Jen Hatmaker continues to mess with my life.
If you haven’t been around here much, let me explain a bit. Jen Hatmaker is this witty, smart, deeply-in-love-with-Jesus pastor’s wife from Texas. (Yes, she had me at “witty.”) Her book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess messed with my thinking in some very specific, practical ways. Jen took seven months to work through seven areas in her life that she thought might have become a bit overgrown: clothes, shopping, waste, stress, media, possessions, and food. (If you’re beginning to squirm, you get the idea.) None of those struck a chord with me at all *cough* and so when I finished the book, I had lots of ideas about what was wrong with my life but no real plan to do much about it.
Reminds me of another Book I often read …
… But I digress. So anyway, I started seeing posts from this group called The Summer of Seven Participants on Facebook. Apparently, several ladies were creating their own version of Jen’s experiment. Over the summer, they would take on one area each week, make drastic reductions in that area, and write about what it was like and what they learned. Because I don’t have enough to do, I thought it would be a great idea to join in.
Clothes came first. Reducing to seven items of clothing for a week sounded like a challenge and turned out to be a relief! My Wrapping up Clothes Week post is from a happy girl who met a challenge and thought it might be a good way to live all the time, quite honestly. Next up? Possessions. That one got me a bit giddy, and I gleefully piled up “stuff” for Goodwill and stacked it by my back door. When time to move on to food came around, I knew I was in trouble, but didn’t know how much trouble it would be. Finally, I admitted defeat; nope, I would not do well on only $125 per week–and that’s 100 times more than I was supposed to be using. Fail.
Media week was a triumph. Leaving my phone on the charger, saying no to all the random television shows the kids wanted to watch during the day, and staying offline (for a week!!) made me want to move to Pennsylvania Amish country permanently (even if I did have a few jonesing-for-facebook-moments) as I shared in the Media Week Wrapup. Best of all? We’ve broken the habit. No one assumes the tv comes on first thing in the morning, nor after lunch. We’ve probably cut our television watching in half–hurrah!
And then I got stuck.
I had planned to take a week off, then engage in *cough* Self Week this past week. Self isn’t actually on the list, but the girls organizing the challenge thought it would be a lovely one to throw in (thanks so much for that, btw). After all, in most of these seven areas, the real issue revolves around our selfishness–and isn’t that what excess is all about? Problem was, I had no plan. Food, clothes, media, possessions–easy; just use LESS.
How do we get to less of self? I had no idea.
So I thought … oh, well. I’ll choose a different area, and begin next week. But I never did choose something else, because self week came to me. I started to catch glimpses of what it could be about. And they weren’t pretty.
Accusations about my character that came from too many voices to be ignored. The evidence of brokenness in relationships cutting hearts asunder. An inability to connect sending the same signal. Ugliness rearing its head all over the place, in areas I’d rather not see.
Prophetic tendencies mean I’m a black and white person. I had to laugh at a recent list I saw online which gave the most likely weaknesses for the prophetic type: anger, frustration, judgmentalism, pride, rebellion, jealousy … nice. While I’ve been ignoring Self week, God hasn’t. His finger has found my hot spots. Right now I’d rather crawl under a rock and hide for a week than interact with anyone (my harshest judgment being reserved for myself).
Here I am, then; at the end of self week and the end of myself. How grateful I am for the Father’s faithful hands, holding my heart gently as I admit defeat and a need for change. Only He knows what must go.
“And Mary said, ‘Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.’” Luke 1:38
“‘No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.’” John 15:15
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” Proverbs 27:6
I don’t trust the knife in my own hands. Think I’ll leave this one to the Lord.