I can distinctly remember one evening going to a store after having an especially hard day. It felt good to get away from all the stresses of the day. And then this thought occurred to me... this is a way for me to escape. I wasn't turning to the Creator, I was turning to the created thing, in this case shopping, to fill a desire I had for comfort and control.
Comfort and control along with a host of other desires we have can easily make their way up the corporate ladder and straight into the corner office with a view. The name label on that door reads CEO of Idols of the Heart! If you cringed just a little, believe me I did too!
I thought about my shopping excursion and realized I can go shopping to the glory of God, or I can go shopping to the glory of self!
You can do the right thing, or a neutral thing in the wrong way that allows sin and the enemies camp to rule. And you can do the right thing, or a neutral thing in a way that allows the Spirit and and the kingdom camp to rule.
Ask yourself, "Can I ___________________________ to the glory of God?" If the answer is no, it might be time to rethink that thought, or behavior.
Back to my not so innocent retail therapy situation. I remember stopping before going into the store and bringing God into the dialog of my stressful situation. "Lord, this is hard. I am feeling like I want to escape away from all these things, just like David said in Psalm 55, 'Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest. I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm." I was about to make this shopping experience my shelter and my refuge. God, you alone are my "refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.' (Psalm 91:2) Thank you for giving me the ability to purchase clothing and for allowing the experience of shopping to be enjoyable. Help me not to use this gift and luxury as an ultimate refuge. Thank you for being with me and reminding me you never leave and you are an ever present help in times of trouble." (Psalm 46:1)
Is retail therapy a valid form of "therapy?" No, not really, but I don't think you ever believed it really was. It does often serve as a distraction and temporarily scratches the itch we have for control and comfort. Is "retail therapy" biblical? Buying things to feel better is a poor substitute for the peace that passes all understanding that comes from the Prince of Peace, Jesus. If you are turning to shopping and not to the Lord, it is possible shopping has become an idol of the heart. Is "retail therapy" sinful? It can be. Can you go shopping to the glory of God? Yes, I believe you can.
Here's to re-thinking retail therapy in a way that brings The Redeemer into the experience from entering the door, or the online portal, to the shopping cart, and all the way through the check out!
Carrie Breedlove MS, LPC EMDR trained email@example.com