Life has a way of really shoving something in our faces when it wants us to learn it, and that’s exactly what life has been doing to me lately with this topic. Three different times from three different people over the last few weeks, I’ve had discussions about the fact that we should value experiences more than possessions. None of these conversations were related. They were all organic and started by the other person. But if something comes up in my life that many times, it’s probably something I should pay attention to. So here I am thinking it through in the form of a blog post.
Money is something we all have a limited amount of. And what we do with that money says a lot about us. It tells us what we value the most. It’s different for everyone. Some people pour tons of money into a hobby or a collection. Others take expensive vacations. Others buy fancy cars. But whatever we choose to spend our money on is indicative of what we value the most. And lately I’ve been wondering if my spending habits have been lining up with my values.
Like many others, I spend a significant amount of money on stuff. I like stuff. I like adding things to my DVD collection. I like having nice, new clothes. I like books and junk food. But are all these things really the most important? Are they what I truly value the most? If so, what does that say about me? And if not, then why am I investing so much of my limited money into them?
I’d like to believe that people and relationships are the most important things in my life. As someone who is called into ministry, it’s especially important that I don’t get sucked into the trap of materialism. My calling is to love people, so they should probably be my priority. Which means they should also be the main things I’m spending my time, money, and effort on.
The truth is that even though things are great, they could never measure up to meaningful experiences. No DVD box set could compare to a weekend with my family. No article of clothing could bring me as much joy as a night out with my friends. I’m not saying that spending money on things is bad. I’m saying that it shouldn’t be the main thing we’re investing in. Because things don’t have as much value as experiences do.
Think about it this way. If I buy a huge, new TV, I’m really going to enjoy it for a bit. But my enjoyment with the TV will decrease with time. I’m going to get used to having such a big TV and wish I had an even bigger one. Plus, the TV will become outdated after a few years and need to be replaced. So my enjoyment of this TV will decrease with time. But if I took the same amount of money that I would spend on the TV and spent it on a fun experience with people I care about, my enjoyment of that experience would not only exceed my enjoyment of the TV; it would also increase with time. I would be able to reflect on that experience for years to come and enjoy it over and over again. It would never become outdate or need replacing. It would always be there to enjoy. That’s so much better than a TV, or any other thing that I could buy.
So I’m trying to value experiences over things. Because experiences are ultimately worth more, even when I’m distracted by the allure of some shiny new object. Nothing beats a trip with my family or a meal out with someone special. Those experiences are just valuable; they’re priceless. And the sooner I see that and start choosing to invest in them, the better. May you invest in experiences that will bring you fulfillment now and for years to come. Have a great week, friends!