t like it, and began early on identifying myself as “not that,” i.e. not materialistic.
I didn’t like fashion or makeup very much. Then, as an adult, I actively chose not to “keep up with the Joneses.” And how proud I have been of myself for that…!
Until God revealed something to me about myself last week that I did not expect to find.
You see, I had an unusual resentment for those I considered materialistic. You know what that resentment should have signaled to me? It should have signaled that I was not really at peace with my Anti-Materialism. It should have been like a red flag to signal me, “Elisabeth, you are just as materialistic as the next person! Your Anti-Materialism is Materialism, just the reverse. But you still define yourself by what you have, or have not.”
I was so proud of my old car, that we drive our cars until they die rather than having flashy new ones. But then ironically I was also embarrassed of its dents and dings . . . Once again, I was clearly not at peace in my anti-materialistic world!
And here is the conclusion: my anti-materialism is just as materialistic as materialism is. In identifying myself as not that I was caught up in the exact same thing I didn’t like. My identity was in not being materialistic. And that was keeping me focused always on materialism, on what I didn’t have, and my pride related to it, and at times my shame related to it.
It’s time for a new way to define myself, not by what I have or do not have. It’s time to be free of materialism, and rather than seeing myself through the lens of have or have not to be set free of thinking of myself in either term.
You see, as long as material possessions are used by me to define myself, I will never be free. For someone always has less, and someone always has more. I can always do with less, and I can always buy more. I can shop at a thrift shop, or I can spend it all at Neiman’s. I can take pride in having no debt or I can run up a credit card bill. At the end of the day, it’s all the same thing.
To be free of materialism is to put my trust in God. The antidote to anti-materialism, or materialism for that matter, is to understand this beautiful promise:
Keep your life free from the love of money,
and be content with what you have, for he has said,
‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’
So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
What can man do to me?’
My life is hid with Christ on high. I have all of the riches in the world. My Creator and my Savior made me, died for me, loves me, and has promised that HE will never leave me or forsake me. In him, I quite literally have everything I need.
Though I know this is Anti-Materialism's antidote, I am still in process about it, for the many years of defining myself by my anti-materialism doesn’t go away overnight. More to come on this subject.