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Evelyn M. Bingham
How many of us would admit to being compulsive in their spending? There are multitudes of ways in which this can surface. It can be as innocent as a trip to the grocery store, and while there, you notice a needed item, or not needed item on sale. You see your favorite brand of salad dressing, barbeque sauce etc, on special, and though you already have an extra one at home, you buy 2-3 more, just in case there isn’t another sale before you need it. There can be a thin line between stocking up on a bargain and obsessive, compulsive buying.
Obsessive buying does not stop at the grocery store, but can carry over to other stores and areas of our lives as well. When Big Lot stores came to this area many years ago, I became such an avid shopper, that looking back; I truly earned the right to be given stock in the company due my loyalty. I still feel a twinge of excitement each time I pass one of the stores, no matter which state I am visiting at the time. I also was obsessed with cigarette smoking, back in the day when it was cool, before anyone, including doctors knew that we were killing ourselves with each deadly puff. After many years of stopping and restarting, but basically just letting the cigarettes burn up in the ashtray, I decided that I’d no longer let this little white stick of tobacco be my master and I stopped cold turkey. Thankfully, I have not succumbed to this smoking, shopping, and addiction again. Bad habits of any type, overeating, smoking, shopping, elective surgeries, excessive drinking, perpetual dieting etc. all must be kept in perspective. I used to always say that I had plenty of will power, what I and so many others needed was won’t power!
For those who are really addictive to compulsive buying, the online shopping or home shopping network shows are a real problem, especially with their $1 down and the rest in 3-4 easy payments gimmick. This makes the purchase seem so much more affordable. Later, they may realize they’re in real trouble when they discover that they are hiding their deals, and finding boxes which have never been opened in closets, garage, car trunks, etc.
Our society is so very deficient when it comes to feelings of self esteem and self worth and self satisfaction. We wrongfully believe, that all of our feelings of unhappiness and self loathing, and feelings of inadequacies can disappear, if we spend excessively on clothing, real estate, gambling, automobiles, electronics and all manners of toys which we purchase for our pleasure, denoting for all to see, that we indeed are happy, adequate, and can afford our deserved and often excessive wants.
We have successfully succeeded, maybe innocently, in spoiling our unsuspecting children to be the notion or expectation, of I want, need, must have, right now, phenomena!
Unfortunately, the children have too many poor examples of wrongful spending, the lottery, casinos, shopping channels, online shopping, unrealistic credit card spending and we must not forget our city, state, and federal government’s miss-spending. We must somehow find the courage to accept ourselves as we are, with our own unique beauty, talents and contributions to make to society. If we valued ourselves enough, we might see that our outward appearance has absolutely no bearing on who you are and the value to someone else’s life that you could be!
We must show to ourselves and to our children that we have the personal strength to overcome our wasteful mindless, compulsive buying, whether it is at the dollar store, thrift store, high end or designer. We must learn that frivolously spending what we have or do not have is wasteful to our money, our time and our strength of character.
Remember, that what is missing or needs fixing in our lives is usually from within, and cannot be soothed for very long with external band-aids especially when surgery is needed! To fix our problems permanently, it must be from the inside, and for this to occur, we must each, be willing and honest enough to personally do the work on ourselves and to seek professional help, if it’s needed.
By Evangelist Barbara Colbert-Brooks
In jump starting the New Year with a true spirit of benevolence, the Book of Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 provides God’s instructions on how to develop a nature of giving generously, continuously, and without discrimination.
“Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” A promise that blessings will be returned to those who are kind-hearted and generous. To “cast” means to send away; sow; spread and; stretch forth. It implies an open hand and a flinging forth of bounty in quantity and direction. Taking no heed to the recipients, but spreading forth to multitudes. The “waters” are as the ocean waves that roll in and out, sending out and returning our blessings back to bless us. Though it may sometimes seem delayed, God promises that after a while, we will see them coming back our way.
“Give a portion to seven, yes, even [divide it] to eight, for you know not what evil may come upon the earth.” The number seven is God’s perfect number, and eight is a step beyond, indicating that we should even go the extra mile. Remember that we can never give too much, as we can never receive too much grace. Giving what we can to others, is a demonstration of love, which is God. As we extend ourselves to others, God will extend Himself for us.
“If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.”
As the clouds when full of rain, empty themselves upon the earth, so shall our blessings be poured upon us. As nature has its seasons and cycles, so shall those who cast their bread upon the waters be blessed in due season. Calamity will fall where it may, and many things are out of our control, but God will sustain in all circumstances and situations.
“He who observes the wind [and waits for all conditions to be favorable] will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.” Life is most uncertain. Yet we must continue to work our faith no matter what the conditions. There is no particular season to give, as it is not governed by natural things, but by trusting in the promise of God’s return harvest. We should sow in all seasons, and God will bless in all seasons.
“As you know not what is the way of the wind, or how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a pregnant woman, even so you know not the work of God, Who does all.” The mortal man cannot fully comprehend the infinite work of nature and the Almighty God. Trusting in Him and his Word without reservation is our only resource.
“In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening withhold not your hands, for you know not which shall prosper, whether this or that, or whether both alike will be good.” We never know when or from where our blessings will come. When we sow indiscriminately, we will be blessed indiscriminately.
Let us cherish these precious words of wisdom deep within our hearts. Always remember that as a man soweth so he shall reap. Do not tarry for tomorrow, for the future is uncertain. Be vigilant and sober only as to the work of God and nature, and to depend solely upon Him, for He is the divine and greatest Giver for all eternity.