One of my favorite people that I’ve never actually met. That’s how I referred to her the other day to my sister-in-law. I was talking about my new friend, Jen Hatmaker. She’s a fun, stylish, hilarious (with a healthy dose of sarcasm thrown in for good measure) mama that loves God with all her heart. The kind of person you are drawn towards. And when it comes to people like that you don’t have to actually meet them to feel like you know them.
Of course, reading a book they’ve written will help forge that “sister love” pretty fast too. Anytime someone shares their heart and their faith journey with you it’s hard not to feel an instant connection, regardless of the miles between you. This is how it happened with me & Jen. She drew me in with her writing that gave me access to her zest for life, her “this is how it is” no nonsense approach to sharing the real her without all the pomp and circumstance. She made my mama heart swell with her love for her kids (the 3 she had and the 2 beauties she adopted from Ethiopia.) And after watching a couple of episodes of her new HGTV show “My Big Family Renovation” I was all in. I mean any girl that decides to renovate a house while raising 5 kids and allows cameras to follow her around at a time that I can only guess held some of her “darkest hours EVER” deserves my applause. I mean really. Shortly after signing up to be her EF (e-mail friend) (you can too by clicking here) I stumbled upon the opportunity to read a copy of her revised and updated version of “Interrupted.”
I will admit that I just finished this book a couple of days ago. And so, while I wish I could fill this post with a review of the book that is wrapped up nice and tidy with a big, beautiful bow on top…I cannot.
I cannot because I have been suspended here while I digest it.
I feel like someone has pushed the “pause” button and I’m caught between what I thought I knew and what I am just now discovering. Or perhaps more just a fuller realization of the life Christ really wants me to live. And I’m trying to figure out what my action step should be. The step that will help put some meat on the bones of my belief. And the idea of looking in the mirror to catch a glimpse of the life God’s offering me only to walk away and immediately forget what it looks like…it leaves me feeling sick.
I’m kinda stuck because in order to move forward things have to change.
I have to change.
I can’t just read it, and “uh-huh” it and go about life as usual anymore. And it’s not just about the book. Interrupted is a tool that I believe God will use when the hands that open the pages reflect the open heart accompanying it.
And while my physical self feels paused my mind and heart are feeling anything but. They are working overtime, running back and forth, going over previous footage of my life, rewinding and unwinding so much of what I thought I knew.
This book for me was not so much a new idea as it was a resurgence of an idea that had gotten lost in the shuffle of life. It has challenged me to get back to the basics. The basics I had forgotten. Or ignored. Or turned a blind eye to.
And that were now staring me in the face, begging the question, “What are you going to do about it?”
It’s similar to going on a hike. And getting lost. (Not that I’ve ever done that before. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) At some point you realize that you’re off the beaten path and you’re not sure where you are or how you got there. You just know you gotta get back.
You started out on the right trail. But then suddenly, after looking around at your surroundings, you realize you’re not where you want to be. You have to go back to the last place you know you were headed in the right direction and start again. One foot in front of the other. Baby steps.
This is where I find myself. At the last known marked spot.
And I echo Jen’s words in the book when she says, “I wish I could go back. Then I could go to the optometrist without crying in the parking lot for fifteen minutes because I can afford the extravagant gift of good eyesight. It was less heart wrenching to tuck my kids into bed without envisioning the millions of children who will sleep on dirt with no mother to attend to their needs that night………I enjoyed not feeling raw all the time. I liked imagining I was something rather than realizing I am nothing. I can’t unknow what I know, and I can’t unsee what I’ve seen; it leaves me aching.”
The words that leave me aching now may not have had the same impact a year ago. But God has been breaking me. Slowly. His timing in our lives is one of our greatest gifts although we don’t often realize it. Because while I was reading this book my heart was being transported back to Africa. It’s as if every word I read brought to mind the faces of the children I stared into during my time in Zambia this last May. Those eyes. Those haunting, beautiful eyes. Those hands. Those strong worn hands. Those feet. Those filthy lovely feet.
That’s when the faces of my African friends turned into the faces of my neighbors. And it cracked my heart wide open.
God was showing me that the love I had for those African villages was the kind of love that was needed in my own neighborhood.
The need is great. The need is everywhere. The need is next door.
The need showed up in Wal-mart a few days later.
It wasn’t anything big. To be absolutely honest, I’m embarrassed to share the smallness of it. But I will anyways.
I couldn’t exactly tell what was going on, but by the looks of it she was short on money and the line of people behind her were gearing up for a mutiny. We were in checkout aisles next to each other and I felt God whisper to my heart, “Give her some money.” So I did what any good Christian would do…I stalled. I was next in line and I couldn’t very well just leave my groceries there and walk away to help someone else. I mean, I could’ve lost my spot! But my heart started beating harder, faster, louder and I knew God wanted me to do something. So I told God, “Okay, okay, if there’s still a problem over there when I’m done checking out, I’ll go see if I can help.” As I’m sure you could guess, by the time I had finished paying and packing up the groceries in my cart, there was still a need. I walked over and asked how much she needed. I handed her two bills and she gave me one back saying, “Just this one will be enough. Thank you.”
I barely made it across the parking lot to my car before I started coming undone. I couldn’t stop the tears from streaming down my face. I sat in my vehicle with my puffy eyes and wondered how something so small could impact me so greatly.
Could it be, as Jen writes, “We have an innate craving to live on mission with God in the dangerous, exciting world. Out there is where we come to life, get over ourselves, are fed.”
Could it be that something as small as getting out into my grocery store (my world) and living on mission with God (listening to his promptings, even the little ones like covering someone’s grocery bill) could help me get over myself and feed me?
I’ve been contemplating Jen’s questions.
“If we’ve been in church for years yet aren’t full, are we really hungry for more knowledge? In our busy lives, do we really need another program or event? Do we really need to be fed more of the Word or are we simply undernourished from an absence of living the Word? Maybe we love God, but are we loving others? If our faith is about us, then we are not just hungry-our spirits are starving.”
Are you ready to let Jesus’ teachings wreck your comfortable Christian life? Are you okay with living in a state of “pause” for a bit while you ask God to help you figure this stuff out? Are you okay with being cracked wide open, being left vulnerable and raw? If so, then this is the book for you.
But if not, then this is still the book for you. (Sneaky, huh?)
You see, I’m not sure I would’ve answered “yes” to all of these questions myself a month ago. But here’s the thing: The “rawness” I was scared of has become my greatest gift. My vulnerability rubbed me raw until all I had left was Jesus.
That’s all that’s left. That’s all I need.
So, because I have enjoyed this book so much and to say “thank-you” to all my loyal readers, I am giving away a brand new copy of the book Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity. The more you like, share & tweet…the better your chances of winning. So go ahead and comment, share, like and tweet. And may the odds be ever in your favor.
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