I have been at an critical place in my young adult life. This book review will be a filled with my journey and how Jen Hatmaker’s books wrecked me.
I had spent a month in Rwanda in 2010 and a month in Thailand in 2011. Seeing the love for Christ people had overseas shook me. Their approach to engaging their community and their humility taught me how apathetic and bored I was with church as I knew it to be, yet while overseas I came alive. I loved the way they worshipped God. There was sincerity in it. In America we can just fake it and we get so wrapped up in our appearance that the whole idea of being real with our questions, doubts and concerns is so foreign. Its like we are all waiting for that outspoken person to name the elephant in the room. As if we are all on the edge of our seats, waiting for someone to ask, is this it? Is this what church is about? Can church be really simple like it is for the Rwandan people and the Thai people? These were some of my questions back then and they have lingered in my mind for years.
I have never come home from another country and not cried at least for a week because I am just so broken by all that I have experienced and I wonder what I am missing. I’ve never decided to dig deeper into those questions or really ask God those hard questions because I didn’t know where to start and lets be real- I felt crazy for having those questions. I was raised in church, ministry was my life but somehow it felt like I was missing the main point.
So lets fast-forward to April 2014 when things really changed. I read 7 by Jen Hatmaker. I had been following her blog for a year so naturally when my best friend says she has been crying and reading this book and I have to get it, I bought it the same day. She said oh you will love it. (Jenna and I are like hippie-Jesus loving free spirits that believe anything is possible. We used to sit in the children’s book section in the local bookstore and dream. Yep, we would let our imaginations go where only they could and believe that God could/would do something amazing. ) I had never read anything by an author that openly shared her wrestles and questions with life and church culture, as I knew it to be. As far as I knew, I only talked with a few friends in hopes that I wouldn’t be shunned for my thoughts on the “stuff” we do in church that has nothing to do with souls and Jesus. Most of what I was involved in was all about self-promotion and using that man made platform to build the kingdom. That is what I grew up seeing. In Jen’s book 7 she really digs deep into her transforming journey of letting go of excess and the pursuit of “stuff stuff stuff, more more more” and looking into how her family could change the course of their lives by pouring their finances and resources into things that actually matter. But really, 7 is just the sequel to her book Interrupted. Interrupted is the book I want to talk to you about.
I just gave you a super long intro but I really wanted to set the stage for this book. Reading 7 and interrupted led to the most impactful permutation in my young adult life.
I will cover a few key areas that wrecked me while reading interrupted.
One major area I wrestled with was the churches responsibility to care for the hurting and broken. I knew that an occasional food drive was not really going to address the needs of the community. It had to start with us the church (the individuals). Jen explains it this way: “We don’t get to opt out of living on mission because we might not be appreciated. We’re not allowed to neglect the oppressed because we have reservations about their discernment. We cannot deny love because it might be despised or misunderstood. We can’t withhold social relief because we are not convinced it will be properly managed. We can’t project our advantaged perspective onto struggling people and expect results available only to the privileged. Must we be wise? Absolutely but doing nothing is a blatant sin of omission.”
I found myself on the cusp of ignoring the needs of the community, forgetting the life transforming moments overseas, and settling into my own world oblivious to the needs of those around me and depending on others to see the need and meet it, not me. The real question is why not me? Why not you? Why aren’t we engaging in our community. This simple wrestle is what Jen’s beautifully documents. It’s her journey from ministry and life as she knew it to God brining her husband and family into a “new thing” and ministry via community and building relationships and out of those relationships people coming to Christ. Allowing people to belong before expecting them to behave. Her journey is raw, exciting, and thought provoking. You really can’t read this book without asking yourself, what am I all about? When was the last time I spent time with my neighbor or served the poor not because I was looking to be thanked, but because I was purely interested in their world and serving them because they are human. They have life. They are family. Somehow, life became all about us and we won’t reach out to others if it is an inconvenience or if the people around us don’t look and act like us.
Where did we adapt that attitude? Where did I adapt that attitude?
Jen talks about movement and going when you feel God is leading you into a new thing
Jen states, “When we feel we are supposed to do something radical we can expect it to be misunderstood.” I am not sure what that looks like for you. Maybe its moving to a new city, going back to college, getting a new job, restoring broken relationships. Whatever the case maybe, Jen mentions, “part of the task is going without knowing…if you go wherever God says and when, expect to be misunderstood. And go anyway” Oftentimes, we are waiting on the approval from too many people to just leap when we know in our gut that is what we are supposed to do. No one said leaping would be easy. No one said the next steps would be painted in the sky but wouldn’t we spoil everything if we knew it all? Most of the time we don’t need all the details.
Interrupted describes a crossroad that many people, including myself, are at. Are you ready for a radical life-transforming adventure? If you are, maybe your heart is open to allowing God to interrupt life and church, as you know it. Interrupted gives you the permission to wrestle and the permission to evaluate your world. You can’t get through this book without feeling, inspired, challenged, and broken for the least. You also can’t read this book and expect to stay stagnant and not call into question life as you know it. If I assume correctly, we have all been challenged to allow God to interrupt our life but maybe fear, doubt, or worry have kept us from fully diving in. Either way, we must do it. We must make a conscious effort to be all in.
Jen’s approach is fun, relatable, and humble. While reading her book you feel as if you on a coffee date catching up on months of time that has passed and you just get to listen to this deep transformation that has taken place in her life. Through this story you leave inspired to love better, be more informed about your community, and allow God to interrupt you. Truth is, if I cam so consumed with serving God the way I want to, whose kingdom am I really building-his kingdom or my own? Comfortable Christianity won't cut it anymore.
I have never been in a place of such humility and brokenness until recently. I have never felt more vibrant, awake, and passionate about His kingdom before. I have layed my service schedule down and I have decided to follow his lead. I’ve been inspired, challenged, and interrupted.
Get the book, you won’t regret it.
ABOUT JEN HATMAKER:
Jen Hatmaker is the author of 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and A Modern Girl's Bible Study series. With a heart for her generation, she speaks at conferences around the country. Jen resides in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Brandon, and their five children. To learn more about Jen and follow her blog, go to www.jenhatmaker.com.