I mentioned before that I was reading 7 by Jen Hatmaker. Well, I’ve finished it now and would highly recommend it to everyone. It’s a quick, engaging read and I laughed out loud at various points, but that’s not why I liked it. (OK, maybe it is one reason I like it; I’m part way through Tina Fey’s Bossypants and laughed more with Jen.) What I appreciate about Jen (or at least 7) is that she is talking about real issues, the stuff of faith, as it were, but she can laugh at herself and not come across as sanctimonious when she shares the lessons she learned in the process of fasting. How do we spend our time? Our money? Have we truly thought/cared about our (abundance of ) food? Our clothing? Our possessions? Do we see ourselves as stewards of all the above, or do we consciously or subconsciously view it as ours to do with as we will? Have we taken to heart and action God’s call to love the poor, the oppressed, the outcast, the stranger? Anyone who is willing to tackle these themes head-on and still make me laugh gets a hat tip (pun intended) in my book.
I confess when I started reading it I was a bit stand-offish. She declares that she is an all or nothing type of gal, so when she decided to eat seven foods or wear seven pieces of clothing for a month I internally declared that a random bit of legalism. I might have missed the entire point if I hadn’t kept reading. What happened was that I was reminded, again and again, of her desire to fast so that God might be able to shape her more readily, that she might hear His voice more clearly. Spoiler alert: she did. And it changed her in great ways.
But it’s one thing to declare this a great book. (So great, in fact, that despite checking it out from the library, I’m probably going to buy it and add it to our collection.) It’s quite another to ask what this means to me, and what God is prompting me to do as a result. Here are things that come to mind:
- to fast. It may extend farther, but I want to physically fast from food. I’ve had years of excuses (I’m not pleasant with low blood sugar, I’m pregnant, I’m nursing) but it’s now time.
- to eat down my kitchen cupboards/refrigerator/freezer. I know some people do this just to start afresh; I want to do it to see how long it will last, to stop and realize how.much.food I regularly store. Over the last two weeks I’ve made very conscious decisions to eat what’s in my cupboards (plus fresh produce). Give me this day my daily bread? If these last two weeks are any indication, I think I store months of “bread”.
- making sabbath more intentional. I’ve pondered this over the years after having such incredible sabbaths in grad school. But the detail that struck me was the need to plan for sabbath. (Duh, I know.) But I think I thought I would just stop working and rest, without realizing that, especially in this season of life, there is preparation and discipline that occurs beforehand to make sabbath possible. Could meal planning, cleaning, and laundry become part of my wild Friday night routine so I wouldn’t feel pressured by them being undone on Sunday?
- Tom and I decided to train to become respite care providers in the foster care system. More details to come.
I’m sure there are more things that God will show me as we take these baby steps. But it feels exciting to act again. It’s adventure time.
p.s. I’m ending with a quote that talked about her readers, which I found so accurate that it was almost a bit disturbing. If you’re anything like me, I hope you’ll be encouraged as well.
I’m guessing you’ve cried over orphans or refugees or starvation or child prostitutes, heartbroken by the depravity of this world. It’s not okay that your kids get school and birthday parties while Third World children get abandoned and trafficked, but you don’t know how to fix that. You’re wondering if your lifestyle is connected to these discrepancies, and you have a nagging suspicion that less is more but it’s a muddy concept. Everyone has ideas. It’s confusing and overwhelming. This creates a sort of war within, and it leaves you raw. Sometimes you’re a full-blown mess over it.
Hear this: I don’t think God wants you at war with yourself. He sent the prince of peace to soothe those tumultuous waters already. Self-deprecation is a cruel response to Jesus, who died and made us righteous….He is battling for global redemption right now….We’re so conditioned to being a problem that we’ve forgotten we’re actually the answer….The body of Christ is mobilizing in unprecedented numbers. Jesus is staging a massive movement to bind up the brokenhearted and proclaim freedom to the captives….Jesus is waging war on injustice and calling us to join Him. This is way more fun than self-condemnation, no?