Friday, June 15, 2012
Simplicity, More or Less.
How many times have you heard someone say 'less is more'? It's humorous that we even bother to keep this saying around when America operates under the impression that more is always more. In fact, we like to not only have more but we want our 'more' to be better, faster, newer, shinier, and more exclusive than our neighbors, friends, and family members. Or as my friend recently pointed out to me, everything is a competition.
Now this is where that territory gets extremely dangerous for me. I compete. I was the girl who started applying for post-graduation jobs in September of my senior year. By Christmas I had my interviews lined up for Spring Break, when I interviewed, accepted a position, and started my progress towards my first 'real world job' while still working on graduating. I wasn't going to be at the back of the pack, I was going to beat this tough job market/economy and be the alumni my school would be proud of.
Worse still? I compete with myself. I'm always pushing myself and never content with where I am. 3 years ago I read 50 books in a year. This year it's at 60. 2 years ago I got debt free now it's about paying cash for my next car, having a 6 month emergency fund, paying off my home before I'm 40, and being ahead of schedule to save for retirement and start investing. I am a pusher. I am a competitor. And I am in a constant battle with discontentment. Or perhaps, was.
I first heard about Jen Hatmaker when my friend Paige had a link up to a blogpost Jen had written. The title snagged me and I clicked through and read her post. It was fabulous. Afterwards I noticed a few people in my inner circle were reading 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. The title snagged me. Post-Haiti I've been more mindful than ever of what I have, what I'm doing with it, and what I'm wasting. Flash forward a few weeks and my Mom came into town talking about this book and how she wanted to read it. Boom, let's do this. We bought it at Barnes and Noble the first night she was in town. Two days later, I bought a copy and had it shipped to my best friend.
My copy is headed to Indiana to be read by my sweet friend Meagan who may be one of my only remaining friends who isn't terrified of my book recommendations right now. This book inspired me to give up shopping for clothes, accessories, and shoes for 7 months. From June 1st-January 1st I'm taking a step (read: a mile) back from consumerism to change my attitude. If that scares you for me, then you may really be terrified when I tell you that may just be the beginning.
I am sick to death of my own bad attitude. Of wanting, wanting, wanting and never being nearly grateful enough. In all fairness, I am grateful for my home, my family, my job, and what the Lord has given me. But this year more than ever I'm tuned into the idea that discontentment still reigns supreme in some aspects of my life. When is enough really enough? After reading the chapter on possessions in this book I wanted to wash my own mouth out with soap for all the times I've said 'but I NEED....' fill in the blank as you will (a black cardigan, more work clothes, another bathing suit, a better stash of beach towels).
For 7 months Jen Hatmaker fasts from something to get to the root of excess in her life. She lives radically different each month as a result and she catalogs her journey through each in a journal-like style in Seven. Her writing style is quirky and at times a little over-the-top for me but I love the heart behind this book. The questioning. The rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty with the 'why' and the 'what' of your own excess.
As this year continues I appreciate people who are willing to do the hard thing while asking the hard questions. This book reeks of that. I've shared a little along the way about examining my own heart but I encourage you if you're interested in taking a long, hard look at your own life and the excess there, pick this up. But I warn you, it may just change your life.