Since it is close to Christmas, I will preface this post by saying this is not some sort of anti-Christmas rant. The times just happened to coincide with each other. That said, let us consider what is truly important in our lives and look for ways to make this a lasting, memorable time, instead of just hoping we get everything on our list. I promise you that you will have a much better and more lasting Christmas season if you do. :-)
I've recently started reading The Man in the Mirror, by Patrick Morley, and he begins the book by talking about the force with which consumerism has been pushed on us. Consumerism, for those who don't know, is "the concept that an ever-expanding consumption of goods is advantageous to the economy," (Dictionary.com).
At first I thought that this did not relate to me. My family and I could really not care less about "keeping up with the Jones," and we are fairly happy with some basic general things and a couple of fun toys. Then I realized that its much more insidious than that. Consumerism (and materialism, it's younger brother), affects us on a much deeper level than we are used to having to deal with.
It's in the way I feel drawn to wanting "the best" when I do go and get something new. It lies in wait until I get even the tiniest bit bored with what I have, and want something different. It's in the thousand tiny decisions I make every day about whether to go out to eat, get that candy bar, or by a new video game because it's on sale (hey, I'm saving 75%!).
I am told "my wants are important," "it's just a couple bucks," "save money by spending more," and similar attitudes that have been taught to me for my entire life. Not by my parents (thank goodness they strove to teach me differently!), but by the media, the internet, billboards, and everything else to the extent that you can't help but be affected by it unless you move out to Easter Island or something. It wants to put us in a rat race that can never be won, and can never be truly fulfilling even for those who make it to the "end" of the race. It wants to put us on a never-ending track so that we want more and more and more and more. Until we die and are of no use to them any longer.
The real danger isn't in wanting something new or nice. There is nothing wrong with getting that occasional candy bar, or getting a name-brand washer-dryer so that it will last a long time. The real danger is in wanting more when you don't need it, and chasing something new when what you have works perfectly well for your situation. It's the chasing, the wanting, the "needing," when we don't really need. It's the sacrificing of our time, energy, and effort on things the world deems important, when what we really need is time for our families, time for ourselves, and time for our God.
Jesus said, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses," (Luke 12:15). If you find your life consisting more and more about the things you have and want, especially to the detriment or your friends, family, and God, it is time to turn around and begin chasing what is truly important. Start chasing that which is eternal, fulfilling, and truly real, instead of the things we see around us which will disappear and be destroyed in the end anyway. It's a lifelong struggle, and one I will continue to deal with as well. But as long as I am chasing, wanting, and focused on what is truly real and important, I will win the race, because it's not being run in a rat maze.