A few days ago became a holiday for me. August 16 was a day of celebration. This is the day I decided to wait for since last summer. In the summer of 2015, I felt challenged and called to give up shopping as I stared at my overflowing closet. Crazy, right? For one year I didn’t buy myself clothes that would just keep ridiculously filling my closet. Yes, it was a challenge. But challenges can bring out the best in us and I learned so much about myself throughout this year. August 16 was the day I decided to end this endeavor. It was a rewarding day to say the least.
I’ve had a few people ask me how I feel after the year and what I’ve learned. It has been a few days and I’ve bought a few clothing items that I’ve been saving up for over the past few months. My mind has been jumbled with little time to sit down and remember where I was one year ago compared to now. Here I am with a challenge conquered still wondering why in the world did I give up shopping for one whole year?
I gave up shopping because it was something I knew I needed to do. Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever had a gut feeling that wouldn’t let you think of anything else besides that one thing you had to do? Those feelings haunt me and don’t let me sleep at night. When I knew that this was something I had to do, I couldn’t let myself find excuses for an escape. I accepted the challenge and looked ahead to this new adventure. Difficulty awaited me but so did reward.
The biggest change I faced this year was how full my wallet was. There was actually cash in my wallet, people. From being a person who spent all her paycheck on shopping, coffee, and food, I noticed a slight increase in my savings. My money wasn’t coming to me for a quick visit, I actually had money camping out in my purse! Crazy, right? I never had to worry about gas money or food while on the road or expenses that needed to be paid. God continued to provide for me and instead of swiping my card at the mall, I put the money in a place where it was needed or where it could grow.
My eyes were opened to where I put my money. Where we put our money often shows where our hearts are. I wouldn’t say I was putting my money towards my looks and outward appearance last year. I would instead say I was spending all of my money on myself. I was selfishly throwing money away for my wants not my needs, creating a mentality that what I was being given was all mine with no room for generosity. Focusing on our wants more than our needs creates an empty life. Yes, we need clothing. But if I never shopped again, I have enough clothing to last me the rest of my life! But if we have the resources and ability to bless people with what we’ve been given, that brings so much more meaning and purpose to life than a full closet.
What this year has left me with is a perspective on our grasp of things. When I first decided to give up shopping, my hand was in a clenched fist. It was very difficult to see something I wanted to buy and not go try it on with the possibility of a purchase. As the days and weeks and months dragged on, I slowly let go with empty hands. How much more freeing it is to go about life with empty hands! No burdens, no things to weigh you down.
Holding on to our things can be dangerous because they are temporary. When that thing fails to exist or gets lost or breaks, we are left disappointed and dysfunctional. We may not know what to do with ourselves. Imagine losing your phone for three days. A device you use for weather, time, communication, entertainment, capturing moments… What would you do without it? There’s a scary question.
If I can leave you with one thing today, it would be a challenge that you can take or leave. Let go of something for awhile. A day, a week, a month, or even a year. Let something go that has a grip on you as you hold it in your hands. What is one thing that absorbs your focus and energy that could be used for a better purpose? What can you give up in order for you to give more to others?
Not spending my money on clothes gave me more reason to bless others with my money or be able to create more memories with friends on trips or special events. Giving up something leaves a space for something better to fill it. If you feel challenged today, I encourage you to not let this gut feeling pass. Trust yourself and see what happens when you let go. See how you react without that one thing and how much you rely on it. I promise you after the difficult beginning of your journey, you will experience freedom with a new perspective on who and what you are living your life for.