During the holiday season, it is very easy to feel like our current possessions are "lacking" and "deficient". Everywhere you turn, there is an advertisement for this or that. Even though you may only hear them in passing, they do affect you deeply. The advertisements are created to MAKE you feel want...like you are "less" if you don't rush out and purchase their item. Or, during this season, you are less if you don't rush out and purchase it for your friend, spouse, child, etc.
Recently, I took my grandma to the mall because she wanted to get some gift certificates for Christmas. I hadn't been out to walk the mall in a long time...and I found it completely overwhelming. The people, the noise, the bright and shiny objects! I started to find myself looking in the windows ... and feeling that WANTING that I so hate. I was in the mall for literally 5 minutes or less, and in that little space of time, the sirens sucked me in. I walked out chanting to myself "look straight ahead, there is nothing you need"! I am so glad I don't have to deal with that anymore this season!
I started to think about other ways that WANT is created in my life. I have discussed this before, but it's worth doing it again. It's an ongoing battle, and if you don't think about it and how it happens, it will control you.
I started with my email inbox. I went through and unsubscribed from every single newsletter, update, etc. that I receive. I was astounded at how many businesses/spammers have my email. It took several hours to complete this, and I am still doing "maintenance" unsubscribing daily. I needed to do this because there are several really fun crafty sites that I get updates for...and even though they are homemade, ethical, etc, I do not need them. Opening those emails only creates want. Having less emails makes me spend less time at the computer and have less distraction in general. I also unsubscribed from several discussion groups that I just didn't have time to read. From now on, I will make a point to be more protective of my email address. I know that spammers can get it without me knowing, but I will do all that I can.
The other "tool of wanting" that I've been thinking about lately is the TV. I know that most of you will agree with me on this one...but I want to talk about a certain genre in particular that I used to find harmless. The two channels that I used to give myself "permission" to watch, HGTV and TLC, are experts in creating want not just in their advertising but within the programming. What?! Say it isn't so! Yes. Think with me for a moment.
"Dream House", "I Want That", "National Open House"...these are three programs that create want in myself when I watch them. Basically, when you are looking over and over at lifestyles, people, and possessions that don't align with your values or your budget, it will only leave you "wanting". When you see "excess" as the norm, your standards and expectations start to change. The same principle applies to reading gossip magazines (i.e. People, Us, etc.). If you read it enough, focus on it enough, and desire to KNOW and imitate other's lifestyles enough...you will continue to WANT.
On TLC, there is a show called "What Not to Wear". The hosts go into someone's closet, basically tell them what a horrible dresser they are and how ugly they look, and they throw away (donate?) all of their clothes and give them $5,000 to go shopping for a new wardrobe. First of all, clothing is an extremely emotional and personal choice. When you come in an dissect someone's wardrobe, it's traumatizing. Secondly, I could buy a whole army a wardrobe with $5,000 (does anyone else think that is insane?!). With that said, I can see how it sucks people in because I used to be very entertained by it. But when I would watch them go shopping, I started to wish that I could just go on a shopping spree like that. I WANTED to be them. TV turns you into a happy little consumer.
John Piper, one of my favorite pastors and authors, calls TV the "great life-waster". He has this to say in his book "Don't Waste Your Life":
"The main problem with TV is not how much smut is available, though that is a problem. Just the ads are enough to sow fertile seeds of greed and lust, no matter what program you're watching. The greater problem is banality. A mind fed daily on TV diminishes. Your mind was made to know and love God. Its facility for this great calling is ruined by excessive TV. The content is so trivial and so shallow that the capacity of the mind to think worthy thoughts withers, and the capacity of the heart to feel deep emotions shrivels."So, there you have it. In addition to creating WANT, watching TV turns you into a shallow idiot.
Turn it off! (Please don't tell me that TV is educational. Get out there and LIVE life instead of learning about it on your TV).
I want to stop wanting. Looking back at the definition...I am not lacking, missing, deficient, or in need of anything. The only thing I am in "need" of is God's grace and forgiveness daily. I want to be satified by Christ alone.