Thursday, February 3, 2011

Choices

When it comes to all the choices we have, I sometimes think I'd prefer how things were, oh say, 100 years ago.

Take food for example.  We grow most of the vegetables we eat and some of the fruit, but we don't harvest our own wheat and sugar cane and churn our own butter.  We could, I guess, but that would mean choosing to spend a lot more time working for what we eat.  Not that working for what you eat is a bad thing- it's not.  But how much is too much for us?

So, we decide to go to the store or the farmer's market for our remaining food needs.  More choices.  Do I try to buy everything I can from local farmers?  If I do, I will spend more money and may have to make trips around town to pick up raw milk, etc.  I completely understand why small farms have to charge more and I'm happy pay them, but that extra money I'm spending on the food or milk could be given to those in need if I would just shop at the store.

So, I'm off to the store for some of my purchases.  Which store do I head to?  The small, non-chain store where I can't find everything and where they charge slightly more for certain items or a chain grocery store where they offer cheaper prices and one stop shopping?  Cheaper prices means more to give, but what about those local businesses who need my support?

Once I decide which store to shop at, do I choose the organic options (of things I can't buy at the farmer's market) knowing that it's safer for my family and will encourage organic companies/farmers or go with the store brand so we have more money to share?

Choices, choices, choices.

And, that's just food.

What if I need some clothes?  My options are ridiculous.  There are the boutiques, the chain stores in the mall, the mega stores, the discount stores, and the thrift stores (not to mention all the on-line stores).  Do I spend time and gas money driving to thrift store, then discount store, then mega store, then chain stores (I never make it to boutiques) because I couldn't find what fit me properly and was of good quality at the previous store?  Does it really matter that it fits properly or is of good quality?  I mean, I have clothes to wear.  I should just be thankful for that, right?

What about gifts?  Do I make my own gifts?  Do I spend cash to buy handmade gifts to support friends?  Or do I find less expensive gifts and give more to others?  OR do I support mega sites like Amazon where I can use my Swagbucks and shop for free, using more saved money for the needs of others?

Do you see what I'm getting at?  What's more important?  Organic food?  Local food?  Cheap food?  Clothes that fit properly?  Reusing clothes?  Handmade gifts?  Less expensive gifts?  Local gifts?  Free gifts that lead to giving?

There are books lining the shelves of bookstores, articles in magazines, important people blabbing away on talk shows (and, dare I say, blogs?)...everyone everywhere seems to be telling us what to buy where, who to support, which way is best, what to avoid.  All these choices have their own consequences.  So, how does one decide?

You'd like me to tell you, right?  I'd like me to tell me.

Dare I ask what would Jesus do?  Okay, I won't (although it might not be a bad idea).  But, I will ask you what you think the Bible has to say about it.  From what I gather, we're to love God first, then love our neighbors (near and far) as ourselves.  We're to take care of the poor, the widows, the orphans, the sick, the elderly, creation, and spread the Gospel (the Good News of Jesus).

That simplifies it, right?  How we decide how much of our resources go where to support these commands is up to us and, hopefully, we are letting the Spirit lead us in this decision.  But to hear the Spirit's leading, we have to listen, not just follow the latest trends.  This making-choices-thing can't possibly be as complicated as I'm making it.  I don't think it's God's intent to confuse us.

So, next time I need to make a purchase, I'm going to ask for guidance and try to listen very carefully.  If you happen to see me standing in the aisle of the local grocery store appearing paralyzed, feel free to join me. 

We can listen together.

Jesus replied:  "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'.  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." 
Matthew 22:37-40, NIV
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13 comments:

  1. THHP, This is one of the best posts I've read in a while! Excellent thoughts for us to meditate on! Actually, many of these thoughts already are running through our minds, are they not? We don't have answers, but we seek them. I think you hit the nail on the head when you reminded us that God is not sending us a confusing message - His message is clear if we stop to listen.

    Two thoughts of how my own family is wrestling with this:
    1) when it comes to homesteading, I try to think long-term. In other words, will this item I'm purchasing last so as to save money in the long run so that over time, I can save money (same goes with things I wish to do such as make soap - recently I invested in some quality soap molds that can be used for years and years. In the short term, I spent a chunk of change - Christmas gift money - but in the long run, I'll save.)

    2) each year, we try to increase our giving to the church/missions by a percentage. We started at 10% and have been working our way up slowly. Some years we can only increase it by a fraction of a percentage, but other years, we increased it by a whole percent. Not much you say? In time, this adds up significantly. I'm not sharing this to say "hey, what a good job they do giving" (I won't say where we are, but it's not where we want to be as our final goal; only that we've been committed to this for several years), but rather, I share because as Americans, we don't really have our brain around the issue of giving; it's mostly consuming, which we're good at, myself included.

    I'll be meditating more on your words today! Thanks for bravely sharing your heart!

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  2. Hi there, I don't comment often, but I read all your posts and love your blog. I have thought often of your new mantra "Live simply in order to give" and it has rung true with me. I have thought about this over and over again. I appreciate your efforts to share [part of] your life and your thoughts with us.

    I especially like this post. It is true. I was just commenting to a friend yesterday about how we live in a time when there is so much. Going to the grocery store overwhelms me because there are so many choices. I am grateful for them, and I am not saying that I want to live in a society where we don't have choices, but it does get overwhelming.

    I do think the answer is as you put it. Local? Organic? Raw? There are so many "movements" now a day that we can get caught up in something that may be good, but there could be something "BETTER". And the better thing is to ask What would our Savior do. Every thing we have comes from him. I think we can be guided as to where we should pass our resources (money) in order to bless others and to provide for our needs.

    Thanks for the uplifting thought today. May your little family continue to be blessed.

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  3. Great post! That's also one of my favorite bible verses.

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  4. I struggle with this daily. It's pathetic how much time I spend twirling the options around in my head. I think I need to ask for guidance, too. And I'll probably end up in the local grocery right next to you, a dazed look on my face.

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  5. I think what's most important... is that we want to give... that we all want to pay it forward somehow... we may all do it differently... but we're all still cheerful givers...

    Share The Wealth.

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  6. Another peanut in the gallery wanting to say, great post!

    I have so many thoughts on this element. It is awesome to have such choices, even as I read of the poor in the Middle East whose food budget is 75% of their income. I complain about how much it costs just to eat, I get irritated when I read about subsidies that are meant to support the small farmer going to agro business to keep prices artificially low, then I buy beef or chicken or eggs at those artificially low prices. I give lip service to local farmers, and then try to explain to my husband why the blue eggs in the compostable package cost nearly 4 dollars a dozen while the perfect white eggs packaged in Styrofoam are only about a dollar a dozen. Politics!

    In the end, I think of what Paul had to say to those who worried about buying temple meat, don't let the politics (or the religion of it) consume you, rather, consider the souls of those who are watching what you do as they struggle to become all that Elohim has called them to be.

    Paul also said….
    And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Col 3:17 RSV

    …. He also who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; while he who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. Rom 14:6b-7 RSV

    I love that you care! Whatever path you choose, choose it to Y’shua and give Him thanks.

    Deborah of Rainsong

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  7. I'm another that doesn't comment often (not sure if I have yet!), but your blog has been a great encouragement to me the past few months. I just told my husband yesterday that there are some blogs that are simply fun, and there are some (fewer) that encourage me in my faith. Your's is one of the latter!

    I am in the middle of an interesting book, "Walking Gently on the Earth" by Lisa Graham McMinn and her daughter, Megan Anna Neff. It has been such a good, practical resource for what, where and why we should buy certain items- food and clothes, etc. I would love to hear your thoughts! The thing that has been the most comforting and encouraging to me is that there is a real link between buying sustainable, organic and local and combating poverty. The one will (hopefully!) aid in the other. While I might be able to give less if I buy fair trade coffee, I will know that the $5 extra dollars I spent is hopefully combating injustice in a community overseas.

    One thing my husband often tells me when I get overwhelmed or stressed is so simple: do what you can do. God know we cannot be perfect, so while we don't sit back and do nothing, we should try to do what we can do, always growing and becoming aware of how we can do more, while letting the rest go!

    Sorry this comment is so long, but I definitely resonate with your post!

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  8. I'm new to your blog and I really enjoyed reading it! Check mine out at myredbarnrevival.blogspot.com

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  9. Thanks for encouragement. I often struggle with this also, I guess because I'm buying food and other 'necessities' on a regular basis. I used to base all my purchases on price, being frugal was the most important goal for me. Now I'm much more concerned with how and where the product was made/grown/processed. I often end up spending more money, but feel that my money is being more wisely spent. I try to use our purchasing power to change the world for the better. Maybe that's a grand idea, but it makes me feel like I'm doing something more than just feeding my family.

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  10. THHP, I feel so blessed by this post. I'm awake after having just this conversation at least twice today, We sharpen our focus, on what is really important. Where we'll spend our energy. Sometimes it feels as tho I'm so engrained in a commercial/consumeristic life, challenging even one part is exasperating. I feel like a 'recovering consumer', you know the 12 step kind. But I'm realizing that's what I think God is asking us to do. Really consider our ways, immerse ourselves regularly in His ways, and trust in His grace. Even in this big obstacle of abundant choices. An interesting book I'm currently reading 'Traveling a Pilgrim's Path' by Janet Parshall & her husband, shares ideas about teaching our children through the use of the images from 'A Pilgrims Progress'. Great book, but the discussion about their travels through Vanity Fair comes to mind. The abundance is deceiving, the deals, the so-called bargains, it can be just as deceptive in our living as the glitz & sparkle. I have a friend who only shops at Target for simplicity's sake. Could she bargain better at other stores? Yes,(she knows this) she's 'thrifted' her children's clothes for years. Coupon is her middle name. She's an amazing shopper, but her life has been complicated the last few years, and she's just made a choice to shop once a month for items & picked a pleasant place to do it. Her giving(both financially & in action) at church, with family & friends and charitable need is exemplary. Sometimes the simplicity even if the cents/dollars it cost will create order & give energy for more effective(not necessarily greater) service. I personally need to focus my efforts in being more careful with my resources, taking them less for granted, appreciating the blessings.
    *Thanks* for this post, sorry so long winded.

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  11. oh man!!! Don't I know exactly what you are talking about!!!
    Some days I wonder what's best... local or cheaper?
    organic or cheaper?

    So maybe the next time I'm standing in the grocery aisle with a spaced-out look on my face, I'll think of you. We are both deciding what to do for our families.
    This verse came to mind...
    James 1:5--- if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

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  12. I feel this confusion frequently. There are so many pros and cons for different choices, and everyone has a convincing opinion. Thank goodness we have the Holy Spirit to guide us, and even if we're not sure what God would have us do, there is grace for mistakes we might make.
    I'm certain, whatever the best choices may be, he doesn't want us to obsess over them. I think He only wants us obsessed with Himself. :0)
    Enjoying browsing your blog!

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