Saturday, July 14, 2012

Why I Love & (Nearly) Hate Jen Hatmaker

ASIDE: The content of this post is serious and lengthy.  In an unrelated story, I wanted to tell you that my neighbor showed up at my door today, having picked all of my ripe tomatoes, because she didn't want them to go bad.  She handed me a basket of over 6 pounds of my own tomatoes.  A handful of them weren't ripe.  It was bizarre.  Tomato recipes now being accepted.

First, let's state the obvious about Jen Hatmaker: she's awesome.  Like, grab a cup of salsa & laugh for hours, awesome.  Like, good thing Austin is so far away from me or I'd have to consider staking, awesome.  She's funny.  She loves food & laughing.  She's a hot mess.  I love that in a person.  The ability to be a mess, and yet still trick people into thinking you're functioning.  It's basically my mantra, my family crest.

And then, there's the other side of the coin.  That girl will just not stop writing dang books.  And not just any books.  If she'd write a cookbook, or even illustrate a children's book, I wouldn't hold it against her.  But nooo...  Girlfriend's got to write radical, God-moving, life-changing books.  "Bah!" and "Hooray!" all in the same breath.

Yes, a person must change.  Heck, anything that breathes must change or die.  So in theory, I suppose I like change (since I like breathing and all...).  But change is hard, and change is uncomfortable, and change like the type that Jen's books call out to... well, it makes you see your own ugly first.  That's probably the hardest part.

I read Interrupted: An Adventure in Relearning the Essentials of Faith.  I read it slowly and carefully, one bite at a time, much the way I eat delicious cheesecake.  And after a night of either, I generally had a stomachache.  It changed my thinking, changed my bible-reading, changed the way I spent my weekends.  I loved & (nearly) hated her. It wasn't comfortable, but the many question that was postured was this: What if, when Jesus said "Love your neighbor as yourself" and "Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to Me", what if he, well, meant that?  Seems simple, seems a bit dumb.  But at the same time, the obvious answers from those questions weren't showing up in my life.  And then there was change.

Months passed.  I heard J-Hat had a new book out.  I read people's blogs about it.  I looked at the book on amazon.  I told people (sorry Amy!) that I'd join their book club reading it, and then I didn't.  And then that stinkin' Jen.  She tweets:
And since I have the attention span of a bumblebee, I only read the words "#7" "Kindle" and "$2.99!"  2 seconds and one amazon one-click-checkout later, and I've got 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excessdownloaded instantly onto my new Kindle Touch. (Which feels more than a little ironic.)  I still didn't read it right away.  I wanted to make sure I was ready (read: scared) and that I had the time & attention and to devote to a good reading (read: scaredity-scared) and plus I had to fold 5 loads of laundry (read: bawk bawk boc! Chicken. little. scared.). 

Then last night, I couldn't sleep.  Handsome was already simultaneously sawing logs and driving a steam engine, so I left the room to go drink milk or something.  Found my kindle.  Opened up #7.  Prayed to God to both change & spare me, because I'm a weenie who really does want to know Him more.  And boom.  First chapter.  The excess of food in America.  Jatmaker (I'm trying out different nicknames, see which one I like best) restricted herself to 7 foods for 4 weeks.  The same 7 foods.  FOR FOUR WEEKS.  

What does my tiny brain think?  "Oh, well, but I'm pregnant, see.  I would never be called to a fast like that, because, you know, I'm pregnant."  It's that special time of your life where the sun ceases to be the center of the universe, and instead the world revolves around you and your current food hang-up (hungry, nauseated, craving, etc.).  And then God says sarcastically (using Jen's voice, which was weird because (1) Jen's not a dude and (2) I've never heard her actual voice) "Oh, right, you're pregnant.  Good thing those women in impoverished countries never get pregnant.  Then they'd really be screwed."   Or something to that effect.

Dang that heart-piercing sarcasm that God's got (what, He's not sarcastic with you?).  So I closed my kindle and opened my bible, hoping for some inspiration, or at least some less-sarcastic advice.  I read in John, searching the red letters for some wisdom.  I didn't really feel like anything got resolved (ha!  got you there, huh?  thought there'd be a big red-letter moment, didn't cha?!).  But at the same time, I felt a pull.  Yes, Jatmaker (I think that's my favorite so far) is radical.  Yes, she's extreme.  She's also right, when she says that a fast can be used to repent, and to prepare.  Even though it doesn't sound fun, and it's not a hobby of mine, I'm pretty sure I need my heart broken.

I don't need my heart broken in the Husband-leaves-you-for-a-bimbo sort of way, or in the family-dog-dies-in-the-street sort of way.  No thank you.  However, in the people-are-hungry-and-dying-without-Jesus-and-He-loves-them-just-as-much-as-He-loves-me way, well, I could use a little more of that reality in my day to day.  At the same time, I know that diet is a serious part of prenatal care.  So here's my plan:
  • The 12-week mark is coming up.  That leaves 28 weeks left for a full-term baby.
  • 28/7=4.  Earth shattering, I know.  This means that I can do #7 in 4-week chunks.
  • From now until the 12-week mark, I'm going to only buy foods with 7 or less ingredients.  Mostly because it's just better to know what exactly is in your food.  If I can't find it, I'll make it.
  • From 12-16 weeks, each day's diet will consist of 7 foods.  The foods can change from day-to-day, as I need to make sure I'm getting all of my iron, fruits, and vegetables.  But still, 7 foods per day.
  • I'm gonna pray.  A bunch.  Because this will be easy to cheat on (remember, I'm pregnant).  And because I really do want a new heart.  I want to know what to do with the people who hold Will Work For Food signs every week, how to love the people whose lives are so hard, it's easier to ignore.
Honestly, to me, this doesn't seem very radical.  I'm pretty sure I'm both over-estimating my ability to want food that is restricted and under-estimating the number of foods I eat a day.  And maybe it is small.  Maybe it's dumb.  But chances are that it'll be harder than I think, and God can & will move in it.  That's my hope.  And then after a few weeks of the food, I'll read J-hat's (yep, Jatmaker is definitely my favorite) next chapter, and see where we go from there.

So I'm coming late to the #7 party.  That just keeps it going, right?

That dang Jen and her books,


  1. Where did you come from? You belong in a life group I know of in Pennsylvania because God is doing ridiculous things in the lives of those women too. I'm so proud of you and your scaredie-cat ways.

  2. Man, friend - you have a beautiful heart. Your posts are always so honest, real and amazing. Love you!


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