For the Love of Extravagance

Three years ago I stood in a dressing room trying on dreams. The white lace, pearls, rhinestones, and silk dripped from every curve of my body. I smiled, imagining the look on my soon-to-be husband’s face when he beheld me in such finery. After a few sighs and a few more turns, I caught sight of the price tag as it flashed in the mirror’s reflection. “Of course,” I thought, “I fall in love with the dress JUST outside my budget.”
I gazed longingly at my reflection, wanting to be worth the expense, but I had decided that this wedding would be as thrifty as possible. For once, all of my choices would be guided by sensibility, not whim. A soppy sadness settled over my spirit as “but it’s my wedding day” echoed in my mind.

This was the story of my life! Desires constantly at odds with means and expectations. I hated my desire for beauty because it always complicated the “holier” work of frugality.
In the depths of my heart, there is a word that describes, inspires, and drives me in a way that no other word can: Extravagance. This is the bouquet that woos me, sweeps me off my feet, and sprinkles magic all over the mundane. For as long as I can remember, I have loved all of the extra-special details that elevate a thing or experience from “nice” to “gloriously extraordinary.” Unfortunately, this often stands in opposition to frugality.

I was teased incessantly for my “expensive” tastes. I didn’t want a lot of things; I just wanted what I had to be meaningful somehow. “It’s not because it is the most expensive,” I argued. “It’s because I genuinely appreciate the time, craftsmanship, and artistry that goes into a finely cobbled shoe or a finely crafted garment.” You can imagine the eye rolling.

This was frustrating for me because I started to believe that my desire for beauty, intention, and quality was wrong. I felt that it probably upset God somehow. “But then,” I wondered, “why would the ancient warrior-poet King David write about desiring to see God’s beauty above all else?”

Suddenly, I remembered the Sugar Daddy approach that God took to the temple in which I AM would dwell. No expense was spared; the best of the best was hired for each aspect of its construction; and special favor was bestowed on each craftsman. Then, it hit me: I am the NEW temple. This was a big deal, especially on the precipice of cutting a marriage covenant.

What if extravagance were just as holy as frugality?

Yes, God created order, balance, and moderation; also, He created abundance and extravagance. In fact, extravagance seems necessary to knowing goodness. How could we taste and see that the Lord is good if we only experienced lack and disappointment?
God wants to fill our cups abundantly so that seasons of scarcity won’t feel like lack; however, all too often extravagance is touted as “wasteful” and “irresponsible.” Maybe this kind of thinking has more to do with capitalism than it does with God’s heart for the world. Wisely stewarding resources also means spending it well.

There are thousands of ways to practice extravagance, and spending more is not implicit. It can manifest as simply as “favorites,” which invite you to boldly approach life with what you delight in: to sit in your favorite chair, savoring a favorite drink, enjoying your favorite book or time with a favorite friend, gazing upon your favorite view. We have these favorites for a reason. They are revelatory colors of God, and to deny them is to deny the intoxicating incarnation of our creator. The edges of our collective complexity shine ever brighter, each of us a unique jewel reflecting the face of God as only we can. How else could we be the crown of God’s creation?

On that day three years ago, I walked out of the bridal boutique beaming with delight. I was clutching a dazzling tiara and an elegant, cathedral-length veil, and I had a dress fitting scheduled in six weeks. God had given me an extravagant gift—a beautiful picture of what I AM thinks about me and reveals uniquely through me.

Kelsi Folsom holds a B.M. in Voice Performance and has traveled all over the world participating in operas, musicals, jazz bands, and choirs. Now a mom to “three under three”, she currently resides in Saba, Dutch Caribbean while her husband attends medical school. When she is not putting on her best Cherubino while changing dirty diapers, you can find her perfecting gluten-free recipes, snorkeling, *gasp* reading, enjoying a nap, or trying to make sense of her life over french press. Kelsi writes here, and is also a regular contributor to the island website Women Who Live On Rocks.