Wednesday, October 20, 2010

To clog or not to clog....(Radical chapter 6)

"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die, so you can live as you wish." Mother Teresa

This is a post for the read-along of the book Radical see Marla's post for others comments. I wrote this a few days ago...but added addeundum at the end today. (10/26)

I am a simple shoe person. I may have a dozen shoes in my closet, but the shoes I wear 95% of the time boil down to 2. Brown sandals in the summer and clogs in the fall, winter, spring.


Oh, I have wasted money being attracted to several other pairs and types of shoes (cowboy boots, Ugg knock-offs, strappy sandals, and for some reason 3 pairs of casual brown sandals, though slightly different, essential filling the same "casual brown sandal" need.) But actually all the others are a waste. A pair of clogs, a pair of sandals...and when I get energetic, a pair of walking tennis shoes.

Which brings me to my conundrum. My angst. Each year I buy a new pair of Dansk clogs. Not because I am frivolous or wasteful, but because I truly DO wear the dickens out of them and they get pretty scruffy, as you can see from the photo above. Now I love the vintage, well worn patina, but I am seriously longing for a new pair of Dansk this season..this pretty brown paisley lovelies.

This is where Radical Chapter 6 comes in. As you know I am participating in a book read-along of the book Radical by David Platt. ...and the tension is back! (needed tension, good tension, but tension all the same.)

Ann Voskamp recently articulated what I am feeling the best when she said:

"Every time I open my wallet, I twist, in conflict."

It is true. I have spent so many years wasting so much money on so many unneeded things. I would be ashamed to say how much. The past 4 or so years, I have been down-scaling, simplifying, peeling back a layer at a time on our life-style, entertainment, spending. Motivated primarily by the desire and need to cover adoption costs, then by the need to fund 4 children's Christian School education, and by the desire to counter "affluenza". Now, most recently, a greater understanding and desire to spend my money on what is significant to God. So like Ann, I twist and turn with purchasing something as common as a cup of coffee.

In Chapter 6, David Platt talks about this very question, "How Much is Enough?" And I must admit, I was "amening" every page. On page 118 he talks about how much money is spent on church buildings vs helping the needy "outside our gates". That has eaten on me for a few years now, even with small little churches, when you see the budgets to keep the lights on and pay for grounds keeping. I craved (and found) the practices of the early church; meeting in each other's homes and use that money that would have gone to a building for better use in God's kingdom. I do not want to offend anyone who might read this, but I am going to be honest with a recent issue in this area.

A few months back I was so touched, burdened and passionate about a young lady in Uganda who has sacrificed all to care for orphans there. I approached our church leadership (where we were attending at the time) asking if there was anyway we could do something to come alongside this young woman. One possibility was selling these necklaces she helps the women around her make, to feed their families. I was told "No. We support 3 missionaries already and in Africa you have to be careful about where the money is being spent." That answer hurt. I pulled in my feelings, and did what I could on a personal level. But, the hurt ripped through me even deeper, a couple months later, when, for several weeks a plea for prayer, and financial support was requested from the pulpit to raise $12000 to resurface the church parking lot. I felt worse, when the totals were given each week on how much had been raised and to pray about what God would have you give. Save children, poverty stricken, widows, orphans, extending the love and message of God to them or put new asphalt on the cracks in the parking lot? How about sell the church building, and meet in our homes and take that money to help orphans? How about that?

{10/26 addition: I am sorry. the above paragraph sounds so self-righteous. :( I think it still makes a point, but I realize, we do not know what God has not yet shown us. I have years upon years coated in more years of spending money selfishly, foolishly, uh, I know, I have nothing but filthy rags wrapped around me. }

I know this is radical! I mean, the author, David Platt, pastors a large church (and has great angst over that fact.) So I understand the tension over where our money is spent, how much is enough and what to do. Like Ann.

I did feel that David Platt soft-peddled it a bit on page 127, where he was talking about feeling guilty. He wrote: "The point is also not that we need to feel guilty whenever we purchase anything that is not an absolute necessity." I wrote in the margins of my book, really big:

WHY NOT!!!???

He goes on to say that a spoon, a pillow, a book are truly not necessities. And I get that. But my "why not" comes from many more significant, pricey and frivolous purchases than a pillow, spoon or book! If I was down-scaled on my purchasing habits to the level of pillow, spoon and book then I would be doing pretty well. But I have many, many, many layers to question and cut before I ever reach pillow, spoon and book! Don't you? So placating my tension with guilt (I would substitute "conviction") over my spending by using those examples as non-necessities I feel is burying the issue. See the answer might be just too hard to reconcile, or find, or be just too radical. I think, like Ann worrying over purchasing tights for her daughters, and my reluctance to buy this years clogs....we do not know WHERE to draw that line. How much is enough? and what do we do with that tension?

Frances Chan, in Crazy Love, threw out a challenge, maybe a first phase goal, of living at the median income level, which I think for his region was around $42k a year. Now I know for some folks, that sounds like a fortune, for others it might be a joke. I don't know the right number. But, just because I have tension and don't know yet, I don't want to fade and let the passion and angst ease up due to time and familiarity of living without the answer. Ann states this well, in her post about being home 31 days since her trip to Guatemala and being terrified that the fire in the belly will die down and that her response is too pitiful.

Me, too, me too. I don't want my not having the answer at the moment to move into no longer asking the question in the future. I know our God is faithful. He will continue to lead us on this journey of peeling back the layers of "affluenza" and surrendering our hearts to the cause of His kingdom. And that all His pilgrims are at different stages of this journey. Like Ann I feel that "now that I have seen, I am responsible...".

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Join us in the reading and blogging of David Platt's Radical, at Marla's blog.


10/26 Addendum

Someone asked me why reading Radical left them feeling depressed, when Frances Chan's book on the same topic (Crazy Love) did not? And I thought about it, because I have felt the same way. I do not know the answer. Could it be writing styles? Could it be where the author was themselves, between the lines, that is coming through? I don't know.

But I did need to remind myself of a couple things in reading Radical. I have a tendency to be performance based. To feel, when I stumble or maybe am not only in left field, but at the wrong ballpark, playing the wrong game FOR MY ENTIRE LIFE!!!! (which Radical makes me feel, to be honest) that God is so dissappointed in me, does not love me. Performance-based, conditional-love. Like all that has gone before has been an absolutely, off the mark waste, and am I REALLY a Christian after all? How could I have been so wrong, for so long, and think that God has EVER said anything to me, or led me, or loved me or.... see where this is going.

BUT. I know that is not truth. God is NOT performance-based. He is grace-based. He is I love you first and then you love me based. So I take a deep breath, and realize, perfection is not the goal. Loving God is the goal. Surrender is the goal. And the is a big world and God has a big plan, and that big plan includes little me in my little yard with my little kids.

The other is that we all have boundaries, places, where God has put us. Limits which He has allowed. He is not asking us alone to solve world hunger. He is asking that we open our heart to whatever mission he puts in front of us. (Radical Chapter 5). And to realize, even the author of Radical does not have it all figured out as he pulls up each week to preach in his multi-million dollar church building. We all might struggle, to different degrees, with what we see as the need and, as this chapter is titled, how much is enough. But God knows that. He has allowed us to come to this point in our lives and will lead us on.

So I let go of the depression. I embrace His love. and I say, dear shepherd, lead on....I am your lamb... baaaaaaaaaa. (Sheep bleat).

4 Things Others Said:

alittlebitograce said...

i'm struggling with similar issues. how much is okay to keep? should i give up eating meat entirely? although i don't think platt was writing from a performance based place, that's what i naturally struggle with. thanks for articulating what's been eating at me.

Marla Taviano said...

Sandee, this post spoke to me in SO many ways I don't even know where to start. So I'm just going to say BLESS YOU. For all of it. Thank you so much for sharing your heart, and it's an honor to be figuring this thing out alongside you.

Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama said...

Wow! Thank you for sharing your heart..I am right there with you and Ann, feeling so caught with EVERY purchase I make {or don't make}...God is working in mighty ways- yay!

Jen said...

If this were a Facebook post, I would click LIKE! Thanks for your honesty.