One of my original reasons for wanting to do this experiment is to “reveal the things that control me”. By stripping down to essentials in spending and living, the hope is that my compulsions will rear their ugly heads so they can be held up to the light and dealt with.
After having my wallet on lock-down for 17 days, I see too many compulsions in my life. The compulsion to stock my cupboard and fridge beyond what one person needs. The compulsion to devour chocolate. The compulsion to shop for new books and CD’s. The compulsion to eat bigger quantities than what my body needs. The compulsion to stay on the internet longer than necessary for basic communication and information gathering. The compulsion to subscribe to magazines I barely have time to read.
A compulsion by definition is “an irresistible impulse”. If I believe in any kind of power in living my life alongside a Powerful and Loving God, then if I am tapping into that power nothing should be “irresistible” in my life. Or another way to look at it is that to live under compulsion is to be controlled by something other than my Maker. So compulsions are sort of out of compliance with how I desire to live.
I truly want my life to be about loving my Creator, and loving creation—just another way of saying what Jesus commanded “Love the Lord your God….. and love your neighbor as your self.” A favorite quote of mine is by the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh who said, “To me, practicing mindfulness in the act of consuming is the basic act of social justice.” Practicing mindfulness includes asking questions such as- am I consuming more than my fair share? Where did this product come from and what were the working conditions of the people who made it? What is the impact of this product on the environment? Just because it is cheaper, does that mean I should buy it? Do I really need this? Am I enjoying this or mindlessly expending it?
So by examining and addressing my compulsions I am not only offering myself up to better alignment with my Maker, I am also making a baby step towards justice for those who suffer in global poverty.