How well I remember the years of being an extreme couponer. I would spend hours at home preparing to shop for the best deals, so that I could spend hours at the grocery store(s). Every week. My focus was on saving money – and for many a good reason.
Whether it was during lean financial years or during more comfortable financial years, I knew that a focus on saving money meant that I was being a good steward of what God gave us. I actually loved the hobby and challenge of seeing how much money I could save at the store. Yogurt for $0.09? Eggs for $0.20? How incredibly fun!
I remember thinking during those days that no matter what our financial situation became in life, I would always be a couponer and always spend the time finding all the best deals – because good stewards are good stewards whether they have $10 or $100,000, right?
Well. Yes. But also…
I’ve since learned that seasons change. Circumstances change. Priorities change. Needs change. Meanwhile, God stays the same, and He continues to lead and evolve our focus to become exactly what He needs it to be during each season.
My twenty-something self would be shocked to learn that my forty-something self hasn’t clipped a coupon in ages. (I have pulled them off of food products at the store and used them right then and there – score!) I have evolved from being a coupon clipper to a real food eater – so one might think that my desire for healthy eating has turned me away from clipping coupons and scouring for good food deals. But actually – my focus now goes far beyond both saving money and eating healthy.
God is teaching me more about loving people.
You would think this would be a no-brainer. Something that wouldn’t have to be taught. Love people. Easy peasy. Yes, some of it sure is. But what about the parts of loving others that involve dying to self and surrendering fully to the plans God has for us? This is hard and can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Couponing and deal finding and saving money can be fantastic – as long as it is done intentionally and for the greater purpose of loving people.
A focus on eating real, healthy food can also be fantastic – as long as it is done intentionally and for the greater purpose of loving people.
As God continues to teach me more about living through His Spirit, seeing people, and caring for people as He directs, I’ve found that I no longer want to or have time to use energy to find all the best deals or take pictures of all my groceries to share with you here.
I still very much care about eating nourishing, real food – but no longer is my desire based on earthly health.
Should I continue to eat nourishing, whole foods? Absolutely. Should I continue to be a good steward with my money? Absolutely. Especially as I see so many needs around me. I want to use money wisely so we have plenty to give.
But the ways I “save money” simply involve not frequenting coffee shops or restaurants, choosing Redbox instead of the theater, and shopping the clearance racks when we need clothes because yes, it is still really fun to find a good deal! And if I choose to spend a little more at the grocery store now – it is because I want/need to spend my time loving people instead of spending an hour trying to figure out how to save $3.00.
Being good stewards of our time and energy is just as important as being good stewards of our money.
We can become comfortable and stay put, or we can become comfortable and choose to get uncomfortable.
Gratefully, becoming uncomfortable with Christ is starting to actually become comfortable. We’re learning to settle into this new way of living – the kind that involves letting go of control and trusting God with each day as never before. The kind that involves letting go of plans we made and saying yes to the plans God has orchestrated that are better than we could have ever dreamed of.
And as it turns out, we’re finding that we’re saving money in other ways because as we spend more time loving people, there simply isn’t as much time to shop or pay attention to the latest and greatest gadgets and deals we were drawn to before. :)
So there you go. We’ll continue to save money in any way we can as long as it doesn’t take our focus away from what is truly important: Loving God; Loving People.
Then when we happen upon a good deal while doing our normal shopping, we’ll praise God for His provision and care. And we’ll do a little happy dance because shucks, scoring a great deal is still an awful lot of fun!