Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Targeting My Heart

I used to be a Target junkie. When Super Targets started opening around Fort Worth, I was a young teacher and coach with a large disposable income, and those shiny new stores called my name and took my money often. After moving back to Washington from Texas, I lived in my parents' small town for a year where Target was pretty much the only place to shop, and weekly trips continued to be a part of my lifestyle, even though my budget was more limited.

But then I moved to the city and all that changed. The year before I got married, I lived right in the heart of Seattle, just a block from beautiful Green Lake. Commuting to work was not fun, and the weather was often dreary, but I loved that short season of city-living. Parallel parking in the street each day, afternoon and evening runs around the lake, hitting up coffee shops to grade papers after work, and visiting the fruit market and the bookstore. City life was good.

Another strange thing that I loved about my city-year was the inconvenience of doing suburban activities. For example, I started to hate going to Target.  Target in the city is not the same as Target in the burbs. To get there, you had drive up a steep and busy ramp to the 5th floor of a parking garage. Once you fought for a parking spot and walked inside, things only got more difficult. After picking up vitamins and a sports bra upstairs, you had to take an escalator down to the lower level to pick up your USB cord and baby shower gift. {And, yes, there was a special escalator for your shopping cart to go up and down as well.} The complication of this store got so tiring I began eliminating needless Target runs from my schedule. I still went sometimes, of course, but it was no longer a weekly stop. And it felt good. So much money saved. An escape from consuming, consuming, consuming with no real reason.

And now I'm in a funny place with Target and my own life as a consumer. For the past three years, I have tried to keep my Target shopping to a minimum. I get a little annoyed if I have to go there more than once or twice a month, even though the stores are easier to get to now that I live in Phoenix. However, as a new mom and new homeowner, I have noticed Target creeping back into my life over the past few months. Baby returns, home organizations needs, those amazing Liz Lange maternity clothes, and all those sleek Threshold design items... Target has been luring me in once again.


I always cringe a bit when I see Target come up on Instagram... especially when I see moms treating it as their place of refuge or joking about how they've trained their kids to love Target too. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings here. I think Target is great. High quality products for a low price. A one-stop shopping trip. The dollar spot and Starbucks. It's a good company. But I want to be careful with how much I love it and praise it and how often I visit it...

I found myself in an ugly spot just about a month ago. I didn't capture it on Instagram, but it happened just the same. It was the weekend we moved into our new house, and it was hot. As in 118 degrees hot. And I was entering my third trimester of pregnancy, and I was tired of sweating and just plain tired in general. I had a new empty house that needed to be decorated and I was in the midst of sorting through baby items after my first shower, and there was Target. That big, air-conditioned shopping mecca just a few blocks from our new house. I decided to stop by to pick up a couple things and before I knew it I was buying clearance tank tops that would hopefully fit me in my postpartum life, scouring the baby section, and buying cute lamps in bulk. The air conditioning felt so good, and I just walked slowly through the store, looking and touching and buying, buying, buying.

And later that week, I had to go back with my head hanging to return those stupid tank tops that I shouldn't have bought in the first place.

I don't want Target to be my sanctuary. I don't want consuming things at Target to be my hobby. I don't want finding cute lamps and picture frames on clearance to bring me joy. And I really, really don't want to teach this baby in my womb that happiness is found in sales and home decor.

Maybe it's just me. I already have a tendency to over-consume and spend frivolously. But I have a feeling it's not just me, and so I write this for all of us. And I hope I am doing it with some measure of grace. Target isn't bad. And this isn't only about Target. Fill-in-the-blank with your favorite store. I just find that the store with the red circle logo exemplifies a certain attitude that many American women have about shopping... that there is joy to be found in looking and buying and saving and spending. Don't get me wrong. A good deal is exciting. It makes me happy when I get something for a good price. But I don't want to confuse happiness over a good deal with true joy, which is found only in Christ. And I don't want my identity to be found in my lamp shades and sandals. I want my identity to be in One who gives and takes away and loves us whether our house is well-decorated or not. And as I await the arrival of this little one, I want him or her to know the Creator as well, and sometimes I think they might see Him more clearly playing at the park or reading on my lap than rolling down the aisles of the Dollar Spot.


Erika @ rouge + whimsy said...

this: "just find that the store with the red circle logo exemplifies a certain attitude that many American women have about shopping... that there is joy to be found in looking and buying and saving and spending."

For a long time that dreaded northgate target was the only one i went to-- so it was so easy to cut target out of my life! (and unnecessary spending) but now there's a city target next DOOR to my work and it's so easy to go there for something and just get caught up in buying things I don't need.

it's so funny you brought this up, because I am returning an orange teeshirt i bought the other day-- one i bought just because it was on sale. I don't really need it. Sure it matches some shorts I have, but I do NOT need it. And I'm really trying to be thoughtful about my spending-- not buying just because something is cute & it makes me feel good. That feeling is fleeting. Pursuing God, pursuing relationships with others-- those things are not.

Beth Goad said...

Amen, sister! So much truth in this, Jen. It is so easy to get caught up in the glorification of cute stuff and Target certainly has its share of cute.

Thank you for the reminder of where we should be finding our joy. You have shared it so gracefully!

Veronica Lee Burns said...

This is SO good and such a GREAT reminder. You are definitely not the only one. Thank you for writing this!!

Tamara @ The Workout Mama said...

Really great reminder. It is so easy to make an idol of something! Thanks girl! Super convicted after reading this post. xoxo

caitlinmfrost said...

When I first moved from Texas to Massachusetts, I used to go to Target all the time. It was the only place I could figure out how to get to, and I was so homesick that if I walked around long enough I could forget I had ever moved. I wouldn't shop for anything, I could just pretend I was back home for a little bit.

Corny? Maybe, but so true.

Although, lately I've been thinking of all this "stuff" stuff that's been taking hold of my life, and I'm ready to get rid of all of it.

I agree with your post, though. Stores should never be a sanctuary for anything/anyone.

jessi bridges said...

Thank you for writing this. I've been reading Don't Waste Your Life by Piper and oh man, the consumer thing in general is eating at me. Just how we obsess over all this stuff in America and it's not God's call for our lives. I've especially been convicted about fashion and clothes and all that. I haven't bought new clothes for myself in several years. We just haven't had the money. And it's been so good for me, changed my heart in MAJOR ways. And then reading what Piper had to say about this week just really confirmed it. And then you posted this. So good. So so good. Thank you.

Shalilah Russell said...

I used to feel that way about Walmart now I avoid it. It became too conjested. Now I'm fighting Rite-Aid. The money I spend there is unbelievable.