Ever made an impulse buy that you regretted later? Maybe you saw something you just HAD to have, only to get it home and think, “Why in the world did I get this?”
It’s happened to me, but I don’t think I’ve ever turned a purchase I regretted into an opportunity to change people’s lives.
Amy Bennett did.
She bought the cutest belt at Anthropologie, but after she got it home, she wondered if that had been the best use of her money. She was in the middle of a read-along on a mutual friend‘s blog. They were reading David Platt’s book Radical, a book that challenges its readers to examine their lives and “forsake everything for the Gospel.” As she sat down to write her reflections on what she’d read, the cuteness of her new accessory was overshadowed by the guilt that the $28 she spent for that belt could have been used for a greater good. Unfortunately, she couldn’t return the belt so what could she do?
She decided to sell the belt for what she paid for it and donate the money to Blood:Water Mission, a group founded by the music group Jars of Clay that raises awareness and funds “for the provision of clean blood and clean water in sub-Saharan Africa.” One of her best friends eagerly agreed to take the belt off her hands, but then Amy and her friend wondered if maybe they couldn’t do more with that little belt. Out of their discussions, Amy created The Sisterhood of the Traveling Belt. She offered girls a chance to “buy” the opportunity to wear the belt by making a $28 donation to Blood:Water Mission and thus become a member of The Sisterhood. Amy bought a journal to accompany the belt and asked each of the belt’s “owners” to make an entry before she passed the belt on to the next person on the list.
Here’s what I love about Amy’s story. First, I love that guilt didn’t win. Guilt is easy. I’m good at guilt. I can always find a reason to kick myself for something I’m doing or not doing. But I think it’s important to know the difference between guilt and a calling to do something different. Guilt is usually a nice place to wallow. It rarely spurs me to action and it doesn’t ignite a passion in me. Guilt doesn’t want me to be better, it just wants me to not like who or where I am. A call to do something different may start with that same uncomfortable feeling that I’m not where I want to be, but whereas guilt leaves me there, a calling ignites a fire under me to move from where I am. I think God may convict us to change something but I don’t think He guilts us into doing it.
I love that Amy found a creative way to make a difference. She says she felt silly at first and hoped she’d find at least 28 people who would be willing to participate in the Sisterhood. I think she hoped the belt would make its way through her friends and maybe to the friends of friends. I heard about the belt through our mutual friend’s blog and knew I wanted to be a part, so I added my name to the growing list. I’m not sure how up-to-date the list is, but by my own count, I’m at least the 57th Sister to own the belt.
The belt hasn’t had an easy journey. Somewhere along the way, the original belt and journal were lost in transit. Amy sent an email to the people who were still waiting to join the Sisterhood asking whether they wanted her to purchase another belt and continue, or let that be the end of the story. Overwhelmingly, we wanted the Sisterhood to continue, so a similar belt was found, a new journal was purchased, and the chain continues.
The other thing I love about this story is that everyone has a belt. I don’t mean that in the sense that everyone has a belt they should “sell” in a chain letter fashion to make money for charity. Nor am I saying that God doesn’t want you to own cute belts. But I do think we each have something we can do, however small it may seem in our own eyes, to be a part of something much bigger than ourselves.
For instance, I have a friend who believes God wants her family to include a little girl named Joy who currently lives in China. Adoption is expensive, so to raise money, she’s used her talents to make beautiful necklaces.
They’re $12 each and they’re available in her Etsy shop: TheJoysofLife. They’d make great stocking stuffers, don’t you think? Anyway, the point is, I’m now on the look out for ways to use the me God made to do bigger things for Him.
Thanks, Amy, for allowing me the opportunity to be a member of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Belt.
Thank you for giving me an opportunity to share with my kids some important life lessons about creative ways to be big in the Kingdom. Who knows what Kingdom creativity you’ve inspired?