“‘Bad, Bad,’ says the buyer, but when he goes away, then he boasts.” – Proverbs 20:14
My struggle with buyer’s remorse grows worse with age. I used to not give a second thought to impulse purchases. Granted, that may be because they usually involved some combination of nuts and chocolate. Maybe it’s the slow, bending weight of caution, each year throwing another five-pound barbell of doubt in my backpack.
“Be responsible,” the anthem of adulthood, could also be translated, “More fear and second-guessing!” Maybe it’s because I know future Justin has less time now to repair the damages. Whatever the reason, I feel the urge to regret more often. I’ve grown fond of circling around past decisions, arms folded, knowingly pointing out all the flaws and errors I should have seen. It’s sure easier than doing something constructive today. The pre-purchase haggle, the clutching FOMO – they’re just buyer’s remorse working its way backward. I know what I could feel later and want to avoid that.
I know there’s another side, the one described in this proverb, and that’s what I want. When my wife and I went to sell our first home, a tiny old condo, our realtor wrote in the description “Pride of ownership!” We laughed over the phrase, but it stuck with me. Sometimes a possession can really grow on you. It could merely be beauty in the eye of the beholder, like the smarmy folks who bring in their precious “antique” cabinet for appraisal, only to hear that they could repurpose it for higher value as firewood.
But sometimes, you discover something is a lot more valuable than you could have ever imagined. The longer you have it, the more you put it through its paces, the more you discover hidden features or unforeseen advantages. That’s the gospel. As a Christian, you come into possession of God himself. Yet every time, before the transaction is made, and many times immediately after, the new Christian is not sure he got such a good deal. He’s counting up all the losses. Even if he knows that God is real and only Jesus saves, he may not be convinced that being saved is such a great thing. I have to give up all this fun so I can be a judgmental stiff?
The truly amazing thing is that God gives us his grace for free, and persists in giving it away even under our disrespectful terms of skepticism. We’re like Nathanael, when he heard about Jesus – “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (Jn 1:46) Alright, God, is there anything good that comes out of this, or is it just a bunch of can’ts and shan’ts? There’s a ton of good that comes out of this relationship with God, but it’s the kind of good that comes from a friendship or romance, that you keep discovering in fresh rounds, and keeps taking you by surprise.
As Christians, we don’t know how good we’ve got it. That’s why when Paul prays for the Christians in Ephesus, he asks that they “would have the eyes of the hearts enlightened…that they might know the hope they’re called into.” He wants them to know the “riches of their glorious inheritance,” and the immeasurable power of God for them. (Eph 1:18-19) The life of a Christian is a never-ending increase in buyer’s satisfaction.