We recently discovered that Maggie's feet have grown. Big time. Like one day she could wear her shoes, the next day she could barely even velcro them on. (How does that happen, anyway? Amazing!) No big deal, we thought. We'll go to Shoe Carnival and pick up some new shoes. Brian took Maggie to Shoe Carnival and searched for good, sturdy tennis shoes at a reasonable price. No luck. The "good sturdy shoes" were apparently only up to a size 9, and Maggie needed a 10.5. Size 10 and up, quality lowered and price skyrocketed. Maybe it's just Shoe Carnival, he thought. Nope. He tried Ross, TJ Max, Marshalls and even Dick's Sporting Goods, coming back to the car empty handed each time. After racking our brains for other possibilities, we realized that a trip to the mall was inevitable.
The main reason I typically avoid the mall is because well, it's honestly just a hassle to load everybody up, find a parking spot, fight the crowds and walk the long distance with toddlers for just one or two items. I'm lazy. I like to go straight into a store and get exactly what I need, and come back out. I'm just not a big shopper. Toddlers get tired, or suddenly need a bathroom and the closest one is fifteen stores away. Babies want to get down and crawl around on the dirty floor. The other option is to hold them while they're squirming and fighting you. Either option is just not fun. You can't really "shop" that way. So I hadn't been to the mall, literally, in at least two years.
But on this day, it wasn't the difficult logistics that got me. Since Brian was with me, he was really helpful, and everyone was in a relatively good mood. It was the greed, envy, and selfishness that I felt rising up in my heart. Wow, look at all those beautiful shoes, I thought. You know I haven't been able to buy any new shoes in a long time. Poor me. I need some pretty heels for church. Oh and look at those earrings! And that purse! Totaling it up in my head, if I bought the shoes, the purse, and the earrings, I would have spent over $200. I normally try not to spend that much on two week's worth of groceries! But here I was, convinced I "needed" or "deserved" some beautiful new things. That was just Belk, who didn't have what we were looking for either. On the trek down to Stride Rite, I found myself thinking things like, Oh look at Pottery Barn! We've had that same comforter for 4 years now. We need a pretty new comforter for our bed. . . . Oh smell those perfumes at Victoria's Secret! I need a new bottle of perfume! Only $60! Why can't I have perfume?? And on and on it went. By the time we got Maggie's shoes, I had gone from a place of "Thank you Lord that we are able to provide new shoes for Maggie" to "Poor me I need new everything!" Oh my. It wasn't pretty. Of course, no one else knew I was thinking these things. No one except God. He knows my heart.
On the trek back from Stride Rite (who finally had good shoes- and on sale, too! Thank you Lord!) to our car by way of Belk's, I also noticed all the "little girls' clothes" that were catching the attention of my precious Allie. I was SHOCKED. Gone are the days of long, feminine dresses with frills- which, by the way, I believe are extremely appropriate for a ten-year-old. No, they have been replaced. No one wants those anymore. Ten year olds are supposed to look 25 now. The skirts barely cover their behinds. The tee-shirts have slogans that NO ONE should even THINK, much less put on a tee-shirt for a child. I was literally sick. Lord, how can I raise children who love You in this generation? This is sickening! Then I felt a quickening in my own spirit. It starts with YOU loving Me more than the stuff too, Julie. They are watching you. YOU love Me and seek Me above all these things, and they will follow suit. WOW.
And this theme between me and the Lord has continued this week. I've come across passages in my Bible reading that have convicted me about the continual heart change that is needed to pursue HIM instead of STUFF. . .
"For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man." -Mark 7:21-23.
"Jesus said to him, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.'" -Matthew 19:21
"He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it." -Matthew 10:39
"But SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well." -Matthew 6:33
"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way which leads to destruction, and many there are that go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and few there are who find it." -Matthew 7:13-14
So, maybe it's not really the mall that I hate, it's the part of my heart that I haven't let God change. The flesh that rises up in me when I go to the mall. I still think we will avoid the mall at all costs for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is Mark 9- If your hand causes you to sin, cut if off. . . if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out- and not the least of which is for the sake of my daughters and what I herald as acceptable or even important to pursue. But at the heart of it, it's a heart thing. I am in serious need of God's Holy Spirit's continual presence and conviction and cleansing in my life. I need His power. I need His help. I need Him every hour- whether at the mall or at home. Because His Word makes it clear that our enemy Satan is seeking those whom he may devour. Lord, by the blood of Jesus, may it not be me.