I first met Jen Hatmaker on the pages of 7: An Experimental Mutiny against Excess. Her story of moving away from our mindless materialism into more conscious consumption is illustrated through a monthly endeavor to sacrifice luxury for the sake of peace and good stewardship. The experiment she conducts is extreme: eating only seven foods for a month, limiting the items of clothing she wears, and having everyone in her household give away seven items a day. In the book, she writes about her practice of mindfulness and, consequently, graciousness in seven areas: food, clothes, spending, media, possessions, waste, and stress.
In 7, Jen conveys several revelations, some of which connected with my own convictions about living open-handedly. I’m a terrible stuff-monger with serious willpower issues in most aisles of Target. Many of my day-to-day problems are easily solved—from complaining about a too-small house, to complaining about the overflowing laundry baskets and toys strewn across the floor of every room, to not knowing what to do for dinner when we have two refrigerators crammed full of food and nuisance cabinet doors that remain somewhat ajar from being overfull. These issues are easily solved by my giving in and cutting back, and they are solved by my being wide awake and gracious for that which I have and far slower to complain about the problems others would view as blessings.
Interrupted reached me in similar ways. In the last few years, I’ve become far more interested in the Gospels and how they align or conflict with general practices in the American church. I think the subtitle says it all: “When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity.” It speaks to the situation so many of us find ourselves in, complacent or inactive in moments where we’re clearly called to be otherwise.
Hatmaker acknowledges the purpose and function of apologetics, and as much as I appreciate debate and argumentation, I loved her assessment when it comes to people substituting heated exegesis in place of loving our neighbor: “God will stay on His throne without our rigorous defense.” I found that to be incredibly powerful and releasing—although I’ll never give up reading an occasional C.S. Lewis under the covers with a flashlight.
Hatmaker continues praising action above argument: “Love has won infinitely more converts than theology” and points out, “Theology very naturally follows belief, but belief very rarely follows judgment.” These are good words that occur to me as very much in season given the turmoil happening in our country and around the world. Real, active, participative love, plain and simple, must be our call.
In March of this year, Hatmaker found herself in the middle of a controversy when World Vision’s CEO announced its policy change to employ individuals who were in same-sex marriages, a change which resulted in many individuals cancelling their sponsorships (and also a change that was reversed). As the adoptive mother of two children from Ethiopia, Hatmaker spoke out against their hasty decision, again, favoring love above theology as she writes about in Interrupted. She had in mind (and impressed on her heart) actual children with actual expenses related to living (think: water) and education. Far better to favor love instead of theology in this instance wherein children would be immediately affected by the organization’s policy change and subsequent reactionary response.
Jesus said not to worry, but I do. I worry about the kids in Iraq. I worry about depression and suicide and people who misunderstand them both and make everything worse. I worry about hate and what happened in Ferguson and how everyone is making sense of it—or not making sense of it. I worry that we’re so busy in the margins of other people’s stories, scribbling in who and how we think they should be, that we never think to revise our own.
I’ll confess it makes me worry less when I’ve put myself to actual, practical use—when I’m giving something of myself to fill a need. It gives me perspective and graciousness and hope when I see people mobilized and hard at work.
Let me be the kind of person who will catch another person’s sneeze in my bare hand (the motherly equivalent of nobly throwing oneself onto a grenade). I want to hold your hair back in the bathroom. I want to find you a Band-aid, and if I can’t find one, I want to make one, and if I can’t make one, I want to be one. Let me bear the brunt of your anger and agony. I want to cry until my eyes swell over what breaks your heart because it breaks mine, too. I want to be truly be about my Creator’s business, to listen, to be open, and to love–all those things that fulfill me in ways winning an argument never will.
Congratulations to Brooke in Alabama, the winner of the Interrupted Book Giveaway! Happy Reading!by