Monday, August 18, 2008

Convicted at the Mall

You'd never know we were in the midst of an economic recession judging from the crowds at the Park Meadows Mall yesterday. It more resembled the Saturday before Christmas. We drove around for almost 10 minutes looking for a parking spot. It was ridiculous.

I've never really been a huge fan of the mall. I'll go occasionally to shop, but it's far from my favorite place to spend my time. Yesterday as I walked into the mall, I was hit hard with the materialism of our culture. We entered through the food court and literally every single table was full. There were long lines at all of the restaurants and strollers and shopping bags everywhere. I suddenly got really sad. I wondered how many in the crowds of shoppers had any idea what the rest of the world is dealing with right now. And if they are aware, do they care?

It's hard for me to believe that many people would be so calloused that they would willingly ignore the needs of so many suffering people. I actually had a moment where I saw myself standing on a chair in the food court and yelling, "How can you just eat and shop like normal?! Do you guys have any idea what's going on in Haiti? How kids get one meal a day and that's just if they're lucky? What is wrong with you?"

Of course I didn't do that. I just walked through the food court and continued shopping. But I couldn't really enjoy the day because I kept thinking about Youvens. And about whether I should feel guilty about the $40 hat I bought. Where do I draw the line? Does being a good steward of my money mean buying only the necessities and giving the rest away? Or is it okay to spend money on something I don't need if I regularly give money to the poor?

I think maybe I got a tiny understanding of what fired up the Old Testament prophets. Have you ever had a "prophet" moment like this? I'm struggling now with what I'm supposed to do with my experience yesterday. I have no doubt the Holy Spirit was the One convicting me. But what do I do now?

3 comments:

nate said...

I feel you becky...my in-laws are over in guatemala right now delving out a little James 1:27 right now.

I can't go to the mall anymore for the same reasons you point out, and besides...I've been unemployed for over a month, and because I used to work for a non-profit I don't collect any govt. benefits. Scary times, but certainly not as scary as the dads in Haiti.

Juli Jarvis said...

I hear you too. In fact, I wrote something similar to this recently as well (Aug. 3rd). It was about a blog from a girl that had decided to go on a "Fashion Fast" for a whole year--and blog about it. Can you imagine that? I really took it to heart -- no, I'm not going on a "Fashion Fast" for a year, but it did change my thinking & spending impulses. This weekend, while returning from a Compassion event in Great Falls, MT we stopped to shop in Billings, and I actually thought in terms of the children I've seen in our projects. "Let's see now -- $30.00 for this shirt I want -- that would take care of a child for a whole month...$75 for this suitcase -- that would be two kids and a little more for the Malaria Fund." It was easy to think, "I don't really need that." If I can just keep thinking in these terms, I think I can sponsor another child before long. I would never criticize you for buying the hat or anything else-- I'm speaking more to myself than anyone here.
And speaking of "Prophet Moments" -- check out what happened to me yesterday morning (I posted the story on my blog just now).

Amber said...

I was just struck today too by the difference in our plights. My CSA farm lost much of its crops in this recent rain--I'm so sad! But at the same time, I'm going to be fine. I can still just go to Kings and buy some corn.
It made me realize that even when we have hardship here, it just doesn't compare. Those around the world who lose their crops have no other options. I don't know what it's like to have no options.