I’ve been reading Jen Hatmaker‘s 7: an experimental mutiny against excess. And to say it’s moved me, would be lie. Because “moved” is a far cry from the gnawing, unsettling and somewhat disturbing feeling I’m left with each time I open and close a chapter. It only intensifies as I read on.
“7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence.
Food. Clothes. Spending. Media. Possessions. Waste. Stress. They would spend thirty days on each topic, boiling it down to the number seven. Only eat seven foods, wear seven articles of clothing, and spend money in seven places. Eliminate use of seven media types, give away seven things each day for one month, adopt seven green habits, and observe “seven sacred pauses.”
You see, I’ve come a long way from the Chanel wearing, compulsive shopping, dining out every night girl that I once was. I moved from the big city to a small ocean village and adjusted by hobbies from wining, shopping and dining to running, reading and cooking [at home]. We reigned in our spending [thanks to the life changing ways of Financial Peace University] and learned to live within our means. We tithe. we donate. We contribute to outreach ministry groups within our church and are vocal about our faith in every facet of our lives, both personally and professional. To be frank, I thought we were doing well… heck, dare I say it, “our part!”
But as I’ve turned the pages and resonated with the “Jen of 10 years ago,” as she puts it, I’ve shuttered… that Jen , [paraphrased] “drove around nice neighbourhoods coveting the perfectly manicured landscaping, four car garages and beautifully groomed owners – labelled neighbours as “messy and irresponsible” rather than “widow in distress,”- had to be awesome and hated to be ordinary- failed to forget that God is the ONLY authority- despised defeat and struggled to admit she didn’t know everything- saw value in influence and reputation more than breaking bread with the homeless and giving away the shoes off her feet.”….. and the list goes on.
Ouch. Thats me.
Oh dear Lord, forgive me. I have so, so far to go….
“Comfort the afflicted. Afflict the comfortable.”
My husband’s been wanting to get this saying tattooed on his arm for a while. I was so proud of him when he told me his desire to do this. I imagined my Jesus loving husband challenging complacent Christians to grow up in their faith and start making Jesus known in their areas of influence, both in word and deed. [A side note here: Dave and I struggle with understanding how people can keep their love of Jesus and their faith to themselves, if they truly understand destiny’s are at stake and genuinely want to see their friends and loved ones joyful and “found” rather than running the rat race of life lost in a shuffle of “be more. do more. acquire more!” ] Then on the flip side, I imagined him [Dave, my husband] with his arms stretch around a brother, desperately struggling to find hope, purpose and “the answer” to his EVERY question and struggle.
But if I’m honest with myself, [and you, like God calls me to admit my sins to my brothers and sisters] I would divulge that I really didn’t see myself in this equation or the quote pertaining to me. I neither saw myself as afflicted, nor would I dare to admit comfortable… that was until I started reading 7.
Which brings me full circle to the gnawing, unsettled and somewhat disturbing feeling challenging me in ways I’m not quite clear of yet. But what I am certain of is change- action on the part of this “over consuming, abundant living, Christian in box, on top the hill looking down. ”
“So, what’s the payoff from living a deeply reduced life? It’s the discovery of a greatly increased God—a call toward Christ-like simplicity and generosity that transcends social experiment to become a radically better existence.”
Lord lead me to action. Help me to change. Give me what I need to live a deeply reduced life and to do it with joy. I want more of you and less of me…. and all my stuff!