I went on my first mission trip in May, with the Catholic Campus Ministry group that I am a part of at my college. It was by far the best, most joyful week of my life. To spend a week constantly in the presence of the Lord and my best friends, doing nothing but serving God, separated from the stress of home life and the distraction of my cell phone, I was just beyond happy. My group became very close with the Sister and other worker who run the facility, and have kept in close contact with them for the past year.
Because we are so fond of them, we invited sister to come stay for a few days, to attend our weekly event, Faith Share, and to speak at another event for us the following night.
I was sitting in the campus ministry office when sister arrived to speak for our event that night. I was so excited to see her and we had a great conversation catching up about our lives and where we had seen God working in the past year. She then realized that there were sour patch kids sitting on the table beside her, where we keep all of our snacks. There was hardly half of a mason jar of them, leftover from our Christmas party, and probably a little stale. But Sister was beyond excited. "SOUR BEARS!" she yelled, and took a handful. It was something so simple, yet she was thrilled. When she went back home the next morning, she was given the rest of the bag of "sour bears" to take with her. When handed the bag, she again was ecstatic, she lit up, graciously thanked our campus minister, and in pure thanksgiving said "I would never buy this for myself".
Sour patch kids. She would never buy sour patch kids for herself. When I heard about this it hit me hard, and it stuck.
How much money do I waste on myself, on things that I absolutely do not need? I don't NEED the dark chocolate bar, I don't NEED the new dress, I don't NEED so much of what I ALREADY HAVE, yet I want and I buy so often. There are people who need, and need bad, yet I fulfill so many of my own wants. To make things worse, I often let things go to waste and don't even use them.
"I would never buy this for myself."
Hearing of this conversation changed me. I am so much more conscious of everything that I buy now, and so much more careful not to waste. I rarely need. I often want. There is a huge difference and I have to recognize it. It is okay to treat yourself from time to time; God obviously wants us to be happy and taken care of. But He calls us to be giving, to not overindulge in the things of this world, and to care for the poor in every way that we can. I can settle for the off brand food, fight through the chocolate cravings once in awhile, and for goodness sake wear the same dress to mass a few times a year because God doesn't care that I wore that dress already this spring, just that I am there. Then I can put the money I save somewhere better, like with a charity, or sponsoring a child and her family in poverty. I can put that time I would have spent focused on earthly possessions and the materialistic world in service to others, in prayer for those who need it most. I absolutely should, and I absolutely can. I should be mindful that God provides for me first, and that getting so absorbed in earthly possessions is not at all what He is asking of me. Living a simple life full of service is the life I want to live, but its up to me to get there.
17 If we are rich and see others in need, yet close our hearts against them, how can we claim that we love God? -1 John 3:17 (GNT)
So be mindful of what you are buying. Ask yourself these questions each time.
Do you want it?
Will you use it?
Do you need it?
Does someone else need it?
Does someone else need the money more?
Would Sister buy that for herself?
My life is transforming before my eyes. I still make poor decisions at times, but I, like everyone else, am a work in progress, striving to live perfectly for the Lord. Everyday I see God more clearly and see less of the materialistic earth I have grown so sadly attached to. I could not be happier about it. I pray that you may find yourself saying, "I wont buy this for myself", as I am learning to.