From an early age, advertisers pummel us with messages of sparkly, flashy things that will improve our lives or increase our popularity.
And that's on Sesame Street.
By the time we reach high school, the drive to be like our friends compels us beyond logic. All of us beg our parents for the right shoes, clothes, toys, cars. Just to be like every one else. Or a little better.
In college, the longing to be the same diminishes, as we "find ourselves." Unless we are in the Greek system. Just kidding. Well, really, I have no idea. I was never Greek. We become more comfortable with our identity. We learn to be independent, and that forces us to prioritize what is important. It's hard to buy the "right" shoes if we're struggling to make rent.
As we graduate and move on, we take jobs, get married, etc. The comparisons return. Do I make more than her? Is my job more impressive than his? How many square feet does your house have? Where did you go on vacation? What kind of car should I get next? Have you eaten at the uber-expensive restaurant down the street? Who did you marry?
These questions are raised as conversation. Feigning interest but secretly comparing. And we walk away knowing where we stand in comparison. It takes a strong person not to get sucked up in that. It takes a person who is adamantly wrapped up in their value to their Creator to not get sucked up in that. It is EASY to get sucked in. We've been doing it our whole life.
All of this to say: We went camping a couple of weeks ago. At a campground. A KOA. I have been camping before. We had a tent, a fire pit, the van, a cooler, and some bug spray. This camping experience was unlike any other I've had. The campground had two pools, horses, ATVs, ball courts, a movie theater, and a couple of general stores.
I let the girls play in the dirt. I didn't wear makeup the entire weekend. We may have showered once. We stayed in a borrowed camper that was very nice. Beyond anything we needed.
And on the tour of the campground in the 1947 firetruck, we met a couple from Utah. He told us of million dollar "campers" he houses in his warehouses for famous people. He pointed out one on our campground that was probably close to $250,000. And when we got off the firetruck, and I looked around, I noticed something. I was the only one "roughing it." All the other women had on makeup, cargo skirts, their manicured nails held Starbucks in the morning. The men were wearing their expensive sunglasses and riding their top of the line bicycles. Their kids were wearing Gap sweatshirts.
I was completely flabbergasted. Even camping, we must have it all. Or have what everyone else is having. When did it become so pervasive that we can't even go CAMPING and relax. Not be on. Not be worried about what someone else will think. Not look around and wish for something we don't have. Not compare our camper to theirs, our gear to theirs, our kids to theirs? It's CAMPING. FOR. GOODNESS. SAKE!!!!!!
And I was disgusted. And then I realized that if I camped a lot, I would be tempted to do the same thing. My harsh judgement felt right because I'm not super interested in camping. Therefore I can see the sin going on very clearly.
But ask me about real estate, girls clothes, nice shoes, Mustangs, or jewelry. Organic diets or exercise routines. I have opinions about those. I have to work to be content about those topics. I have to fight to be happy for someone who has more of those things than I do.
I have to find worth in the situation that God has put me in. All the time. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those that love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." I don't need those things in order for my life to be good. I have a God that GUARANTEES that all things I go through are for my good.
That beats a dang million dollar camper. Every time.