Confessions of a Recovering Shop-a-holic

Wendy Pope

“Honor the Lord with your possessions …” Proverbs 3:9 (NKJ)

To be honest with you, there was a time when I wished Proverbs 31 Ministries' Principle Five, "The Proverbs 31 Woman contributes to the financial well-being of her household, being a faithful steward of the time and money God has entrusted to her" did not exist. Being a faithful steward of the time and money God and my husband entrusted to me has not always been an easy task.

I suppose it started years ago when I rode in the Country Squire station wagon with my mother from destination to destination searching for the "bargain of the century.” My mother taught me to be an expert bargain shopper. So much an expert that even now, many years later, friends call me for shopping tips and questions about where to get the best deal on what they’re looking for.

What I believe my mother meant for good, the enemy used for evil. Somewhere along the way, through disappointing times in my life and low self-esteem, I began to see shopping as an escape. It became the way I brought myself happiness. I use the word “happiness” because happiness describes a temporary emotion based on circumstances. Joy is something deep within yourself that remains regardless of your circumstances.

I entered my marriage in debt and managed to keep us in debt during most of our early years together. The debt I accrued became my secret. I hid credit card bills from my husband, as well as new things that I bought. Each month, I would scrape enough money together from my household budget to make the minimum payments. The lie kept me from having an honest and open relationship with my husband. It also kept me from experiencing the real joy that comes with an intimate relationship with Jesus. It was a true sickness.

This first step I took to rid myself of this sickness was commit to meet each morning with the greatest financial advisor who ever lived, Jesus. This is before my shower, juice and kisses from my family. In my quiet times, I asked God to change me. I begged Him to give me a heart to know Him. I invited him to teach me, refine me, and make me pleasing and acceptable in His sight.

I also made the choice not to go to the mall or other stores unnecessarily. Something else that was helpful to cure the sickness was to see where I was spending money by recording the amount for every purchase in a small notebook. The final step I took to financial freedom was to cut up my credit cards and confess my lifestyle to my husband.

Now my joy comes from something that cannot be stolen – how about you?

Dear Lord, You are Jehovah-Jireh, the God who provides. Help me to trust You to provide my physical needs as well as my emotional needs. Forgive me for making foolish choices when it comes to spending the money You entrust to me. Reveal to me changes I need to make in my spending habits. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Additional Resources:
Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

Dave has written many books including The Total Money Makeover. He is a follower of Christ and along with his company The Lampo Group seeks to provide Biblically-based, common sense education on finances to instill hope and empower everyone from the financially secure to the financially distressed.

Application Steps:
Write down all “frivolous” debt you have like credit cards and department store cards. Begin praying over it. Ask God for the discipline and courage to cut up the cards and come clean. If you don't have any frivolous debt, praise the Lord for your freedom from such debt.

Reflection Points:
Are you in credit card debt?How often do you go to the mall or other stores to "window shop?"Where do you seek joy?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 17:16, "Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom?" (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 7:12, "Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor." (NIV)

1 Timothy 6:6, "But godliness with contentment is great gain." (NIV)

Proverbs 3:9-10, “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the first fruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” (NKJ)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, like the author of "confessions of a recovering Shop-a-holic, have been very foolish with what I been entrusted with.And because of it I have put a huge financial burden on my husband (who knows what I have done). The shame and guilt have been horrible. How could I have done this to my family? If anyone reads this please pray for me it is almost too much to bear.

Blogger Rachel Olsen said...

I will pray for you. Recognize that God removes our sins when we pray and ask Him to - He doesn't keep beating us with them, only Satan does that. Guilt and shame that feels too much to bear is not from God. Pray and release this to Him, know that you ARE forgiven in Christ's name and purpose to focus on on Him and not on your past mistakes. With God all things are possible!

Blogger Ann said...

Thank you Rachel for reminding me and for praying for me.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear friend, I know what you are going through because I used to be quite a shopper myself.... that is, until I lost my high-paying job. Facee with bankruptcy and lawsuits from 3 banks for not being able to meet my payments, I came before the Lord and repented. Like Rachel aptly wrote, once you have confessed your addiction, BELIEVE in your heart that He has ALREADY forgiven you. The enemy WILL try to taunt you in your mind with words like "you're good for nothing", "there is no hope" etc. IGNORE the lies of the enemy becuz we know that he is the accuser of the brethren. That day in June 2004, when I came before the Lord and asked Him to help me... I heard inside my spirit these words "Fear not, My child, I came so that you may have life and life more abundantly" (John 10:10) and "The plans I have for you are plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11).

I encourage you to read the bible for it is there that you will find God's blueprint to get out of debt. I resolved it in my heart and told the Lord to give me a rhema word for my situation. Every day, I spent hours in His word (I was really desperate for a solution and knew nobody could help me - but God. Which is exactly where He wanted me to be). Meanwhile, the bank creditors were pounding on my door DAILY; including harassing phone calls + lawsuits! Each time, whenever I come before the Lord - He would show me in His word "Fear Not".. or "Stay Calm". You may wish to meditate on Exodus 13-14 to see how God brought the desperate Hebrews out of bondage via the parting of the Red Sea. Read also 2 Chronicles 20 of how God delivered Jehosaphat out of the clutches of the enemy.

Lastly, in this critical hour, the enemy will lie to you not to tithe. Please TITHE. In fact, TITHE MORE THAN 10%. I was faced with this option: I have barely enough money for my food and I had to do 3 things. I asked God what should I do?? He answered me by directing me to this great man of God, Jerry Savelle (check out his website Jerry faced the SAME Issues. There were 4 mountains in front of him (his/his family daily needs incl food), tithe to God, phone & electricity bills OR pay off the creditors. The Lord's reply (in this order):

1. Tithe to God via the church. DO NOT lesson your tithe. By not tithing, you are giving the enemy the license to attack you further in your finances.

2. Your family's daily needs (now is the time to learn to live frugally - yet without a defeated mentality - it can ONLY be done when you immerse yourself in His Word. Period).

3. Your phone/electrity bills (the necessary bills).

At one point, I had only enough money to tithe (which I did as God directed) and for my food. There was nothing left to pay for my phone/electrity bills... much less the creditors. The Lord then challenged me to bless others with the things that mean alot to me. I blessed others using my skills (without asking for money in return)... I helped babysit for free... I blessed a needy woman with my expensive winter jacket etc. Come before God - and He WILL reveal to you how to go about to get yourself out of debt and out of this situation.

It's Dec 2007 and I am pleased to announce to you and to the whole world that God has remained FAITHFUL in His word (Read Numbers 23). When you are obedient, stay humble, submit to His EVERY WORD - the devil has no choice but to flee from you. I only found a job in June this year. So for 3 years, I lived like what I mentioned above. I never told anyone my needs (Read Luke 12, Luke 18) but my first breakthru came in Dec 2004... when I received a package via mail. There were several hundreds of dollars inside. A week later, I rec'd another package for $2,000. Whenever I received the money from those whom the lord touched (they didn't know what I was facing), I resolved to tithe 15% to the church. Imagine - me - unemployed with no husband to support me. God alone supported me these 3 years. Have I ever gone hungry? Nope. Did the lawsuits against me by these banks materialized? Nope because I claimed EVERYDAY (Isaiah 54:17) No weapon FORMED against me shall prosper... and no evil shall come near my dwelling! I also stood firm on Psalm 91. The banks even threatened to auction the things in my house - 3 times. But it never materialized WHEN I remained calm, and continued to praise Him. ALL my debts have been miraculously WIPED CLEAN from the banks computers today!

I know He will do even more miracles for you, dear sister, when you resolve in your heart to focus on Him and Him alone i.e. SEE Him as your Deliverer - not your hubby. Jesus WILL meet ALL your needs for sure.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your testimony...I am so filled with fear and negative thoughts and suicide and I've been hearing God saying in a small voice to Pursue Him, to Fear Not, and to Be Still. So I thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul for posting these messages. Please pray for me too.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a shop-a-holic too. I have gotten our family into debt AGAIN with credit cards and now I can't sleep at night and I think about it all the time. I know that it says in the Bible not to worry but I'm sure I wasn't supposed to get us in this shape either. My husband knows about the debt and gets frustrated but won't take over the checkbook like I've ask him to do. He says I'll be fine and that we will work it out but then we just go out and buy even more "junk". We have been truly blessed by God and don't need anything but yet I just keep buying. WHY????? It is an addiction to me. I'm scared too because my shopping has affected my children (ages 9 & 6) they expect whatever they ask for and don't appreciate anything they get.I need your prayers. Thank you.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am thankful to know I am not the only follower of Christ struggling with this. Just today, my husband has learned of my overspending and lying to cover it up. Although I have not put us into debt, I have destroyed the trust between us. He is so hurt and disappointed in me. I do not want to do this anymore. I am so afraid that the shame and guilt I feel over this is going to send me back to the eating disorder I suffered with for fifteen years. I want Jesus to be my only stronghold.

Blogger Kim said...

Thank you God for revealing these testimonies to me. I have been overwhelmed with guilt of my own spending addiction. I have gotten my family into such debt and my husband is still unaware of our situation. We took out a home equity loan last year with intentions of building a shop for him, and now I have drawn on the loan so much that there is not enough left available to build the shop. Every time he talks about starting the building process, my heart just pounds. I also have credit cards that he does not know about. I am a student at this time and not bringing any income into the household, but am not managing what God and my husband have entrusted me with. I am so scared to tell him of our debt. Several years ago I did this same thing with credit cards and he found out when he went to the credit union for a loan and was not able to get the loan. He told me then if I ever did this again that he would divorce me. He is a recovering alcoholic and was still drinking at that time. He quit drinking on September 14, 2007 (PRAISE GOD!!), I am so proud of him. He is now suffering from stage 3-4 liver disease and is taking treatments for the next year. I just don't know what to do. I am so scared to tell him, I know that God will forgive me, but I just don't think my husband ever will, and I don't think I could earn his trust back. Some days, it seems that all the stress and debt just consumes my every thought and I can't seem to focus on the things that I need to focus on. We lost our home to a fire about 4 years ago and I got behind on filing our taxes then, I still need to file for the last 3 years, and I know that it would probably bring in some money to help pay down the debt, but I just can't make myself take the time to sit down and get all of the information together. God has blessed us with a great paying job for my husband, he is making more money now than he has ever made in his life, and I can't seem to even pay our bills on time. We live paycheck to paycheck, because I can't manage our money. I want to sit down with him and create a budget, but his thinking is, if he works and makes the money, why can't he buy what he wants. I know I have to tell him, but I keep thinking that I can pay our debt down and then tell him, but it seems to keep rising. I have not been faithful in my relationship with God. I know Jesus is my Savior, and I was saved in Sept. 2004. I thought I was saved as a child, but realized that I had not truly been saved. I have strayed from God and know that I need HIM in my life more now. All the times that I would wonder how I was going to make it until the next payday, and then think, Oh, I have the Line of Credit, thinking all the while that it was God telling me it was okay to use this for that purpose, I really feel now that it was Satan putting those ideas and thoughts in my mind. Please pray for me to have the courage to open up and confess my sin and addiction to my husband. I am ashamed to tell any of my friends what I have done to ask for their prayers. Please pray that I can be healed of this addiction and become a better servant of God. I have not been tithing and that is fixing to be FIRST on my list.

God, please heal my addiction, please show me every day a better way to serve you with life. Help me to be the wife my husband can be proud of and not ashamed of. Please help my husband be forgiving of my unfaithfulness to him by not managing our household better. I know it I will have to earn his respect and trust again, but God please help him to have a forgiving heart. In Jesus name, Amen.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear sister in Christ, I am praying for you. God is faithful and will restore You if you repent and lay this down at His feet. Don't hide in the darkness. Bring this to light. I know you are scared but you must tell your husband. Satan wants you to keep this a secret... he loves the darkness. I am reading a book that may be helpful to you called Get Out of that Pit by Beth Moore. It deals with getting out of messes God's way. Trust Him.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i never did anything like this before I never really looked at it like I had a Problem. I confessed to my husband yesterday about my credit cards and spending the savings.We have three beautiful children and they don't deserve this. Pray for me because this addiction is real. But I know that I can do all things through Christ Jesus. So this too will past. Shauna

Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you ladies for sharing your encouragement, your fears, your realities. I too have gotten our family of 6 into a lot of debt. I know in my mind that God will provide for our needs - He always has. I know in my mind that God has forgiven me - He always will. But my guilt and shame causes me to play a tape in my head saying that God will not get me out of this mess because I have done the same thing over and over again. I know that it's a lie straight from Hell, but unfortunately, it's the only thing I'm able to hear. My favorite word over the years has been "BELIEVE". I am so being challenged right now, because all I have is doubt :(. "God please forgive me. You have done so much for me and our family over the years, and I know that I should be more than confident. However, I'm not. I feel so ashamed. Please help me Lord to BELIEVE again. Help me to forgive myself for this mess that I've caused. Please help my family Lord. Please help us get out of this mess I've caused. In Jesus' precious name I pray, Amen." Once again, I am so thankful and grateful for all of your sharing and encouragement. I also ask for God's richest blessings to all that are going through debt in my prayer above. Thanks again.

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