IVP - Strangely Dim - Target Temptation

June 15, 2010

Target Temptation

Last night I was shopping at Target for some mundane items like dish detergent and a mouth guard (yes, I grind my teeth at night). I had purposed to walk straight over to the "pharmacy" and "cleaning" aisles, pick up my stuff and march directly out. But of course the clever marketing mavens (of which I am one) know that it is much harder to make a beeline to the practical items when you have to walk past all the newest fashions and toys.

I succumbed to the siren song of the new, starchy, clothes department, even though I know Target's clothes are likely made in sweatshops across Asia, usually sized too small for me and generally don't last more than three washes. And yet, there it was. The poster of the happy girls whose lives seemed so full now that they had that cute shrug and skinny jeans. Maybe my life would be better with these things. . .

And here's the scary part of my story: I started hearing a voice in my head. It said things to me like, "There's no harm in looking," and "You might as well try a few things on." Then once I was in the changing room it said, "Wow, that looks absolutely horrible on you. You need to lose weight so you can buy cute clothes like this and feel good about yourself." Then it said, "Maybe if you try on something else on you'll feel better. How 'bout you go get a different size/color/style." And so I did. I thought long and hard about spending my savings on a sweater. And I wondered, am I the only one who hears these kinds of voices? Then I remembered a book that does what most good books do--reminds me I'm not alone in my struggles (or perhaps in my insanity).

A few nights ago I was reading from Margot Starbuck's new book, Unsqueezed, where she reminds us of how insane our culture is and how backward it is to value our bodies for what they look like instead of how they function in service to God and others. In it she says:

"The fourth chapter of Luke's Gospel describes Jesus' wilderness temptation by the devil. The first temptation the enemy put out there was asking hungry Jesus to turn a stone to bread. Is it really surprising that Satan started with carbs? That's just so predictable. Jesus' answer to all three schemes devised by the evil one was, "No thanks. I'll trust in what God provides."

. . . Though some people imagine a red-faced Satan with pointy horns, a cape and a pitchfork, I think we're dealing with a much smoother cat than that. This guy's more like the well-dressed salesman who convinces us that he's got our best interests at heart. "Why depend on God to meet your needs?" the voice asks. "Why not meet your own needs?""

I shook myself from my stupor, put down the sweater and headed for the cash register to buy my detergent and mouth guard. On the way out, I had to pass by the jewelry counter, and the voice tried one more time. "Well, okay, maybe you don't need that dress, but you should get yourself some jewelry. After all, you deserve it."

With all the 'get thee behind me satan' resolve I could muster, I pressed on and found my place in line.

Posted by Rebecca Larson at June 15, 2010 10:02 AM Bookmark and Share


Have you considered about introducing some social bookmarking buttons to these blogs. At least for twitter.

Comment by: Ryan Deiss at October 30, 2010 11:59 AM

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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