Initially my quest to live more justly was experimental, novel and fun. Changes were made, new items purchased and knowledge gained. Now though, I’m feeling a bit glum.
Turns out trying to live more ethically often involves a cost. Sometimes financial – buying the more sustainable or fairly-traded item is usually more expensive. Sometimes personal when my desires for the shiny and new are not sated.
I am surprised to discover how materialistic I really am. I like the endorphin kick I get from new purchases and I am looking forward to shortly unwrapping a large pile of birthday presents (hopefully all chosen from my carefully compiled wishlist).
I know I’m not Kate Middleton but I feel embarrassed that in a couple of recent Facebook photos I’m wearing the same ‘special occasion dress’.
Does this matter? Should it? Does it matter to you?
I find it hard to resist purchases for my children despite knowing their happiness is not dependent on having the latest toy. Many of Little Miss and Small Boy’s playthings are from charity shops and some even used to belong to me or Mr Pilgrim. A sofa, blanket, chair and laundry basket can become a house or a boat or a train providing hours of entertainment, laughter and joy.
I’ve started reading L is for Lifestyle (another book by Ruth Valerio). Not a new purchase – we found it in a box of books under the bed! She quotes Richard Foster’s 10 principles for the outward expression of simplicity from the classic Celebration of Discipline.
I’m feeling challenged afresh as I look at the list:
- Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status
- Reject anything that is producing an addiction in you
- Develop a habit of giving things away
- Refuse to buy the latest gadget
- Learn to enjoy things without owning them
- Develop a deeper appreciation for the creation
- Look with scepticism at ‘buy now, pay later’ schemes
- Obey Jesus’ instructions about plain honest speech
- Reject anything that breeds the oppression of others
- Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God.
One of the reasons I like writing this blog is that it helps me to sift and clarify my thoughts and feelings. As I come to the end of this post, the sad feeling I mentioned at the start has dissipated. Reflecting on Little Miss and Small Boy’s joy and delight in simple pleasures helps me to focus on what’s important in life: people not things.