Retail therapy is one of my least favourite concepts. The idea that filling our lives and homes with things we don’t need in order to try and make ourselves feel better, to calm our anxieties and soothe our fears, it doesn't sit well with me.
Every year Black Friday slithers into my inbox like the vines of a poisonous plant, tens of emails piling up for the week leading up to that dreaded Friday, when my email account drowns in a sea of BOGOF deals, 50% offs and the lure of happiness through empty purchases.
Every year in the UK, retail phenomena like Black Friday contribute to ensnare more people to debt.
Household debt increased on average 7% per household in the years 2012-2017 . Recent research by The National Student suggests that 70% of students are living in their overdraft . In 2017, personal debt and living from overdraft is normal for the student generation, yet we still keep on spending, tempted by the relentless tide of deals, offers and latest things we simply must own.
We clearly like to spend our way out of trouble, yet the reality is we spend our way deeper into financial and spiritual despair. Our new and shiny things and deals soothe our minds for a matter of hours, or sometimes days, but the promised satisfaction of Black Friday never materialises.
The Kingdom view
Yet in the famous Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6, Jesus tells us not to worry about the things of this world, our clothes, our food or the everyday worries of life and instead challenges us to seek first His kingdom and adopt His view of the world.
All of us are seeking a sustained sense of comfort and satisfaction that Black Friday will never give us, true security will only ever be found in the salvation Jesus freely offers us. You can be the CEO of Amazon or someone £3000 in debt to their Amazon credit card, Romans 10 tells us that whosoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
when did we allow Black Friday to become our therapist?
There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting nice things or new things, but I urge you amidst the carnage of bargains and reductions, take time to consider your personal spending, take time to think about what you are prioritising with your finances and where you are seeking comfort and escapism.
Where your inbox and your news feed tempt you to spend, spend, spend - consider that challenge of Jesus to seek first His kingdom, before you seek to add more things to your own kingdom.
If you are struggling financially and need help, visit the Christians Against Poverty website for their free debt advice and counselling services.