The last thing I would do if I found myself with extra time is hit the mall. Popping in to shops and boutiques, trying on clothes or shoes, comparing prices, scoping out the latest fashions…not for me. I am surrounded by great shoppers — my husband, my daughters, my sisters — so over the years I have let them do my shopping for me. What I mean is, instead of looking for the perfect gift for them I simply ask them to buy their own gift and send me the bill. It works. Sort of. If you don’t care about surprises, or anticipation, or the “You shouldn’t have!” moment.
Lately I’ve started to feel uneasy about my “hate to shop” stance. So yesterday I decided to test my limits. I set out on foot from my hotel in beautiful Chapel Hill, North Carolina and walked to a nearby strip mall. My mission was to put into practice what I had been taught three years ago — and never acted on — at a workshop about making an eye-catching product table. The “stack of books on a bare table” look was even starting to offend my minimalist sensibilities.
I found a craft supply store and picked up some acrylic frames and book stands, a metal urn and seasonal silk flora with a bit of glitter. I couldn’t find a tablecloth so I grabbed some quilt pieces in appropriate fall colors. My next stop was a grocery store where I hoped to find a black plastic tablecloth and while there, I saw an afghan in the perfect color at a great price and grabbed it. All in all, I spent under $50.
Walking back to the hotel with my new finds I felt happy — an untypical feeling for me after a shopping excursion — and I began to understand what was really happening. For months now, I have had a sense that God is healing me from many of the fears that have imprisoned and plagued me all my life. And I am continually being surprised by how far-reaching those fears were. Like all my other fears, my fear of shopping had more to do with the fear of failure — what if I spend too much? What if I bring it home and hate it? What if the person I bought it for hates it? — than with my stated reasoning: it’s a waste of time and I’m not good at it.
We fearful people lock ourselves up inside our phobias and fears and then use excuses to justify our behavior. But God wants to set us free from our self-imposed prisons and fill us with the happiness and satisfaction that comes from pushing our limits and trying new things. I’m thinking God should have warned me that I would discover SteinMart the very next day. I had to buy a bigger suitcase after that little adventure!