Welcome to the seventh day of the seventh month of the year.
Some time ago, I read a book titled 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.
Rebelling against excess and resolving to live differently is what 7 is all about.
It is a good hard book, a book that caused me to admit that
as my life has zipped along unchecked and automatic,
I’ve actually lived unconsciously with greed, ungratefulness,
ruined opportunities and irresponsibility in some areas of life.
That, my friend, is what I call a good hard book.
With life’s excesses piling up around her, Hatmaker embarked on a self-imposed challenge to simplify her family’s life.
She spent seven months focusing on seven areas of surplus, one focus each month:
Her goal was to begin living a deeply reduced life that would, in turn, allow her room for being more generous. Reduction by means of a fast in each of those categories of abundance.
By focusing on a fast of sorts in the seven areas, Jen hoped to interrupt the lifestyle of privilege she’d created and instead form a “fresh platform in the empty space where indulgence resided.”
Hatmaker explains that when you fast, you become acutely-conscious.
“It’s like jeans you wear every day without thinking,
but take them off and walk outside,
and you’ll become terrible aware of their absence.
I bet you won’t be able to forget you are pantsless,
so conspicuous will this omission feel…
that is basically the result of a fast.
It makes us hyper-aware, super-sensitive…”
And which of us doesn’t need to be jerked from the ordinary, mundane of life to be made more mindful?
At the start of each chapter, Jen explains her plan for implementing the challenge of month.
She then reports every day or so how it’s going… how it’s playing out in her life, in her home, in her heart.
At the end of the month (and the chapter), she gives a review of what she’s learned.
Hatmaker is funny, raw and a bit sarcastic, in my opinion. Her conversational writing is like sitting down to coffee with an honest, humorous, contemplative friend. I laughed; I cringed. I wrinkled my eyebrows and twisted my mouth in thought.
There are several things I appreciated about this book.
I appreciated her frankness. Although she says things in a way that I would not, though she and I would handle things differently, I was glad that she acknowledged how hard it can be to hold to one’s convictions or even just our “self-imposed challenges”.
I appreciated the practical suggestions that Hatmaker gives.
For example, when she tells about eliminating 7 items per day from her home, she doesn’t advocate tossing them. Or selling them for a profit. Or even just dropping everything off at a thrift store. She advises giving the items you purge to a specific organization in your area that, for example, helps victims of abuse or violence. Or asking the local under-resourced school about the needs they see.
I especially appreciated her ‘fast’ from s-t-r-e-s-s. To do this, she began the practice of taking seven sacred pauses throughout the day. On another blog post, I’ll expound on this, but suffice it to say that I am working on this area also… and without those pauses, there would be times when I would continue on the downward spiral I’d started in, uninterrupted. And that doesn’t end in a good place.
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker is a book about embarking on a journey. It’s a book about purging the junk, about paring down to the noble. But it’s a journey that can only be taken by the individual; there’s no pressure from the author to follow in her footsteps. And that’s another thing that I appreciated about this book. The feelings of conviction I felt came only from within.
In each area of life, I have to adopt an “as for me and my house” perspective.
I won’t answer for the way another person lives their life.
I’ll only answer for my choices.
Is that refreshing? Challenging? Frustrating?
After hearing a friend talk about the book 7, I decided to pick it up and read it. The prayer of the author is “Jesus, may there be less of me and my junk and more of You and Your kingdom.” If that resonates with you, I’d encourage you to read this book also.
I’ll only answer for my choices.