Book Review: 7 by Jen Hatmaker


Recently I heard about this book and was intrigued. The book is called 7 An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess written by Jen Hatmaker. The book is Jen's personal story of fighting back against our culture's love of money, greed, materialism and excess in almost every part of life! 

She set aside 7 months. She located 7 areas of excess and focused on each one for one intense month. Her 7 areas were: food, clothes, spending, media, possessions, waste and stress. 

Here's a brief video that explains what the book and the experiment are all about.

Her approach was radical, for sure. However, I find myself drawn to the simplicity of what she was getting at. The focus was not on what she was giving up, it was on what she was gaining. What was the payoff? A more simple life, with actual TIME and SPACE for God to show up. Living a generous life and realizing it is a better way to live.

This book challenged my thinking. I know that my family is poor by some American standards and yet based on the rest of the world, my family is wealthy beyond measure. We own a vehicle, a home, and have never missed a meal. That alone puts us in a category of wealth. If you're reading this, you are rich too! 

Yet, we act selfishly, always seeking more for ourselves and acting without regard for those who truly have needs. We (I) so misunderstand "wants" and "needs." My kids think they need more toys. I think I need or deserve new clothes. We need camping items or vacation time. These are luxuries that most of the world can truly not afford because they are busy seeking basic needs - food, clothing, housing. We are looking for Christmas gifts while they are looking for their next meal. The author refers to this as "blessing the already blessed" and I have latched onto that. We give gifts and think we're helping each other out. But all we're doing is blessing the already blessed. We're giving more stuff to people who already have more than enough stuff. While others who have NOTHING continue on without hope. How did our world get so mixed up?!

So I am challenging myself to live differently in the ways that I can. We're purging, giving away more things. Clothes are going to our church clothing pantry, offered for free to anyone who needs them. My Christmas list is getting pared down. What I really want this Christmas - is for family members to donate money to a charity of their choice and then tell me about it. Why did they pick that one? Tell me about the great work the charity is doing and I will rejoice! The needs of the world far outweigh my wants. 

The other area in which 7 challenged me was prayer and stress. Author Jen Hatmaker spent 1 month focusing on this issue. She paused to pray 7 times each day. She outlined a different focus for each of those 7 prayer times. She gave Bible passages that relate to the focus. For example, first thing in the morning is the Waking Hour, when we focus on a clean slate, new chances, fresh mercy for this new day, resurrection, praise and celebration. Psalm 19, Psalm 95 and Psalm 147 relate to these areas. I have found this approach to be challenging (and hard to do all 7) but also rewarding. I don't get down on myself for missing one of the times, but whenever I realize what time it is (as I sit to eat lunch, lay down at night, whatever), I think of the focus for that period of time. I pray. I hand my burdens over to the Lord. I take the focus off myself and pray for others. It's simple. It doesn't have to last hours or even 15 minutes. But it's communion with the Lord, it's turning my heart once again to Truth and Peace. 

So,I recommend this book, but more than the book I recommend self-reflection. I recommend prayer. I recommend stepping back to look at the excess in your life and simply asking God what he thinks about it. Ask Him to give you eyes to see how you and what you have could be a blessing to the world. How could you do with less but live more abundantly?


jami said...

Hi Shannon!
I just started reading this book a few days ago and am loving it, glad to see that you also enjoyed it!


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