I don’t like to talk much about what I am or am not ‘doing’ for Lent. It all feels a bit ‘look at me as I pick up my trumpet and have a big ol’ toot!’ However as I have entered Lent and put my plans into action I have realised that it might be a really useful resource for other people as well. So I thought I’d share after all!
This Lent I’m taking part in a Consumer Detox. It’s all based on a book by the same name by Mark Powley and I’ve based my plans on the back pages of the book which contains tips and ideas for detoxing your life in all things money and spending. I heard about it through Tearfund and am now following the daily Lent blog by the author which you can find here if you’re still interested by the end of the post!
The book doesn't provide any easy answers but it does provide a lot of good thoughts. Most of all it invites you onto a journey to see what those thoughts mean for you and your lifestyle. Lent seemed as good a time as any to give it a go so I have embarked on a Consumer Detox which consists of no non-food shopping and each week looking at a couple of chapters in the book and the suggestions the author makes for taking the ideas further. These are things like thankfulness, generosity, rhythms of daily life and so on. So it’s not just about denial but about a re-evaluation of your priorities when it comes to how you use your money.
I like the idea of having a break from spending as I find that spending is really is like being on a conveyer belt. As soon as you have what you want you covert the next thing. Just this evening I spied a website selling satchels I have been desiring on the arms of others. There is always something more to want and yet my wardrobe is full. I have more bags than there are days of the week (just!) and by always having the next thing the shine seems to go off what you already have and it just gets sad and dusty in the corner. So a break in spending is the perfect time to rediscover (and be thankful for) what I already have.
This week in my detox is all about being thankful. I am following the author’s advice and as well as not buying anything I am also not asking for anything in prayer either. I am only praying prayers of thanks. What a revelation THAT is! For one in has made me considerably less grumpy. When something happens rather than jump to the negative and bemoan the situation I have had to stop and say thank you for what has gone right.
I’ve also noticed so many things I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. I've been given gifts where I would normally have fished out my wallet. Just yesterday I was given a free hot chocolate and bottle of wine and all I could say was 'Thanks!' and I really was thankful.Today my beloved Husband left me with no breakfast (again – friends will know I moan about this constantly!) no bread, no milk. Nothing. I was just about to get thoroughly annoyed and send him a grumpy text when I realised that whatever I found to eat (and we have plenty!) I would be saying thank you to God for it. My breakfast in front of a Miranda episode of cookies and a banana was suddenly what it really is – a great blessing (and chocolate for breakfast - bonus!).
Because I think we know in our own hearts that we are so hugely ungrateful given how the rest of the world live. And I think the guilt from that stops us from taking a cold hard look at what we do with our money. We are afraid we’ll have to give it all up and live in a commune surviving on home grown mungbeans and sewing clothes from hessian sacks. But perhaps the reality is somewhere different.
At the start of the ‘detox’ it asks you what ‘a place of greater freedom’ would look like in terms of money and spending. For me it’s about having what I need, being grateful for it and when I do buy it being a positive choice that gives a fair deal to the producer rather than an impulse buy as some kind of therapy. It’s about more freedom in life by decreasing what I need to live on. After all what would I rather have, more unused stuff or more time on my hands to do what I love? No contest. So if this rings any bells or you’d just like to know more then check out Mark's blog for lots of great idea for a detox with a difference this Lent!