Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Needs vs. Wants: Balance or Go Overboard?

I'm in a war with myself: needs versus wants. For months, I've been struggling with this. For example, I loathe our living room furniture. I know exactly what kind of furniture I want for that room. I've been to the furniture store, looked at the options, sat on the couches, and...coveted. I want new furniture. But, I don't need it. While our couch is not particularly comfortable, and it's certainly dirty from eleven years of children, it's not broken. It's not like my family is having to sit on the floor (and if they were, would that really be so bad?).

I become more and more frustrated with myself and my children when we whine about not getting something we want. I realize that I'm the one who's spoiled my children (and myself) to this point, and it's difficult to reverse that mindset. Recently, I find myself often saying, There are people in this world who don't even have food to eat. Don't complain. We have more than we need.

In his book, Radical, David Platt says:

...the war against materialism in our hearts is exactly that: a war. It is a constant battle to resist the temptation to have more luxuries, to acquire more stuff, and to live more comfortably. It requires strong and steady resolve to live out the gospel in the middle of an American dream that identifies success as moving up the ladder, getting the bigger house, purchasing the nicer car, buying the better clothes, eating the finer food, and acquiring more things.

Convicting to the core, isn't it? Only, for me, this is just one of many passages God has led me to over the last few months. He has practically placed books, passages, blogs, and more on this topic right in front of me.

My family has started taking small steps towards giving our time and resources to those in need. Yet it's not enough. Since I've begun to open my eyes to the needy and hurting, locally and world-wide, I find myself more and more disgusted with the way my family has lived.

Just last night, Mark and I sat down for an hour to watch one of our favorite t.v. shows. Ten minutes in, I was fidgety and couldn't concentrate. I was frustrated with the time we were wasting and the t.v. we were staring at. I sat there and looked around the room at all the stuff that just sits atop tables and hangs on the walls, collecting dust. Stuff. And there are people who don't even have homes.

I know what you're thinking: she's gone off the deep end. No, I haven't...not yet. But maybe I should. Right now I'm searching for balance in this area. But I'm beginning to wonder if maybe there's no balance to be found. Maybe I am to go overboard...


  1. I so identify. I cannot even leave a comment right now without writing and erasing for lack of balance. It is a war, and only God can direct me on it. Just saying I'm in the midst of it too.

  2. Radical completely changed the way our family views "stuff". We read it three times last year and prayed that the change that needs to take place in our hearts would. But it is HARD..to fight the war against the way we have been raised and what others will think. HARD stuff!

  3. Radical was definitely a kick to the stomach for me, so I understand exactly what you mean. I'm disgusted with myself at times when it seems like I'm always wanting more, when I already have more than some will ever have in their lifetimes.

  4. This is a struggle for me as well. In fact, since the beginning of the year, I have taken bags and boxes of useless clutter from my home. It has hit me hard that we live in excess. I try to curb my thoughts and actions to reflect my attitude and work to share the same with my children. The process is slow. I want new furniture too, but I don't need it.

  5. Hey Rebekah! I know just what you mean. I read Radical about 8 weeks ago and was humbled beyond anything I had felt before. I'm taking baby steps to give myself more and more to what God wants vs. what I want.

  6. Jamie - glad to know I'm not in it alone!

    Melissa - WOW! Three times!!

    Heather - You make me smile! :-)

    Brandi - Living in excess...us too.

    Jill - HEY!!! Didn't know you're a blogger! Baby steps...me too.

  7. I think you are right..maybe there's not a balance. To me, the key is doing things from a pure heart with pure motives, out of love for God and NOT out of guilt. That's when the true change comes. It certainly is a shift in thinking, but I believe "Radical" really isn't radical. It only seems so because of how far we have drifted from the gospel. Deny yourself. Take up your cross. Follow.