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Friday
Mar022012

Just Pick One

I've been thinking about buying a new case for my phone.  This thinking process has (up to this point) involved three steps.  Step One: go to Apple Store, pick out case, purchase, bring case home, decide it's actually ugly because my sweet, adoring husband tells me it's ugly, return case.  Step Two: troll amazon.com for inappropriate length of time looking at cases and reading absurdly lengthy reviews, realize it's time to go get Nolan from school, purchase nothing.  Step Three: go to Apple Store again (because the problem must be that I need to see them in person), gaze fixedly at cases for inappropriate length of time, pick up a case, wonder whether every person that I have ever met will think it's a "cool case," decide there must be something better out there, leave without purchasing anything. 

And I really, really wish that this were a joke.

But it's not.  I read an article a few years ago about making choices: you're either a satisficer or a maximizer.  Satisficers are able to make a decision once their criteria are met; maximizers want to make the optimal choice.  I really like to think of myself as easygoing but the reality is that I'm a major maximizer.  The only situation in which I'm not a maximizer is when another maximizer has done the research for me.  If someone can assure me that I will be happy with the purchase and it will change my life then I can happily dive in.  Unless that person is a moron, in which case I'll have to smile and nod and then log on to Consumer Reports as soon as I get home.  And then there's always the option of returning the item if it doesn't meet all my ridiculous expectations.  See how complicated this is getting?

And it's becoming a little exhausting because I'm realizing that consumption is just a reality of life.  Because my usual approach is to throw up my hands and decide that the mall is the Source Of All Misery and so therefore I will never go again.  But I cannot avoid it.  My children need new shoes.  I need clothes (especially since I fear waking up one day and realizing that all my pants contain no zippers except for the mom jeans and then it will be official: I will have Given Up On Life).  We need to buy groceries and pillows and sheets and Legos and cell phones and cases for those cell phones.  Because I'm a maximizer, I tend to spend way too much time on these decisions (my cell phone case search should jump to mind at this point).  And there is nothing I hate more than wasting time.  It makes me very, very cranky. 

But in talking to my sweet friend, Hope, this morning, I stumbled upon a new thought.  In my life, creation can be the antidote to consumption.  And I'm not talking about crafts (those also tend to make me very, very cranky).  I'm talking about creating, having a vision, working at more than just mindless buying.  It's writing this blog.  It's sending someone a note of encouragement.  It's making the consumption work as an agent of creation: buying shoes for my children is about providing for them and protecting them.  Buying clothes for me is about being a wife that hasn't given up on looking put-together but who also has the wisdom to understand that a generous spirit is true beauty.  Groceries can be a celebration of health and God's provision for my family (but grocery shopping is still pretty lame). 

And perhaps this seems a little far-fetched, but having this perspective can help free me from the pressure of making the optimal decision.  It's just about getting it done so that I may engage in those pursuits to which I'm called in this season.  It's making sure that the life I've been given is actually giving life to me and to others.  And ultimately, I will trust in God's vision for my life and focus on the treasure that moth and rust will never destroy. 

But, still: beware the mom jeans.