Sunday, November 6, 2011

Discipling Girls: Are We Teaching Materialism?

When we talk about discipling our girls, we have to deal with an uncomfortable issue.

They copy us.

Our boys merely admire us. They're looking, someday, to find a wife just like us (hopefully we're that admired :)). The mothering stakes are still very high, but the relationship is not about emulation.

Today, we're only discussing materialism.  What wisdom or folly are we passing to our girls about it?

I strongly suspect that modern, first-world girls are waiting longer to marry, partially because of materialism. They either want to have nice things gathered from loot made in their own careers, or in the careers of their husbands. Struggling financially is not romantic...though perhaps it once was.

Having a house, career, husband, and vacations (and kids, for that matter) that are inferior to their friends', seems like hell to them. Materialism feeds off jealousy, greed, comparison, and ignorance.

Non-Christian girls put off marrying for a myriad of reasons, but our Christian girls need not follow suite--especially not because of materialism. For in Christ, we have wisdom; we know storing up treasures in heaven is the goal. Here on earth, we mustn't gather more than we need for our own house. Excess goes to the poor, not to pad our egos.

My own mother, not a Christian, wanted things. She had grown up poor, as one of 10 children in a two-bedroom house. Living similarly as an adult was the last thing she wanted. She had catching up to do.

Despite not marrying rich, she had a ton of clothes. We went through our share of couches, even on a military salary. My mom worked full-time for certain periods, but not when we were overseas. Things made her happy (or so she thought). She compared and felt inferior when she couldn't measure up.

I copied her while I was single, and for a shorter time, while married.

Also not in my money-managing favor? My father gave both my sister and me one hundred dollars a month as pre-teens, rather than raising my mother's child support. I used it for all my "needs". It ruined me, financially. My father, too, had grown up poor, without faith, and believed in things.

I say this not to tear my parents down. They were merely responding to what we all respond to, without the wisdom of the Bible, and without the help of the Holy Spirit. She was a good mother, and he had his moments as a father, but they parented without divine wisdom or prayer.

God did not leave me alone in my sin. By the grace of God, I'm cured! Two-and-a-half years of underemployment, along with Holy Spirit whisperings, have changed me at my core. When I think about who I used to be, I can scarcely believe the change of heart. Praise God! These last years have been my best ever...for they rescued me. I live with new wisdom, new freedom.

Materialism is bondage, like all sin.

As a reformed clothes horse and materialist, I must ask you something.

How many handbags do you have? And shoes? How many changes of clothes? Do you get your nails done....despite the fact that your hands are never pictured on TV?

How often do you feel like a new couch is in order? Or a new dining table? When you get sick of them? Or when they're so worn they belong out on the curb for trash pick-up?

Do you live for dinners out? Regular vacations....not of the thrifty type? Are you always looking for more square footage?

This week at the library, I picked up Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living, by Tsh Oxenrieder of Simple Mom and Simply Living Media. She presents some compelling data on page 20.  In 1950, the square footage of a new, single family home was about 983. In 1970, it was 1,500. In 1990, it was 2,080, and in 2004, it was up to 2,349.

What did Americans do with all that extra square footage? We filled it with things we didn't need, got jobs outside the home, and put our kids in daycare and endless after-school activities, so we could keep up with the Joneses and say it's impossible to live on one income anymore.

Are we happy? Are our marriages intact and healthy? Do we have time to eat real food around the table together? Are we as women empowered and liberated, as we try to make the bills as single, divorced mothers? (80% of second marriages end in divorce.)

My "we" here has a collective meaning only, by the way.

Are we saving and giving? Are we storing up treasures in heaven? Do we believe in the family anymore? What percentage of our households represent a married couple with children, with the man solely supporting the family? Only 7% of American households.

Materialism, spurred on by Satan, (as all deceit is), has ruined America. When I read that unemployment could rise to 50% as the economy recovers from the sin of greed, I don't pass it off as pessimistic. The argument is compelling. Juggling several part-time jobs as the only option, without health benefits, will become more commonplace. Will there be enough part-time jobs to go around? (I don't read the blog linked in this paragraph. I came across the same information somewhere else, but I couldn't find the first link)

If our faith doesn't set us right, the economy will. Life must change in America and in other first-world nations. I (halfway) welcome the hard lessons. The foundation of our country will ultimately strengthen as a result.

As mothers, let's take inventory of our hearts. Where do we store our treasure? What are we teaching our daughters? What is our definition of enough? Is it the same as God's?

It needs to be.

Do you remember this post about enough, from the Living Proof Ministries Blog? A powerful read. A paradigm shift we need to read and reread, every time we want more.

photo credit


Sandi said...

Great post. I came from a poor family and made those declarations that I wouldn't live in poverty when I had my own family. God got a hold of me at 19 and started to change all that. Between the mission field and not being able to find work and huge debt, it has only been in the last 3 years that we aren't struggling to survive. Those lean years have effected how we live now. But we have to constantly re-evaluate or it is so easy to get sucked into the world's version of living. And as for nails and clothes....I'd rather buy books lol! My 11 year old has followed my footsteps. Sometiems I wish she'd care more about how her hair looks :o)
Thanks for sharing this and I loved the last article you shared.

Christine said...

I bought so many books as a teacher that I could never get ahead financially, between that and my love for clothes. Furniture wasn't so much my thing.

Books still tug on my heart! I am using the library more and trying to let go of the need to own more books. We have so many that some are hiding under beds. :(

I wish libraries would carry more Christian material.

Thank you for weighing in here, Sandi. Always love your perspective!

Terri Tiffany said...

Oh wow-- you are sooooo right! After four years of underemployment--I learned my lesson too! Before that my husband's income was over 100,000 and I though yay, I can now buy new furniture and clothes and get my toes done every month etc etc. I did all that. None of it helped us when our lives crashed. None.