One of the things that struck me about Hatmaker's project is the relativity of wealth and sacrifice. What might be really hard for one person to give up might be merely a matter of course for someone else, and meanwhile someone who does not have the resources or agency to give something up for spiritual kicks (so to speak) may well be rolling her eyes right now.
I mentioned that Hatmaker gave her new cowboy boots away; she left them with other donated shoes at the altar during worship service. How's this for a complicated reaction... I was impressed by this sacrifice. I looooove my Carson Frye boots and would be extremely unlikely to part with them voluntarily. But then, when Hatmaker casually mentioned that she replaced her boots soon thereafter, I admit that I was a little judgy. How in the heck can I impugn a sacrifice that I'm not myself willing to make??
So there's that.
I have been wondering about the nature of sacrifice. We have one income. We live in an affluent community. We are incredibly fortunate that we are able to live pretty darn comfortably on our one income, thanks to a church that has the resources and desire to pay its ministers well. Yet the decision to have one parent at home means that we cannot afford a lot of things that other folks in our community can. Does that necessarily mean we are "making sacrifices?" Maybe it's a relative sacrifice, but we are still considerably more comfortable than, say, a family trying to scrape by on one minimum wage income. It's hard for me to reconcile putting a positive value on the "sacrifices" we make when other people simply do not have the agency to make such decisions. The working poor are in many ways themselves the sacrifice of an unjust economy. Our economy is dependent upon people willing to work for very low wages.
So there's that.
I loved that Hatmaker was honest about how hard it was to give up certain luxuries. Her honesty was contagious, because I started being more honest with myself about how much I want. I think of myself as someone who at the very least dips her toes in simple living. Even more so, I am definitely someone who is uncomfortable with unchecked consumerism. But I think I have pretended to be less consumerist than I actually am. When I'm completely honest with myself, it's astounding the very long list of things I want and/or wish we could afford. (And it doesn't even take into account the many things we do spring for.) Here's just a small sampling of my wish list:
When I'm completely honest with myself, I think "I want that" about three hundred times a day. What do I do with all this want?
- I wish I had a racing bike, triathlon suit, and enough spare cash to sign up for another race this season.
- I wish we could have signed Juliette up for summer camp, because she would have loved it.
- I wish we could renovate our bathroom.
- I wish we could put built-in bookshelves in our living room.
- I wish we had a larger rug in our living room, and comfortable sitting chairs.
- I wish we could replace our broken dishwasher.
- I wish I could get that black and white skirt like the one Ann Voskamp wore at the Festival of Faith and Writing. Also, more cute clothes that fit well.
- I wish we could afford airfare to visit family in the coming year.
- I wish we could afford to get a babysitter more often.
- I wish we could afford a pool membership.
- I wish Ben could go back to school without worrying about the cost.
I think there will have to be a Part 3.