I finally finished For The Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standard by Jen Hatmaker. This whole “finishing the book moment” is something I feel like I should get a blue ribbon for or at least an award of that kind of caliber. It’s not that I finished it, and I can finally cross it off my 2017 Reading List. Over this summer, I realized that once I get close to the end of a book, I put it down. Y’all, I put it down with the intention of not picking it up again. It’s not that I’ve suddenly become disinterested but I absolutely hate goodbye endings for tv shows and books. In Jen’s favorite saying, ‘For the Love’ you’ve only had 3 chapters left since March. I recently mourned the end of Hart of Dixie though, and now I’m having to say goodbye to Jen? It’s just too much for my little reading-loving heart to take. (I get that she has a new book out. I can see that I have several chapters left of Seven to enjoy. Yet this problem remains!) On to reasons I believe y’all should be picking this up as your next read.
Her Writing Style
Give me a book or a podcast that sounds like one of my best friends with more wisdom and life insight from future seasons, and I am all ears (or eyes). I absolutely love that writing style. I think it’s because it doesn’t dance around subjects and is willing to pack a punch to the gut – in the best of ways of course. It’s like getting a letter from one of your best friends that doesn’t hold back. She’s included all the sweet and tender moments to the ridiculously invasive, the ‘my friend needs to know this stuff’ that is probably not meant to be shared for all the world to see and everything in between. I absolutely love it.
Her Wit + Humor
Y’all, she wrote an entire chapter of tweets like it was 1985-2001. What’s better than that? Jen is one of those authors who is able to tackle a topic like grace and impossible standards with humility and humor. She doesn’t just show us the beauty of grace but imparts knowledge like the difference between tights and leggings as pants. Spoiler alert: Tights as pants is NOT the answer. As a girl known for her wit, she has nailed it.
When I first heard that she knocked off Jimmy Fallon’s Thank You Notes segment, I wasn’t sure what to think. (If you have no idea what that is, go search for Jimmy Fallon Thank You Notes on youtube. You’re welcome. Also, block off at least an hour to go down that rabbit hole.) I was very wary because my love of Jimmy Fallon is pretty deep, and I just didn’t want to see one of my favorite continual segments ruined. Jen did not disappoint. She wrote the kind of thank you notes that Jimmy Fallon hasn’t touched but that definitely pulls at my heartstrings with thank you notes to treadmills, Caillou, automatic flushing toilets to name a few. I think the best part of her thank you note chapters is the way she utilizes them as a buffer chapter between some heavy stuff that needs time to sit on your soul.
Her Challenging Words
Let’s talk about that heavy stuff that needs some time to sit on your soul. (This may be partly influenced by me listening to Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker on audiobook a few weeks ago.) I’m not going to be delving into theology here. There’s a place and time for that, and it’s just not right now.
The very first chapter of my copy of this book has highlights and arrows, underlines and squiggles – that’s how I know this is going to be a good read from the very beginning. Jen wastes no time to start telling us to calm down, live in the season we are in and gives us permission to not “measure our performance against an invented standard and come up wanting, and it is destroying our joy. No matter how hard we work or excel in an area or two, it never feels like enough. Our primary defaults are exhaustion and guilt.” Hi! That’s so me. Throughout the book, Jen delves into some excerpts of Brene Brown’s research in her book, Daring Greatly. Those words cut to me. I’ll save that for an upcoming blog by itself though.
The other challenging chapter for me was Jen’s call to love the church. She called out members, potentials, pastors, staff and so many more. The church is a broken mess of an institution, one that I have struggled with many a day. Jen’s words caused me to sit and ponder how we imperfect humans who are so very fallible in our own rights go about worshipping a perfect God let alone in a formal context with other believers. If I’m not grieving even a little bit how we can’t glorify God perfectly in our human gatherings of ‘church’, am I even involved in church? I’m talking about being involved in a very real and intentional way, not just the “I go there a couple times a year” church commitment that our society deems as passible.
Like I said, I struggle with the church – how broken it is, yet how beautiful it is at the same time and how God has chosen it to display a glimpse of his glory. The moments where my faith has been least affected by the formal gathering of church, whether positively or negatively, have been moments when I’ve stepped away for whatever reason. I stepped away last year from a formal gathering of the church as my heart grieved and healed some tough situations. Stepping away from church doesn’t necessarily mean turning your back entirely. In my case, it meant stepping down, being intentional about my own relationship with God rather than serving. It meant sticking with my spiritual growth through studying his word, podcasts, reading, tough conversations, prayer and ultimately my own time spent with Jesus. Rather than catering to the needs of everyone around me, I asked for those brothers and sisters of mine who were intentionally walking alongside me to rally around me during this season so I didn’t get lost in the mix, so that I didn’t step away for good. For me, stepping down wasn’t turning my back on God. It was a much-needed reprieve and rest after an intense season of ministry. God called me to step down and step back for a season, a very difficult and weird season. This isn’t the case for everyone, but for me, I needed that time away for healing and restoration before I could serve in a formal gathering of believers again.
Do I recommend this?
In short, yes. I believe that this would make for a great book club read with wisdom sprinkled throughout bursts of humor. If you’re interested in reading it, feel free to purchase it here.