You Kind of Stand Out
“Are you going to get a visit from Santa?” This is the most prominent question my almost 2-year-old has gotten as we have been out and about this month. All the well wishers and admirers of my child just want to know if Santa is going to come to her. I always tell them she is scared of him, ha. I really want to say, “Santa doesn’t have our address but Jesus visits daily.” Not even kidding. I never had Santa growing up, she will not have Santa, her future siblings will not have Santa. We may stick out in a culture that promotes Santa like he is the end all to Christmas, but what is so wrong about being different? Should I try to fit in just because I am afraid of what people will say? Should I back down because I don’t want to seem weird? Should I make funny excuses so the well-meaning people aren’t offended?
Our culture celebrates many things I don’t understand. Halloween, Santa, bunnies at Easter, Leprechauns. We are a strange bunch if you think about it. But in today’s society what seems to be even stranger is when people choose not to celebrate these events in the “traditional” manner. Society has made these things such the cultural norm that when people choose to go against they grain they are thought of as strange. It can be frustrating at times, honestly, because I don’t want Christmas cards with Santa on them or a month of the year where even commercials are scary (a.k.a Halloween). I don’t want to go with the grain. I’m not really fond of the way the grain goes so can’t I just stick out?
My honest thought is I don’t know why more people don’t stick out? Why are there so many that choose to go with the grain instead of making up their own mind? Why fit in? Are we afraid of what will be said or what they will think?
Think Outside Culture
As believers, what makes us different? What sets us apart from the world around us? Not in a bad way, but in a holy way? Could someone look at us and see a difference? Do we act differently in public? Do we speak with love? Do we have a line in the sand that we have chosen not to cross? Do we think outside of the culturally acceptable box?
Debt. It is not a pretty thing but it seems to be the mindset of many. Can’t afford it? No problem, go ahead and take out that loan. You can pay it off in about 20 years. What is the root of debt? Is it really because we “need” so much or because we are trying to hard to keep up with everyone around us?
This year my husband has really gotten into Dave Ramsey. He listens to his show, recently got his book (early Christmas present, pictured below) and talks about him at least once a day. I have shared here before about our struggle in 2015. Well, 2016 was a turn around for us. We didn’t start making more money or have an inheritance kick in or anything like that. We simply learned to stop accepting what culture told us.
Everywhere you look you see people living outside of their means. They go in debt over houses, cars, clothes, toys, and accessories, they can’t afford to pay for up front. We all feel this pressure to keep up with society.
Bigger, faster, brighter, better. Buy, buy, buy, don’t save it.
What does buying it all accomplish? We are driven by immediate gratification. Why save and pay cash when I can buy it now on credit? That’s what credit is for right?
Is this what is good for us or what we accept because there seems to be no harm in it? Is debt good? Is this mentality okay? Maybe it is time to think outside of the cultural box concerning more than just our beliefs?
Breaking the Norm
It is expected that children will celebrate Christmas with Santa. It is expected that gifts will be under the tree. It is expected that debt will be racked up. What if we expected something different?
I am breaking the norm by not following the culture and doing the whole Santa thing. We don’t do Halloween. I don’t like to think of bunnies bringing eggs, it’s weird. Culture doesn’t suit us when it comes to Holiday’s and it doesn’t suit us when it comes to finances or faith either. I truthfully think if we started to break the norm of a mountain of gifts parents would not be as stressed out. Christmas is so tense for many because they know toys aren’t cheap, gadgets aren’t free and Christmas gets expensive. As parents, we panic and we stress because we know that’s another bill for the Visa.
It doesn’t have to be.
What if we overcame that stress by fighting the fear of what people would think of a humble Christmas? What if we raised our children not to make mile long lists and to instead, give back or pick one item? Maybe breaking the norm starts with us and it means overcoming fear of others thoughts and doubt that it will somehow ruin Christmas.
Establishing healthy money habits now will not ruin Christmas for our children. It could change their lives, though. It could be exactly what their generation needs to succeed. If they see us, as parents, live in debt then what will they do? But if they see us break the norm, overcome the fear and walk in financial freedom maybe they can too?
It is a sacrifice and you do have to choose to live like no one else, but who needs all the stuff anyways? Who are we trying to keep up with? Isn’t freedom better than social status? We can be the ones to teach them that you control money and it does not control you. Debt is not our friend. Status is not achieved with stuff. And, living paycheck to paycheck is not the only option.
Fixing Our Eyes
When I sat down to write this post money was not on my mind, funny how Holy Spirit does that.
Fear drives us to do things without God’s consent. Racking up debt, taking out loans, spending and never saving. We fear the thought of not having. We might even fear not being noticed. But fear is not of God. Fear is bondage, but peace in Christ is freedom.
This Christmas would be a great time to fix our eyes on Christ by being faithful stewards of our finances. What if this year we gave our children the gift of learning how to budget? Or the gift of setting up a savings account so they won’t have to take out loans for college? This could be the year we begin to teach them how to handle the finances God brings into our homes.
Are we stewarding His blessings well or are we spending too much?
Pray and ask God about stewardship with finances. I highly recommend picking up a copy of “Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey. It could revolutionize your spending and your families future.
Also, as a reminder to not fear what others may think of us stepping out of the norm, grab today’s print. Then look up 2 Timothy 1:7-8. We can overcome together and walk in greater stewardship as the new year approaches.