Gather ‘round kids, and let me tell you a tale. It’s a tale of being wrecked in a good way, finding your tribe, and learning what it means to be real…
Like a lot of Christian women of my generation, I am a big fan of Jen Hatmaker. I follow her blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc. A few years ago I bought her book 7, and absolutely devoured it. I highlighted half that book and have read and reread passages. Here is one of my particular favorite parts:
In Chapter 3, Jen is offloading possessions (the theme of the book is “an Experimental mutiny Against Excess”), and she does it in a very personal way. First, she cleaned out her closet and gathered everything she didn’t need. Then she personally gave the things to people who need them. She didn’t dump her rejects at Goodwill or hold a garage sale, she actually went out and handed things to the people who needed them. This is a time consuming way to unload your excess possessions, but she got to see with her own eyes how God used her stuff to provide for others. On Easter, the Hatmakers’ church was doing an outreach to the homeless, and Jen brought her purse collection for the ladies to take what they want. At the end, there was one little, cute, impractical pink purse left, one she almost didn’t bring because it wasn’t practical, but she included it last minute because she felt like she was supposed to.
So I stood there with my one little purse, when its rightful owner, the one for whom I daresay that purse was stitched together, made a beeline for me.
She had on her Easter finest, tights included, though it was ninety degrees. Flouncy dress with – what else? – hot pink flowers. Hair done in sections with matching beads, pink floppy hat on standby. Leather dress shoes polished to a sheen. Dainty ribbon necklace and rings on four fingers.
She was six-years-old. Her name was NeNe.
Never has a purse better matched its owner. She slipped that hot pink number over her arm and never put it down, not even to eat. Her mom looked at me and no words were necessary; mothers speak a silent language. I took her picture and fussed over her beauty and breathed a thank you to Jesus for the nudge.
I serve a Savior who finds a way to get pink purses to homeless six-year-old girls.
Every time I read that passage I tear up. 7 sits like a rock in my shoe, poking me whenever I think my comfort is the key to happiness. So after 7, I read Interrupted. They actually go in the other order, but that’s how they came to me. Both books were beautiful, authentic, funny, and unsettling in a good way. In the end they led me closer to Jesus and more focused on serving others.
So imagine my enthusiasm when Jen opened the launch team for her new book, For the Love, to her fans. I applied. I figured why not. The fans selected got a free advance copy of the new book. I love free books, Jen Hatmaker, and social media. My entire life is changed because I took that shot.
First of all, I got rejected. I know that doesn’t sound like a life-altering moment, but for me it was, because in not being selected for the 500 member launch team, I found a tribe of 4500 other rejected fans. One woman tweeted about us with the hashtag #the4500, and we started finding each other. Soon we had a Facebook group. Then we had spin off groups reading books together, doing scripture journaling, and more. And what we discovered together was real, authentic, supportive, Christian community – the kind many of you have in your church and the rest of you wish you did. My church’s women’s ministry is great, but my work and school schedule have often kept me out of the loop. I miss it. This group brought all of us together on social media, where I could interact with the ladies when it worked for me.
We began to have really great conversations about faith and family and even things nice church ladies just don’t talk about at mother-daughter teas. We decided that we can’t just keep this authentic community of support to ourselves, so we’re launching a public group called Dauntless Grace Ministries. DGM is still in the embryonic stages, but overnight (literally) we had 400 people on board. If you’re looking for honest, supportive Christian women who are not afraid to talk about real, complicated, messy things, like DGM on Facebook and join the conversation.
So in addition to this life-altering new tribe of women, Jen and her publishing people gave the #4500 the gift of four chapters (and later a fifth) from the upcoming book. It’s called For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards. It hits on that uneasiness we all have trying to balance work and home life, “Pinterest perfect” and “good enough.” The four chapters we got to sample were on fashion, school, the supper club that the Hatmakers and friends started, and the church. The fifth chapter we got via Facebook later and it is about balance. Each chapter can stand alone, so it’s going to be a great bible study book. It’s witty and true, cover to cover. You will laugh for sure, and you might cry. Here are a couple of gems…
“A good parent prepares the child for the path, not the path for the child.
“I am suggesting this, pastors: Offer less, empower more, validate nontraditional ministry, and set a new standard from your pulpit. Preach this, teach this, celebrate your unconventional servants from the stage, band the drum for simple missional lives, and if the machine is killing you, stop feeding it.”
“I think many church folks feel this way about pastors. We perceive them as experts in everything, superspecial and somehow different (better) than us; and we suspect they are always certain when we sometimes doubt.”
The point of this book is to tear down the superficial junk that we put up to look good: the fashion, the fancy school lunches, the church day façade, etc. and to get back to the basics of grace and authenticity. I know that you will love this book. If you think bible study has to be fussy and proper, you’ll be surprised by the humor and imperfections revealed in For the Love. I’m even going to put this out there – I commit to hosting a women’s bible study where we read this book together.
If you want to preorder For the Love, you can find it at For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards” target=”_blank”>Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Books a Million. And this week if you like Food Shelf Friday on Facebook you can enter to win a copy. I’ll have it delivered to your house the day it comes out.
So let’s get real, people. Let’s live in authentic community instead of hiding behind our facades. If you don’t have real life people that you can be real with, come find us on DGM. However you get there, just go. Find a place where it’s safe to be real and honest and imperfect and loved anyway.
Thoughts? Leave a comment!