Giving up Shopping as a Spiritual Discipline

What?  You thought I would cease thrift shopping as a spiritual discipline for Lent?  Nahhhhh.

Oh, sorry, that’s probably a misleading title.   But it IS the topic of this post!

The Christian season of Lent starts tomorrow (on Ash Wednesday).  It’s a 40-day period of introspection, prayer, and penitence leading up to Easter and commemorating Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness before the start of his ministry.  (Wikipedia can tell you more.)

A variety of Christians observe it in a variety of ways, but a very common practice is to give up something you love to eat/drink/do for the whole 40 days as a way to identify with Jesus’ sacrifice & temptation in the desert and to strip away distractions from your relationship with God.  Common Lenten disciplines include not eating meat; not drinking alcohol; not swearing; no candy; no gossip, etc.  (Not usually all in the same Lent, though!)

Other folks pick something up for Lent, spending daily time in meditation, prayer, kind acts, etc. as a sacrifice of time and a way to grow closer to God.

Hey Leah, this is a style blog! you say.  Why are you nattering on about Lent?

Don’t worry, I’m getting there!

When I’ve given up something for Lent, I’ve tried to make it something that was standing in between God and me.  (For example, in grad school one year I gave up People.com because my increasing procrastination on the site when I should have been studying theology/doing homework put my focus on superficial, sensationalized content instead of more profound stuff.)

Thrift shopping has, at times, been that kryptonite for me.  One summer in grad school (I see a common thread here—grad school is hard and tempts you with inappropriate coping mechanisms), I went on thrifting benders to deal with the lack of direction/meaning in my life outside of school.  (Therapy helped solve that one!  I highly recommend.) (Also, thrifting benders?  I’m just imagining what you’re imagining right now: Leah tripping down the aisles of Last Chance, clothes up to her eyeballs in one hand, mimosa in the other….just kidding, it was much less salacious than that.)

 

Right now, despite the fact that I have a blog all about thrifting, thrift shopping doesn’t consume an inordinate amount of time or energy (or money!) in my life.  Two reasons for this:

  1. I have meaning in lots of other areas of my life and have healthy ways to deal with stress that don’t involve unplugging by SHOPPPPPPPING.
  2. I have found ways to frequent thrift stores (which is truly relaxing and fun for me) without buying a bunch of stuff (which always gives me a high followed by a pretty empty crash.  Wanh wannnnh).  These include thriftstagramming as described here, and capsule wardrobes that help me realize that I already have enough.

 

All in all, giving up thrifting at this time in my life would be a pretty “easy” Lenten fast/discipline without a lot to point me toward God.  So I’ve got between now and tomorrow morning to figure out something more useful/challenging/spiritual-growth-inducing. (Suggestions welcome!)

 

YOU, however, may find giving up thrift shopping or shopping in general to be the perfect Lenten discipline this year.  If so, I say, congrats and good luck!  For inspiration, check out the comments on The Vivienne Files’ post re: her decision to cease shopping for a YEAR (although she did allow herself to buy secondhand…so maybe it’s not the perfect inspiration for readers of a thrifting blog).

Miss Minimalist’s Real Life Minimalists series also has lots of great profiles where folks gave up shopping-as-hobby for a period of time (or forever) and found ample rewards in spirituality, time, happiness, bank account levels, etc.

 

What about you?  Has thrifting ever been something that’s gotten in the way of what’s important in your life, or become an unhealthy go-to in times of stress?  Scroll down to share!  And no shame—after all, I just admitted on a public blog that I used to be addicted to People.com.  :)

And to those who observe it: may Lent draw you closer to your Creator and help you grow in all sorts of good ways.

 

See ya Thursday!

 

 

 

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