I saw there was a show coming on this week called Extreme Couponing. It is actually quite funny that I am referencing a TV show here because there is a post coming soon-ish regarding my new ideas about that. But until then just play along.
I was kind of interested in seeing the episode to see how these people do it. I mean, I use coupons. I meal plan. I shop twice a month with a budget. The commercials advertised that the people high-lighted on this show were able to save hundreds of dollars every time they shopped. We are talking walking out with a receipt of $600 worth of groceries and only paying $6. Free food? Sign me up.
When I sat down to watch the recorded show later, I didn't expect to walk away with yet another life lesson from my Lord. He speaks to me through almost anything these days. There were two kinds of extreme couponers interviewed. There were the type that got a rush from shopping (canceling plans with real people to feed their addiction) and were proud of their excessive "stock pile" accomplishment. Then there were the type that learned to coupon out of necessity (one family has 7 kids) and were blessing others by their ability to save.
I was stunned at the sight of rows and rows of products in their homes like a grocery store. Food and toiletry items that they would NEVER even use in their lifetimes. Years worth of toilet paper stacked clear to the ceiling. It looked like hoarding (that's another show on TLC) but all tied up in a nice little bow. I couldn't help but think, "Man, do they realize how many people they could help with all that stuff?" I mean, good for them that they enjoy couponing and figuring out the system so they don't have to pay retail for food and other items (everybody needs a hobby), but why aren't they even using it to bless others?
That's when it hit me. You guessed it. I am an extreme couponer who pays for my groceries. What I mean is I have blessings and gifts and resources just stacked on the shelves of my life. I rearrange my "stuff" and smile pretty and feel proud to show off my "stock pile" of self for my own enjoyment. Sickening. I didn't pay for any of it. Everything I have is a gift. Why am I depriving others of the joy I have in the Father who gave it to me?
Then a bright light in the episode. One extreme couponer told the story of how she started doing it out of necessity. On her own at the age of 12. A mom by 15. She had nothing and clipping coupons helped her afford what she couldn't have. There was something different about this story. She shared. Every person she saw on the street and in the grocery store she told about the knowledge she had. "I hope you have your $0.50 OFF coupon for that such-and-such in your cart," she said to someone passing in the aisle. "Did you know they put coupons in your circular?" she asked a man standing on his front stoop (he didn't look like the coupon-clipping type). She wanted other people to be blessed by the gifts she had received. The other stories seemed all about the couponer and the thrill they got from the experience. Another glaring difference in her shopping experience was what she bought. Her bill was about $230 compared to the other big shoppers spending over $1000. I mean, who needs 77 bottles of mustard really even if it is free?
Later a male couponer figured out a way to get 1500 boxes of Total cereal for nothing. He donated all of them to his church's food bank. Now that is using it for His glory!
Lord, show me what in my life I have been hoarding for self. You have blessed me in abundance. Help me to share the knowledge and gifts I have received for your good purpose.