05 October, 2013

Struggling with pride

I was recently introduced to a lady in her 50s at an English-speaking Christian women's gathering. She'd only been in Japan for nine weeks. Within a couple of minutes I was shocked as she admitted, "I came to Japan on the condition that I be allowed to buy all new stuff."

Huh? Many of the women at the gathering were missionaries, and I'd assumed she was too. My first reaction was one of judgement, What sort of attitude is that to have about being called to Japan? As the conversation progressed I realised that she possibly wasn't a missionary, and I had the opportunity to ask this later when we prayed together. She was the wife of a businessman. Still, I had trouble stilling that internal voice of contempt at the blatant materialism.

You see it is so far from how we and most of our colleagues live our lives, where we survive on a lot of secondhand and hand-me-down goods. I love new stuff as much as the next girl, but it simply isn't the first route that we choose for getting most things we need, particularly the larger items.

As I baked this afternoon my thoughts drifted along lines of where I had gotten a lot of my kitchen stuff. 
My "new" flour container.

My pink Tupperware flour container comes from my friend who recently left for Singapore (I posted about that here). Some of my larger oven trays come from a friend who's gone to her heavenly home. She gave them to me before she went back to the UK for cancer treatment. 
Oven trays, many of which were
given to us.

A few of our pieces of furniture come from missionaries we've hardly met. The telephone stand/cupboard houses all my recipe books and is very handy. It came from a family that had to return to Australia due to ill health.

Our telephone stand/cupboard.
We also have a number of things acquired more anonymously, like at second-hand stores or garage sales. Our little food processor I bought in Hokkaido very early in our time in Japan. I was so pleased at my "cheap" food processor.
My second-hand
food processor.
Ah, the memories, the connections (see here for a post on connections we find through food). Memories that new things just don't have. I'm not discontent with my lifestyle. Most of the time I'm not hankering after new things. That makes it hard when I encounter those who do. My first reaction is judgement against the materialism that I can so clearly see in them. However, it isn't my job to judge them, not even in my thoughts. 

I'm glad that I was forced to remain in that little table group on Tuesday and pray for that lady. Probing more deeply, she and her husband did feel "called" to Japan, but now she's here she doesn't know what God has for her to do. So I prayed for her. I asked God later for forgiveness for my judgemental heart, and asked him to reveal my own faults, because as soon as I put her down (even in my head), I'm elevating myself, as if I'm better in His sight than she is, just because I live a more modest lifestyle.

Pride. It is something that I don't want to take back with me to wealthy Australia next year. There is no good in being prideful that we manage to live on a small budget. But it is an insidious beast, poking its head up where it isn't wanted.


Sarah said...

Great post, Wendy. Thanks for your honesty. I'm the same, especially in areas of money management etc which is where I often find myself judging others. I heard a very sobering sermon last Sunday about how God was not kind to Israel because they were any better than the nations around them.

Wendy said...

I struggle with it on the self-control and weight control issue too. I'm now feeling annoyed about the "fell into sin" catch phrase which essentially means that sexual sin is way worse than those terrible thought-sins that we all deal with. We're just as bad as the pharisees Jesus got so narky about because we categorise sins into better or worse!