I Gave up Shopping for a Year

Tasha Levert

I gave up shopping for a year.

A year!

I wasn’t in credit card debt.

I wasn’t joining in on a new budgeting bandwagon.

I wasn’t taking a stand against consumerism.

I wasn’t addicted to shopping, but I did joke with girlfriends about the restorative properties of retail therapy. I used shopping to change my mood, to manage my stress, to tolerate my boredom, and to boost my self-esteem. OK, so maybe I was a tiny bit dependent.

I gave up shopping for a year . . . 365 days . . . because I decided I wanted to give  “more-than-enough” a try:

I was chasing after “more, more,” when all along there was “more-than-enough.”

So, what did I learn?

Shopping Lies

Not unlike any other addiction, shopping lied to me. Shopping promised me anything, took my everything, and gave me nothing. I was searching for happiness on a clearance rack, but the price for joy cannot be discounted. Joy is priceless (which I think I already knew, but I was willing to give buying joy a shot).

Shopping Is A Time Killer

I am a busy girl with a husband, three daughters, a career and a dream. Shopping takes time away from the things that really matter in life. It felt good to have those minutes (hours) back in my day.

Shopping Makes Excess the Norm

I moved back to Louisiana in the third month of my fast, and the food down here is “ces c’est bon!” (Translation: crazy good!) It didn’t take long for the gumbo and beignets to have an impact on my waistline. Like most women, I have a few “fat day” outfits in my closet, but I was embarking on a “fat year!”

My shopping fast taught me weight gain is a privilege. I didn’t have the option to buy a new wardrobe of stretchy pants if my eating got excessive. As my fast continued, my tendency towards “more, more” was exposed as I toyed with substituting overbuying with overeating.

Shopping Stunts Creativity

I launched my online counseling practice in the seventh month of my fast after a four year break from the office. I had not bought work clothes in at least five years! I was tempted to make an exception and buy a blouse or two so I could look presentable for my clients, but I resisted. Instead, I got creative, wore what I had, and found I still had more-than-enough. I’ve since purged my closet from all the excess.

Shopping Has not Gotten Easier To Resist

The last month of my fast was probably the hardest. My permission giving statements were relentless:

“You don’t need to be legalistic. It’s on sale. You need it. Just buy it!” 

“That’s an amazing price! Just buy the earrings, but don’t wear them until the fast is over.” 

“Buy it. No one will ever know.”

The struggle is very real. My desire to want more has gotten even stronger as I’ve transitioned back into a life with shopping. I’m trying to remember that when I give in to the shopping spree, I am actually settling for less-than-enough.

More is less.

Shopping Steals Our Wonder

When you give up shopping for a year, and it’s been months since you’ve had anything new, the tiniest gift is wonderful. The delight I felt when people gave to me – unmatched!

My daughters bought me a scarf for my birthday I had been eyeing for months.
My mother-in-law bought me a LSU t-shirt to celebrate the beginning of football season.
My husband bought me new paintbrushes and oils for Christmas.
My mom sent me a brand new book in the mail just because she’s awesome.
My friend bought me some fancy body wash to warm my new Louisiana home.
I love presents, but getting anything new in the middle of a fast was extra special.
The smell of something new.
The chance to peel off a price tag.
The thrill of tearing into a gift bag.
I was wonderstruck.
Nothing compares to the love-filled heart of a giver.

Sweet agape.


Now What?

To be honest, I’m glad the fast is OVER! I missed getting to buy things for myself, but I missed the relational side of shopping the most.

Some girlfriends and I are spending the day at an outlet mall next week, and I’m counting the days.

My excitement for the spree is different than it would have been a year ago. Instead of daydreaming about what I’m going to find, I’m daydreaming about who I’m going to be with. I’m thankful for the friends God is giving me in my new home. My heart is full.

So what’s holding you back from experiencing more-than-enough?

Today’s surrender is tomorrow’s freedom (a nod to All Sons & Daughters’ lyric, Dawn to Dusk).

Tasha Levert, Ph.D., is a licensed professional counselor in New Orleans who provides face-to-face and online care. She is a conference speaker, worship leader and the author of  Stories of Hope for the Sleep Deprived. Tasha and her husband Tim (Pastor with Students at the Vineyard Church of New Orleans) have three beautiful daughters and a lazy schnauzer named Gumbo. To find out more about Tasha or her practice go to tashalevert.com or broomtreecounseling.com.