Do you ever just get stuck? I’ve been stuck in my own head lately. We’ve had so much going on in our lives. So much change. It’s exciting and scary and fun and crazy all at the same time, and sometime in the past month I think I just shut down. I tried to turn off my brain, because I had been stuck in my own head for awhile. Thinking. Thinking. Thinking. Trying to figure out how to live in a new city in a different part of the country doing a new work and living with extra people in my house somehow started to overwhelm me. I can’t imagine why!
I think turning off our brains and just living life in automatic is what a lot of Americans do. It’s easier to deal with life’s hectic pace and social expectations when we disconnect from ourselves and each other. I believe this is why we have so many people addicted to so many crazy things like online gaming, alcohol, drugs, Facebook, Twitter, gambling, pornography, and the list could go on and on. These things help us dissociate from the immediate world around us and escape into something else.
When I check out of living intentionally, I tend to watch too much trash tv, and I quit writing altogether. In order to write you have to think, and in order to think you have to feel. Feeling stinks somethings, and writing leaves me completely exposed. I’ve always been a writer (not really for anyone else. Just for me and sometimes for God.) I started journaling as early as I can remember. I just like to write stuff down. Mostly, I write to process how I feel, think and what I’m experiencing or learning. I write down things that I want to remember. I have an entire large moving box full of journals that represent my entire adult life and experiences to date. If my house ever caught fire, I would grab that box instead of my kids’ photo albums. I have digital copies of their pictures, for heaven’s sake, but there are no copies of those journals.
All this to confess that I needed a kick in the pants this month. I needed something to force me to think and feel and push through the post holiday blahs. Enter Jen Hatmaker’s new book, 7: an experimental mutiny against excess.
First, you need to know what 7 is all about. Jen took seven areas of excess (food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending, stress) and focussed on each a month at a time. It is “an exercise in simplicity with one goal: to create space for God’s kingdom to break through.” Click here to view the video explaining 7.
I think that the structure of the book is what makes it resonate. It’s basically her journal documenting the journey she, her family and her friends took through this social experiment against excess. She shares the good, the bad, the ugly, the highs, and the lows. Some entries consist of confessions. Other entries share amazing spiritual and emotional revelations. Then, in true Jen Hatmaker form there are some entries that are just downright funny. It’s truly easier to digest writing like this,
“Jesus‘ kingdom continues in the same manner it was launched; through humility, subversion, love, sacrifice; through calling empty religion to reform and behaving like we believe the meek will inherit the earth. We cannot carry the gospel into the poor and lowly while emulating the practices of the rich and powerful. We’ve been invited into a story that begins with humility and ends with glory; never the other way around.“
when it’s surrounded by comments like, “Were it not for the intervention of the Holy Spirit, my girlfriends and I would end up on Jerry Springer.”
The sections on clothes and possessions forced me to come face to face with my need to be accepted by others. Now. I have to say. I’m not a shopper or a spender. The majority of my clothes have probably been bought on sale at Target, because I was there to buy milk. Just because I don’t really enjoy the clothes shopping process doesn’t mean I don’t care about what I wear and how I look. 7 made me think about how my clothes make me feel, why I dress the way I do, and how much time I spend caring about my outsides instead of my insides. I love Jen’s reflection on her clothes as she was donating them to SafePlace.
“I thought about how my lovely clothes propped up the outside while my inside was struggling to find it’s way. I smile to think of a broken abused woman slipping these pretty things on and propping up the outside a bit during her healing process. I pray they remind her that she is beautiful, she is valuable, she is worth it.”
Reading 7 this month has reminded me how fortunate I am to be a part of a faith community and friend network that is seeking the way of Jesus. I am reminded that there is so much we can accomplish when we all join together to live simply, responsibly and intentionally. Will you join us?