Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How Do People Perceive Us...And Does It Matter?

John and I are taking Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace course at our church.  This is a refresher course for us because we watched his video series in a small group setting years ago.  While we still live below what it seems many people would consider the 'average' standard of living, our finances have improved in the years since we first were introduced to Financial Peace.

We wanted to take the class, review some of the concepts, and become more intentional about our spending/saving again.

But, as we were getting ready to leave for the first night of the course this past Sunday, I had an urge to change my purse before we left.


Well, my generous & gracious sister-in-law gave me a Coach purse a couple months back that I've been using.   As a matter of fact she's been generous to me in many ways - the majority of my wardrobe right now was passed on to me by her... and the clothes are in new or next to new condition.  

I had admired the purse when I saw it at her house.  It's a fun lime green color.  And, a couple weeks later she brought it over to me and said I could have it.  She doesn't use it anymore and she has a collection of purses so she didn't feel she'd use it in the future.

I was truly appreciative of this amazing gift.  Up to this point, my purses have been thrift store or yard sale finds.  And, I generally use the same purse until it is worn out.

Fast forward to our first night of Financial Peace.  I suddenly felt strange carrying this Coach purse to a course that focuses on good stewardship.  I personally have never spent more than $20 on a purse, but for anyone who knows the brand, they'd of course think I spent way beyond that.

And, this winter I'd bought myself a new coat at TJ Maxx.  It was the first time I'd bought a new coat in 15 years!  15 years!  I truly needed it.  And, I did try to pick a coat that looked classic, yet up to date.

So, here I am, ready to walk out the door in my new coat, wearing clothes that are nice (but I didn't buy), carrying a Coach bag.  And, I wondered what people would think about me.  Would they think I was wealthy?  Would they think I was a spender?  Neither of these things describe me, but I was afraid this is how people might perceive me.

I nearly changed my purse before leaving the house.

But, I didn't.

1.  I'm probably putting a lot more thought into what other people might be thinking about me than what people are actually thinking.
2.  I'm not sure it matters.  
3.  My pride was getting in the way.

That's right.  My pride.  Because I almost felt like I needed to carry a sign saying, "But, I'm really a simple girl!".  I take pride in trying to live simply.  And, while that is not necessarily a bad thing, it can be if I set myself up higher than someone else.  

The fact is, many people have been generous to John and I and our boys over the years.  We are incredibly blessed to be surrounded by family and friends who give freely.  I know not everyone has that.

Instead of worrying so much about what people think, I want to instead try to find ways that we can be generous to others,how we can be a blessing.

Things are still just things.  What really matters in how people perceive us is in our words & our actions.

That's what I really need to focus on. 


  1. Karen, I struggle with this, too, sometimes. Two families hand down clothes to our children and they are REALLY nice clothes. When someone compliments something they're wearing, I find myself always chirping up and commenting that we get great hand-me-downs (as if to make an excuse). I agree that focusing on passing along what we can is important. And while I think we are called to set an example, God knows your heart and that's what is most important. P.S. I love your blog's new look:-).

  2. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who feels conspicuous about looking "too wealthy!" My husband's parents are very generous with birthday and Christmas gifts, giving us things we'd NEVER buy for ourselves, but that we appreciate nonetheless, and I also feel like I have to put a "we didn't actually BUY that" disclaimer on those things when people comment. You're right though -- our words and actions speak much more about us than our belongings. Thanks for that reminder!

    Also, your new blog look is beautiful, and your "virtual Christmas card" is great :)

  3. What a great way to think of it. It does feel good o give and bless others as we have been blessed.
    P.S. I have that same purse too :0

  4. Oh I hear you Karen, I do. My mom is a SHOPPER, Nordstrom, trips to Chicago just to shop, all that. I don't know how I ended up the way I am. But she will give me clothes after she tires of them and I just feel so weird about it. I mean, I feel like I am high fashion if I get some new things at Old Navy. I used to really be "into" clothes, finding just the right thing whether it be new or vintage but once I had kid and (one income) that just kind of went out the door. I am kind of lost fashionally (just made that up!) right now. I would love to be more in style but trying to lose baby weight and not spend money on clothes is tough. I am glad you have generous family and friends who can pass on goodies to you. It is nice to have something you might not have ever bought for yourself every once in a while.


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