that time I was accidentally creepy
I once used salsa to try to bribe a girl into being my friend.
No, this wasn’t some 4th grade will you sit with me at the lunch table kind of thing. But it was a I think you are super cool and awesome and I would like to be your friend and I heard that you love salsa so I hoped that our mutual love of spicy condiments might be enough common ground to insert myself into your life somehow kind of thing.
It smacked of desperation and bordered on creepy, I can see that now. Reaching out to some chick you have never met over the twittershpere and begging her to go eat Mexican food with you because you just KNOW you would hit it off is… well, let’s just say that twitter-stalking is not what the cool kids do. It is super hard to explain- in 140 characters or less – that you aren’t some weird creepy stranger but are just hungry (spiritually, and now that Mexican food has been mentioned, physically.) And incidentally, if you say “I promise I’m not weird or creepy” in a tweet, you are guaranteed to come off as weird and creepy.
Not my proudest moment.
But have you ever met someone or seen a tiny glimpse of their lives and been so impressed that you just knew you needed to be friends with them? That there was just something about them that matched up with you somehow? Please say yes. Okay good; me too.
Enter Jen Hatmaker, stage right. She’s been on the Christian writing/speaking scene for awhile, but I had never heard of her until last year when I heard her speak at the IF GATHERING (by the way, if you don’t know what this is, you need to. Check it out immediately, this is life changing stuff.) Jen was one of the speakers at the conference and I just liked the profound wisdom that she was spewing, her very laid back style, and her sense of humor (also, her outfit.) So later, I looked up her blog and DUG. IT. I mean, I really dove on in and read
6 okay fine, 22 posts and thought This Girl is Coooool. She had this whole other approach to Christianity and Motherhood and Womanhood and Servanthood that I had never really seen before. I really felt inspired and connected to the way she saw things and felt things and wrote things. So I figured we should probably just go ahead and exchange matching heart necklaces over queso and come up with cutesy nicknames for each other. Because it was CRYSTAL CLEAR to me that we were bestest friends and she just didn’t know it yet (I mean, HELLO – she lives in Austin, I live in Austin; she likes salsa, I like salsa; she loves Jesus, I love Jesus; she makes me snort-laugh, I love to snort-laugh… and everyone knows that the very best friendships are built upon the foundation of a mutual love of salty foods and a Savior. …No, I am serious.)
Okay, really though, I just knew there was something about this girl that I liked. So as I continued to read her blog and then eventually her books, I began to see a pattern in her character and her writing that I really respected, even envied. The thing about it is that Jen Hatmaker is not afraid to be herself. And even more impressively, she is also not afraid of being shaped and grown and corrected and sanctified in front of a vastly large and easily judgmental audience, may God bless her brave little soul.
This lady is For Reals, Y’all.
I guess it is probably because vulnerability, transparency and authenticity are all things that I strive for, so I admire it when I see it in someone else. And when I see someone resist the urge to cower and conform, I pay attention. When I see someone dig down deep for courage and conviction and seek God’s will for their lives, I take notice. And when they do all of this while making me giggle-pee a little, I twitter-stalk them (you should know that I deleted my desperate -and very public- invitation for friendship/fried food about 2.5 minutes after having posted it- there is a limit to my shame.)
So when I happened to read her latest post (13 seconds after she hit publish) that her book Interrupted was being re-released with additional material, and that aspiring bloggers/writers like myself could read an advance copy and then write about it, I of course jumped at the opportunity (because one of the things you do for your best friend is support her in her endeavors.)
I had actually read the original release of the book, or at least most of it, back when I was in the middle of the house building, outdoor showering, 500SF trailer living chapter of my life and loved it (the book, not my experience.) I thought it was pretty good then, but with all the distractions of life swirling around me, I kinda grazed through it. Which brings me to yet another God-orchestrated coincidence: Jen ALSO recently went through living in deplorable conditions while enjoying the risk and rewards of moving, living in squalor, cooking & bathing outside, and other such perks of temporary living while building/remodeling- you can see her on My Big Family Renovation right now! AND SEE WHAT I MEAN- WE HAVE SO MUCH IS COMMON (please disregard the live twitter feeds along the bottom of the screen during the show – just in case I fold again and try to lure her in with a a bowl of queso and a chile relleno.)
But back to the book: So I just now finished reading the revised and expanded version. This time, I actually paid attention to her words and reeled with total shock and awe as she told her story of what it feels like “When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity.” And as much as I think we would have in common and could bond over house horrors, demolition drama, and fried food, the bottom line is that I respect a girl who listens for God’s voice and then follows it, wherever it may lead. Jen Hatmaker is not only unapologetically honest and real with her struggles and self-deprecatingly funny, she is impressively obedient to God’s call on her life. I basically want to be her when I grow up.
Allow me to climb up on my soapbox for a moment here: We need more folks like her out there, not only as writers, but as doers of the word. We need people in our lives – leaders and pastors and writers and speakers and friends – who will help to shape us more into the image of Christ. We need people who accept us as our worst selves but also encourage us to be our best selves.
We don’t need more sermons from our leaders; we need more service. We need folks who are willing to be real and human and broken and shaped before our very eyes, and then get down to the real business of Christianity, serving the “least and last.” We need people who are less willing to preach about Jesus and more willing to live like Him before our eyes. Because THAT is how the gospel is spread and THAT is how Christianity is made credible.
Okay, so I shall now take a deep breath and climb back off my soapbox and get real honest here: I need more folks like that around me for the very sake of hopefully shaping me into the same. I need people who chisel out the hard narrow way and then invite the weaker folks (me) on the road beside them to live lives that are bigger than our own tiny worlds. THEN, those of us (me) who have been blessed enough to have had the way paved by these pioneers, need to stop sitting at home reading books about it and get busy LOVING GOD AND SERVING OTHERS, like Jesus told us to do.
That is why I want to be friends with Jen Hatmaker. Not because she is on HGTV or in leadership. Not even just because she is funny or can write like I wish I could. But because I want to be around real honest people who are truth-telling, grace-giving kind of folks that are doing something good in this world. Don’t you?
If you are looking for a writer who, like a mother birdie, gently nudges you out of the nest towards a bigger, better, holier more missional Christianity, Jen Hatmaker is your girl. And if you are looking to be challenged and inspired; if you think there must be something bigger, better, MORE to this Christianity thing than a Sunday sing-along and sermon combo, Interrupted is your book. As Jen puts it in her introduction, “If you have looked at the church at large, the current presentation of a ‘good obedient life,’ or the Christian effect on culture and asked, ‘Is this all there is?’ then you’re in the right place. So then, let me tell you how my consumer, comfortable life was divinely interrupted- and perhaps yours will be too.”
Quick Summary of the book: Interrupted shares the story of when Jen dared to pray, “God, raise up in me a holy passion” and then had the courage to follow God’s voice when He did just that. She discovered that she was “blessing the blessed” and “feeding the fed” and that she was living “…a mirror image of culture, just a churched-up version.” God then began to lead Jen and her husband down a road towards more missional living, making Interrupted the story of essentially “what happens when God shouts in your face and demands entire life change.”
I liked Interrupted for a thousand reasons, but mostly because it gives me a hope and a rope. I too, have a hunger inside me that I believe can only be filled by a closer walk with God (which according to this book, can best be attained through living in closer resemblance to His serving character.) So when I feel that gnawing inside of me but fear that I am the only one or that what I yearn for cannot possibly be done, this book gives me something to cling to. This book shows me how to recognize God’s call to service and then have the guts to follow.
A couple of exceedingly painful points that Jen makes in the book that are continuing to convict/haunt me: “It’s hard to dismiss the idea of a redeeming Christ when His followers are pouring their lives out for the last and the least.” And then later, “Our faith communities run the gamut from judgmental high church to feel-good talent shows, and people aren’t buying it anymore…Our only hope is to follow the example of Jesus and get back out there, winning people over with ridiculous love and a lifestyle that causes them to finally sit up and take notice…This is my high calling to live on mission as an adopted daughter of Jesus. If people around me aren’t moved by Christ of my church, then I must be doing a miserable job of representing them both.”
Preach it sister!!! But also, OUCH.
Interrupted is the story of Jen’s journey in becoming the type of disciple that I can only pray I will someday be; a humbling and painful transition to more Christ-like and missional living. Jen was good enough to share it, and I hope I am smart enough to learn from it. And if you too have interest in taking a behind-the-scenes peek at her journey, I have one free copy in my possession that I will be giving away to one lucky reader. The rest of you can order online here. To win this one free copy, all you have to do is post a comment and let me know which book quote below is the most interesting/challenging to you and why (also, sharing a story of a time you have accidentally been creepy will make me feel less alone and earn you bonus points.) I will be choosing the lucky winner at the end of the week and blogging about this more next time as well.
But before I go, allow me to share my favorite quote from the whole book. I believe that this one tiny sentence not only perfectly summarizes what Interrupted has taught me, but is also the very story of the Gospel, as lived out by Jesus himself…
“Mercy has a cost: Someone must be broken for someone else to be fed.”
My prayer is that this reminder of God’s call for humble, missional Christianity will latch on in my life and help me make a shift in my own walk. In fact, I hope that my heart is so substantially affected that I may also be blessed enough to find my comfortable Christianity completely wrecked and totally interrupted.
Favorite Quotes from Interrupted:
“The largest factor in feeling unfed is not feeding others.”
“Discipleship is not a personal journey with few links to community; it exists to spur one another on toward liberation and execute justice for those too trapped to free themselves… This is not about doing church; it’s about being the church… Church simply provides a nice context for us to live on mission together.”
“Do we need to be fed more of the Word, or are we simply undernourished from an absence of living the Word?”
“If an endless array of Bible studies, programs, church events, and sermons have left you dry, please hear this: Living on mission where you’ve been sent will transform your faith journey. At the risk of oversimplifying it, I’ve seen missional living cure apathy better than any sermon, promote healing quicker than counseling, deepen discipleship more than Bible studies, and create converts more effectively than events. It transforms both the master and the slave.”
“I can’t believe it. Everything Jesus ever said was true.”
and then one question worth discussing; Do you believe missional living is essentially “the ‘new’ the whole world is waiting for”? If so, why?