While taking a hiatus from buying, I’m more prone to notice how often someone wants to sell me something. Every morning my inbox fills with at least 15 offers to save money by making a purchase. This is not a new trend for Lent; I’ve received them for some time. However, they have a different feel when you automatically delete without finding out what Zulily has on special that day – you might be missing an amazing deal on snow boots or swimsuits, you know.
Another place that I’m more aware of being seen as a customer is in the bloggy world. I subscribe to a large number of blogs about everything from education to moms in LA (because my life is SO similar) to food and, especially now, grain-free recipes. I even follow one that tends to be an end-of-the-world-er, but he’s got so much great information on gardening, composting and living self-sufficiently.
However, most of these bloggers are hopeful to make a buck while they put their time into it, so they have conferences to promote, ebooks to discount, even product giveaways to earn loyalty. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for these writers and small business owners making their living doing what they do; however, I’m aware I’m not just a reader anymore. I’m in the pool of consumers.
One blog in particular (that I love) is geared toward getting more organized. She provides a lot of helpful information on organizing and gaining control over your life. Yes, she even has an ebook to walk you through it (a new task every week). The reason I really appreciate her, though, is because rarely when she gives direction in an organizational goal does she require that you run out and purchase something. Instead she gives many options of looking at what you currently have and repurposing it to meet another goal. Much of what she suggests has more to do with rearranging habits in your life as opposed to where you put the electric bill. This is in direct opposition of what I find in the home-party sphere. So many of these wonderful companies want the same end goal for customers (a more organized life) but rather than focusing on the skill, they focus on the product. We begin to believe, “if i just buy this, I’ll be better at….”
And we’re quite wired to believe these patterns work. That by owning, shopping, buying, consuming X, our life will change dramatically. This is how commerce in our society keeps moving. And the more I see it, the less I trust it. Right now, the surest way to loose my confidence is to offer to sell me something. You might be right – a change in my life might be needed. But a product is not going to fix it.
This morning I read God’s words through the prophet Joel: Change your life, not just your clothes. Come back to God, your God.” (2:13, I have no idea whose emphasis – either the Hebrew or Peterson’s). I thought to myself, “if this were written for the younger context it would say, ‘change your life, not just your music’ because so often we place a marker on the shift from secular to Christian music, especially in the life of young people.
But though music is good, it doesn’t change your life. God’s not selling a new product to try to make life better; he’s looking for a different pattern of life, one that is consumed with the presence of Christ. God doesn’t want the same, slightly improved version of yourself in a gaudy Christianese tshirt. He wants to know that the seed that was planted is growing into a tree that bears the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness and self-control.