How I Spent Black Friday – a cautionary tale on apprehension

I am not a shopping fan. Black Friday holds no attraction for me, no allure, no batting eyelashes drawing me to the stores.

I went to the mall on Black Friday.

A Question Never Before Posed to Me

We were in San Diego with family over Thanksgiving. Late Thursday night my wife asked how early I wanted to get up to go to the mall. This is most definitely not one of our annual conversations, because I’ve never gone to the mall the day after Thanksgiving. This year was different, though. There we were in San Diego and our son was able to join us for the holiday for the first time in a few years, and he wanted to hit the stores before they ran out of what he was looking for.

You might be thinking, Why did you need to get up to go with them? Good question.

Our son was staying at his sister’s apartment near her university, about 20 minutes from my in-laws’ house where we were staying. She was going to spend the day in Disneyland with her young cousin, so was leaving early herself in order to get there when it opened.* That meant we needed to pick up our son, since he came to town with us and did not have his own car. So I ended up setting my alarm and settled in for a few hours’ sleep. (For those readers with younger kids who look forward to the day when you will not be driving them around any longer, good luck with that.)

We awoke in the dark and drove through ground fog to pick him up. Our daughter was heading for the Happiest Place on Earth. We headed for the mall. With all the horror stories about how bad Black Friday is, I was surprised to see an empty parking lot. Seriously. We pulled into a parking spot 3 spaces from the front door of the department store.

They separated to find their stores while I went in search of coffee. There was a caffeine kiosk just outside the other end of the department store, so I ordered a bagel with cream cheese and a coffee, sat down with my book and iPad, and waited for my wife and son to summon me when ready to go. An hour later they did so and we left. The parking lot was barely more occupied than when we arrived.

Unmet Expectations

My expectations of the Black Friday shopping experience went unmet.

This type of thing happens to me occasionally. It probably happens to you too. Getting worked up over nothing is a common pastime. Jesus warns against it:

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. (Matthew 6:34.)

Why do I worry about the unknown? There are doomsayers galore out there who try to convince me that all is lost. That’s what the reports about Black Friday shopping always say. And I bet there is partial truth to those reports, based on what I see on the news each holiday season. But there is complete truth in what God says:

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in humans. (Psalm 118:8.)


Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. (Proverbs 29:25.)

Whether it’s shopping hype put out by retailers eager for customers and news media eager for viewers or it’s predictions of doom and promises of deliverance peddled by the latest huckster, trusting humans and living in fear of worldly events is a fool’s game. God is our refuge, the one who keeps his people safe.

After all:

I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
What can mere mortals do to me? (Psalm 56:11, NLT.)

With God, Black Friday is past. He has brought his people – you and me and every one who ever has and ever will belong to him – into the eternal Sunday of Resurrection life in Christ.

No wonder we can trust him.


*It was her birthday the next day and this trip to Disneyland was our gift to her. Why I didn’t insist on going with them is a mystery.


[Jeannie over at Little House on the Circle brought some more wonderful insights to this discussion of apprehension and expectation. She claims that my post here moved her along in writing hers there. Woo-hoo for bloggers building off one another!]

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12 Responses to How I Spent Black Friday – a cautionary tale on apprehension

  1. michellevl says:

    I was a caregiver for a couple of years, and I noticed that the older folks I served were full of fears about what was happening “out there” in the world. As a rule, it wasn’t the stories of war and imminent economic collapse that worried them most. It was stories like the hype about crowded stores at Christmas time.

    Some of their fears had to do with their physical limitations, to be sure. But at least some of those fears came from a steady diet of news stories that made going to the grocery store at 1:45 on a Wednesday afternoon an anxiety-producing event: “The store will be so crowded at this time of year! The news said….”

    Thanks for the reminder that our unchanging, unflappable God is our refuge.

    P.S. – Was Disneyland crowded that day?

    • Tim says:

      She said Disneyland wasn’t too bad. They were able to go on all the rides they wanted, some of them multiple times. We’ve done D-Land at Thanksgiving many times as a family, sometimes on the days leading up to it and sometimes on Thanksgiving itself. Mon and Tue are fine, and it gets more crowded Wed and then Thur. For me though, just about any day is a good day to be at the Happiest Place on Earth.

      For the folks you works with though, it’s sad how something as simple and routine as a trip to the store in the middle of the afternoon can produce such anxiety. I think the news stories are more than just hype. I think they are irresponsible reporting and, as such, an example of the fallen nature of the world we live in. Satan likes to see us anxious to the point of being fearful.

      • cathyallen says:

        I’ve learned and re-learned some things from this discussion (actually, I think I do that with each of your messages, thank you, Tim), but the last line of your reply here “Satan likes to see us anxious to the point of being fearful” grabbed me. You are absolutely right, I’m sure, because I struggle with fear and pray for faith daily. Thank you!

      • Tim says:

        Cathy, I am praying for you too, and I’m glad the words here today spoke to you. Peace is with you always, as God lets nothing near you – spiritually or physically – that is not under his sovereignty.


  2. Jeannie says:

    Your post reminded me of how, before I had my first child, I ‘d read What to Expect When You’re Expecting and imagine all the things that COULD happen. As you might, uh, expect, all the things I worried about mostly didn’t happen, and some of the things that I thought “There’s no way that would happen to us” actually did, and so far I’ve lived to tell about them. Trust in God’s faithfulness is the only cure for worry — thanks for reminding us of that.

    Tangentially, I wonder if Mary read What to Expect When You’re Expecting the Messiah?

    • Tim says:

      In a sense, I bet she did. It’s all right there in Isaiah 9, anyway!

      And as for WtEwYE, we read that too, along with What to Expect the First Year (or whatever that one’s called).I ignored the doomsaying and just paid attention to the things we were already experiencing. (“It says here that nausea, cramps and feeling utterly exhausted all the time are all signs of a healthy baby growing inside. Awesome for you, honey!”)

    • Jeannie, This makes me think of a quote:
      “I have lived a long life & had many troubles, most of which never happened.” ~Mark Twain

  3. Aimee Byrd says:

    This article makes me think of people’s views about technology. So many people who know me will apologetically explain that they don’t read my blog because they just aren’t into all that technology. Some will even make a comment about not having time for that…I know what they are getting at. It’s just funny how they see no problem spending hours watching TV, reading the paper in the morning, or even doing a crossword puzzle. Often, unfortunately, these are the same people who usually don’t read books either.

    • Tim says:

      My high school music teacher said that we always have time to do the things we want to do. (He usually said this right after I said I hadn’t had time to practice the day before.) It’s the same thing with how people choose to spend their reading/TV/exercise or whatever time.

      For those who aren’t readers, I confess I don’t understand. I mean, I do understand that such people exist, but I don’t understand how. There’s probably someone out in some woods somewhere stalking a deer right now who would say the same about me.


      • Tim & Aimee, I’m with you here. Since I’ve gone public about what I read, I’ve been surprised at how many people assume I must spend every waking minute with my nose in a book. I have about one quiet hour per day for deep reading! I rarely watch TV!
        So yes, I agree — “We always have time to do the things we want to do.”
        I’ll be using this line on my kids in the near future.

  4. Wonderful in every way.
    I never shopped on Black Friday and probably never will. . .definitely never will. It is crazy to me! I worked at a mall at a bookstore & Calendar kiosk that they did . . .and it was insane to watch how people acted on Black Friday. It was not too busy at my kiosk, but people were wild ravaging beasts around me. Trust in Him. . .always.

    • Tim says:

      Yeah, that kind of mall madness can really get to me. I’m way too much of an introvert to get much of anything positive out of those types of crowds.

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