We've all felt the clutter of life at one time or another. I think that it comforts us to a certain degree. Having more "stuff" makes us feel secure, distracted, and accomplished. I've truthfully never been very materialistic. Stuff doesn't mean very much to me. Just ask my husband in the way that I take care of my mess of a car, continuously pile clutter in every corner of my house, and resolve to the fact that we will never have super nice furniture because we have kids. I'm okay with it. To a certain extent, I've been a horrible steward of my stuff. I should take better care of what I'm given/what we afford. I've just always had a very "disposable" mentality about stuff. It's here today, it's helpful, if it breaks/is stolen/goes through the ringer, it's okay. It's all disposable and we will just get something else. I trick myself into thinking that my stuff does not own me. Maybe it doesn't. But my perspective on my stuff does. Just because I don't cling to my stuff, doesn't mean I don't take it for granted. I'm not concerned with it being gone, because "out with the old, in with the new". Do you struggle with this? Or do you hold on to your possessions as if they define you?
Enter the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker and my life is wrecked.
I was scrambling to find interesting books to read on our vacation to South Padre Island last week. Remember, it was a grueling 13 hour car ride one way and I needed something to distract me in the car as well as on the beach. Boy, did I find something worthwhile! Well, little did I know at the time (God sure knew at the time! He’s so sneaky) that this simple-looking book carried a BIG message. A message that would stick with me all vacation.
I wonder how many people have sat at a beautiful ocean condo pool and read a book about EXCESS? It sounds awfully ironic – doesn’t it? Well…for me, it just didn't set right. And since I've started it (and many months leading up to this as well) things didn't seem right for us as a family. Don't get me wrong, we were enjoying a beautiful week on the beach, thanks to a gift from my parents and were oh, so thankful for this time. We have been blessed more than just about anybody, but our souls have been unsettled for some time about the lifestyle/world we live in.
Yes, that photo above is me being convicted in South Padre and naturally I posted it on Instagram. (Yes, I like Instagram…sue me!) The caption should have read, “Not an easy book to read while on vacation. Try reading it at the pool…in your ocean condo…while your kids argue about cable TV stations.” It did feel wrong. I was so spoiled at that moment. No, it wasn’t wrong to go on vacation. Actually, it was an amazing free blessing/gift to our family and we are humbled by the love that has been shown to us. It just wasn’t an ideal place to read about excess. Not at all. We just have so much stuff and are so selfish. Don’t you ever get tired of how greedy we have become? It seems like the more we get - the more we THINK we need. We feel like we DESERVE it all. It’s a terrible cycle and I am ready to get off. Something definitely has got to give. I soaked in each word and let it simmer in my mind and heart. This stuff isn’t new but Jen Hatmaker did something about it. She put feet to her words. I spilled my many thoughts and feelings to Hubs. He probably thought that this was just “one of those books” and I would be fine in a few days. But he was wrong. The earlier simmer has come to a full blown boil. Well, do you know what is next? I will not just be another woman who simply reads this book and says that it’s a “life changing” book. I want to do. I want to act. I want to be wrecked to the point of change. Reading isn’t enough for me. This has shaken me to the core. It’s official. I don’t want to be comfortable anymore. It’s been coming. God has been working. And now, more than ever is the time to step out and do something about the culture that we've been living and consuming in as a family.
I've decided to devote the next seven months to this experiment that Jen Hatmaker outlined in the book. She focuses on seven areas of access in a person's life, and dissects each, choosing a way to fast, so to speak, from each area. The 7 areas are: Food, Clothes, Possessions, Media, Waste, Spending, Stress. Everyone is different, every family's needs are not the same, and everyone finds their life "excess" to be different. I will not be conquering 7 the same way that Jen does. I will be making minor modifications so that this time of reflection and fasting really resonates with us specifically. And I'm not gonna lie, I'm making modifications because Jen is a HERO in the fasting department and there is no way that I could actually pull off some of the stuff she has come up with! So I will improvise. Bare with me. :)
Before you start thinking that I am a radical or that this is just yet another one of my thingsneed something like this. We need God to shake us up, meet us intimately, and give us new direction. This is not just a social experiment. This is a grasping for the new life God has for us. For that, and two main reasons, I'm pursuing this time of fasting. The first and foremost is repentance. 7 will be a tangible way to bow low and repent of greed, ungratefulness, ruined opportunities, and irresponsibility. It's time to admit that I'm trapped in the machine, held by my own selfishness. It's time to face our spending and call it what it is: a travesty. I'm weary of justifying it. So many areas are out of control, so much need for transformation. What have we been eating? What are we doing? What have we been buying? What are we wasting? What are we missing? These questions grieve me, as they should and I'm ready for some deconstruction in my life.
The second reason is for preparation. Most of my life is in front of me. I'm only 30 years old and only 5 years into my assignment as a mother. The bulk of my life-work lies ahead of me. My children are young--still entirely impressionable. It's not too late to untether them from the lie of "more". Our new mission as a family is really just beginning. I'm hungry of the reconstruction of something so much bigger than ourselves.
This whole thing is so WEIRD. Really, it's okay to think I'm becoming one of those Christians. But in the words of our pastor, "I welcome WEIRD. Normal isn't working anymore." It's not. I'm sure that most of Jesus' ideas werent' so popular either. I'm convinced that He got the "I-thought-you-were-normal-but-now-I-see-I-was-clearly-wrong" face plenty of times. He seriously knew how to thin out a crowd. He always gunned for less, reduced, simplified. He was the most fully and completely unselfish, ungreedy, unpretentious man to ever live, and I just want to be more like Him. It's as simple as that. If limiting myself of my favorite things for 7 months can help Jesus overcome me, then so be it. I'm okay with an oddball label.
This first month, I will focus on food. I've picked only 7 meals that our family will eat for the entire month. We may get tired of these 7 meals, but we will cling to the fact that this is all we have to eat. Shouldn't be too hard, right? Well, you are correct. I've also added 7 rules for myself in the food department that may cinch the line in a bit and really make the fast this month more uncomfortable. These 7 extra Food Rules Are: *NO Fast Food. *NO chocolate. *NO pop/soda. *NO alcohol. *ONLY ONE grocery trip per week. *NO Pork. *NO EATING after 7 pm.
I'm starting this first phase this Monday. Every Friday, I'll give a summary on the blog as to how it is going and what kind of spiritual/emotional knowledge I am gaining from this time. I recognize that this is a fitness blog, and some of you may not care about how I am cutting back in the other areas of my life, but bare with me. This should be a worthwhile experiment and should develop some disciplines in me that I have lacked before. In the meantime, I HIGHLY recommend you go buy/borrow the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker. Eye-opening, I tell ya!