Several weeks ago I went shopping for myself—which is about as rare as snow falling in October.
And while many of you think that’s an exaggeration, I was on orders to go shopping from one of my best friends who found out that I’d only worn ONE main bra…..(wait for it)…..since 2009. (Yikes, I know. But that darn thing just fit so well!)
After frantically hurrying through a department store, trying to find several items that I needed within the 3 hour window before nursing Birdie again, I ran to the checkout line as the lady scanned each item. I found three pairs of jeans that I desperately needed on a sale rack—since the last time I bought non-pregnant jeans was….(wait for it again)….2009. There were tops and blazers that I needed for my upcoming conferences, and matching socks that would solve my mismatched sock problem. There were boots that hadn’t lost their soles like my current boots, and jackets that could get me through the fall.
Over the years, I had taken Christian pride in my lack of desire for material things. I praised myself for my personal pedicures (even though I actually enjoyed going to the spa), dyed my own hair, felt the need to only buy things for myself out of need and practicality (since desire sometimes seemed wrong), and only made purchases if they were on sale. I drove cars into the ground—convincing myself that it was silly to want anything new as long as the old was paid for, puttering along just fine.
“That will be $$$, ma’am,” the cashier said with a smile, bagging my pile of much-needed items. And though nothing in my bag was excessive with many items years overdue, it was as if a hot blanket of lava poured over my head, firing up my heart with intense heat.
Shame. Deep, deep, deep shame. Shame on you for spending so much money on yourself, Christa. Shame on you for receiving anything that you don't deserve.
Being raised in a Christian culture, I learned important biblical concepts like putting others first, giving to the poor and needy, and humbling myself before God. But somewhere along the way, I had translated the concepts to mean….value yourself less than everyone else.
The thing is, I'm far from stingy. I have no problem dropping cash on my children, justifying toys, clothes, trips, and excursions to get ice cream just to see them smile. I'm the first to pull out my checkbook if there's a need in the world, giving large hunks of cash over the years to the poor and needy. I love buying lavish gifts for others that I would never buy for myself, saving up for whatever my husband wanted for Christmas.
But the red flag was, I always got mad if Luke spent too much money on me, always feeling unworthy of receiving.
Years ago, I walked by a new Louis Vuitton store wanting to go inside. I’d heard stories of snobby salespeople turning up their nose at those who didn’t look like they belonged—even hearing how Oprah had been turned away from a Hermes store in Paris. And after walking back and forth several times, I finally mustered up enough courage to walk through the door, holding my nose in the air and trying my best to pretend like I was more important than the number in my bank account. After quickly browsing through the store holding my breath, salivating at many items I thought were beautiful, I exited quickly to rejoin my husband.
“Babe, turn around,” he said. “Your Old Navy tag for the shirt you just bought is sticking out.” With bright orange numbers, the tag of my shirt had displayed for the entire Louis Vuitton store that I had found a $1.99 bargain that day in the mall, turning my impostor face beet red.
At my very core, I didn't feel like Louis Vuitton. I felt like $1.99 from the Old Navy….which is simply not okay.
Here’s the deal, this is not a blog promoting consumption or name brands. I know millionaires who feel like a million bucks in their Old Navy outfits and poor fashionistas who save up all year for a beloved designer handbag–so it's not about the item or the money. This is, instead, a blog about shame, and the shame I felt every time money was spent on me. It's about the ability (or inability) I've possessed to really, really receive, possessing a deep feeling of lack within. My spending habits didn't point to an external problem–it pointed to an internal value issue.
And from the looks of my credit card bill and the way I wanted to cringe every time money was spent on me, my heart didn't believe it was worth as much as I preached from the pulpit.
God has been peeling back some pretty deep layers inside of me this year–layers I didn't even know existed. And as He's been digging, we've been getting down to this core question…..
Christa, do you value yourself like I value you?
Matthew 6:21 (ESV)
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Many times, money is a pretty clear indicator of what's going on within the heart. And from the looks of my money, my heart didn't have as much value for me as it did for those that I loved. There are others, however, who swing in the opposite extreme while feeling unworthy, spending far too much money on themselves to try and buy their worth.
So the issue isn't the money. The issue is the value system within.
Ask your heart these questions…
How do you feel when money is spent on you?
How do you feel when you spend money on yourself?
What do you spend money on and why?
Do you have difficulty receiving?
And the big question….
What makes you feel valuable?
Take a few moments with the Counselor, bringing your answers before Him and asking Him what He thinks. Begin an inner dialogue with Father about your worth, challenging any shame that might arise.
When I started doing this, and Father started teaching me about my deep worth to Him, He started challenging me on some things. He challenged me to start pampering myself a bit, because I didn't know how without feeling guilt.
And friends, guilt and shame our not traits of our God.
(Disclaimer: I am in no way asking anyone to spend outside of their means or budget. But I've had the budget for a new bra for years and just never bought one. I'm asking you to gauge how you feel every time money is spent on you. Make sense?)
Since I enjoy going to see one of my closest friends to get my hair done, God told me to start making regular appointments. Since I enjoy massages, He told me to book a day at the spa. Since I'm getting a bit tired of my 7 year old practical car that's paid for (and I can afford another), He told me to go test drive something I was dreaming about. Since one of my best friends had given me a Louis Vuitton bag for Goldie's diaper bag before she died, He asked me to stop feeling guilty of the gift every time I picked it up, learning to enjoy the blessing.
After every exercise, I talk with the Holy Spirit about how my heart feels. Does it feel guilt? Does it feel shame? Does it still feel like I'm unworthy of receiving? And if it does, I let Father get in there a little bit deeper and teach me about my worth.
I'm completely aware this blog can be misinterpreted, and many will only hear my promotion to go spend money. But the thing is, the feeling behind money was simply my personal indicator of a heart problem. I'm completely aware of the orphan, slavery, and poverty problem around the world, and Luke and I prioritize these in our giving. But if I believe that my Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and that there's never any lack in heaven….then He has enough for ALL. He has enough for me to get my hair done at a salon without feeling guilty that I didn't use all my money to end world hunger. (:
Alright friends, this is getting long. Write out your thoughts below, and let's get an online dialogue going about our worth and ability to receive.
Do you feel as valuable as Father says you are??