“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)
I saw a quote the other day that said something along the lines of only in America do we wait in line and trample others for sale items one day after giving thanks for what we already have.
You see, I love black Friday shopping. I first experienced this adrenaline rush when I was a young newlywed. At that time, KMart opened their doors to shoppers at 7 AM the day after Thanksgiving. Back then, there were no stores open 24 hours, not even gas stations were open through the night. Most department stores opened at 10:00 AM, so KMart opening at 7:00 was a BIG deal! We didn’t have much money to buy anything, but it was thrilling to be there. It almost felt illegal driving in the dark and shopping in a store when typically the doors would be locked. A few years later, a rival store, Zayres, pushed the envelope even more and kept their doors open 24 hours for the week before Christmas. I remember one time, my husband and I went at 2:00 AM. We didn’t buy anything; we just wanted to be able to say we went shopping at 2:00 AM!
Fast forward a few years. Stores like Walmart entered the scene. They had extended hours throughout the year. Between Black Friday and Christmas Eve, they would often stay open until midnight. Black Friday shopping started at 6:00 AM.
Fast forward a few more years. Some Walmart stores stayed open 24 hours throughout the year. Thanksgiving and Christmas, though, the doors were locked. Employees were able to spend those days with their families celebrating the season. The day after Thanksgiving, most opened their doors at 5:00 AM. Shoppers didn’t disappoint retail expectations. Long lines of people stood outside in the cold (at least where I live it is usually cold that time of year) in hopes of being the first in the store to take advantage of a good deal on something a special person in their life desired for Christmas. My husband and I were always in those lines. With four kids, there was always something that was such a great price during Black Friday we figured we’d be crazy to not take advantage of the sale. One year we battled crowds for the handheld Gameboy games. Three of our kids wanted that. One year, Tickle me Elmo was the coveted gift of our youngest…and hundreds of thousands of other little ones across the nation. My sister-in-law was able to grab three of them–one for our daughter, one for her son, and one for her nephew. (As it turned out, our kid was afraid of the dang thing!) One year it was a 3 in 1 game table for $79! A perfect gift for adolescents–air hockey, a pool table and a ping pong table to go in the lower level of the house.
Fast forward to today. Stores that are open 24 hours are common. The majority of grocery stores and gas stations are as well. Black Friday shopping has slowly started to take over Thanksgiving Day. Stores like Walmart are no longer closed even on Thanksgiving and the Black Friday madness has become even madder. It is common now for people to be trampled as crowds storm the doors. It is common for fights to break out over sale items. I saw a video from this years’ shopping madness where a grown adult yanks a waffle iron from the hands of a child, no more than five years old. A fist fight between that woman and the boy’s mom ensues. Three years ago, my husband, daughter and I went to Walmart. We needed to replace our TV and they had a small flat screen for a very good price. The store wasn’t closed so there was no line outside, but all the Black Friday deals were covered in plastic. At the appropriate time, an employee would remove the plastic and people could calmly take the item off the pallet. Yeah, right. There was chaos as greedy, impatient shoppers pushed the employee out of the way and tore at the plastic to score a television set. We left the store without a television and with a bad taste in our mouths for what Christmas shopping had become.
And yet…I still love to go and try to snag some good deals. I won’t take time away from my Thanksgiving and family to do so, but around 9:00PM, we will head out the door in hopes of saving some money on presents we would buy anyway. This past week, we stood in line for over 90 minutes at Kohls.
Wait…let me correct that:
My husband and daughter stood in line while I shopped. The line stretched around the entire store! We didn’t see any fights, but there was a Rogers policeman talking to a woman in the parking lot. She apparently had scratched another shopper and was told to leave. She wasn’t happy leaving without the deals she most likely stood in line, outside, in the cold, to get.
I have a confession to make.
I love the things of this world. I love shopping. I love to give gifts. It is my love language for sure. I get a thrill from buying things, whether I wait in line for them or simply click and have them sent to my home. I usually feel guilty when all is said and done about how much money I spent, but the spending of it gives me such an adrenaline rush!
John wrote the words that opened this entry to warn us of the trap that loving the things of the world can be. It is a trap I have fallen into time and again. I love not only buying things, but having things. The problem is, I am finding that the more I have, the less satisfied I am with those things. So I desire and go after more. It becomes a cycle similar to that of an alcoholic or drug addict. Few drug addicts start out with heroine. Few alcoholics start out with hard liquor. Over time, though, the desire for a bigger high, a longer escape leads to those harder substances. Yet, they never seem to completely satisfy. One more drink, one more hit…one more Amazon purchase…before you know it, you are hooked. Whether one is hooked on alcohol or spending, the result is the same.
God knows we are not designed to be satisfied by the things of this world. Those things will not last. My husband recently bought a new vehicle. It is shiny and has that new car smell. There is no rust on it. There are no scratches where children have run the handlebars of their bikes down the side. Yet, I am sure in ten years, that new car will not look so new…if it is even running at all. He can follow the owner’s manual perfectly and that vehicle will still, one day, rust and die. It is earthly, temporary. God knows if we learn to love the things of this world that we will only be setting ourselves up for disappointment when those things no longer make us happy because they no longer work or something better has come along to replace them (handheld Gameboy games aren’t in demand anymore…)
Yet, I find myself drawn to the things this world offers. I see what others have and I often want that for myself. I find myself unhappy that we do not own our own home, forgetting that many have no roof over their heads at all. I find myself feeling jealous that my husband’s new car has seat heaters and a heated steering wheel, forgetting that there was a time when I had no vehicle to drive at all. I don’t want to love the things of this world. I know they will rust and fade and die. I know that only what Jesus gives me can last forever, and while I am so thankful for eternal life, I still would have to admit that I am not at the point where I could say, “Take it all, God. As long as I have you I will be content.”
I want to be there though. I really do.