I finally finished Jen Hatmaker's Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. To say I really enjoyed it, it an understatement. As I said in my earlier post on the book, I really appreciated that this was her telling her story about what God was doing in her heart, not her saying, "Here is what I did. If you really love God, go and do likewise."
So many of the topics touched on in her book are things I think about often: global poverty, human trafficking, orphan care, American's overabundance, personal responsibility and service, the list goes on and on. I often struggle with wondering if I am doing enough, if perhaps I should be doing something more or different.
For me, this book has been such a timely read as we have been blessed by an inheritance. It's a lot easier to guard your allocation of resources when you don't have as many resources. (Guard meaning "to keep from foolishly spending and overspending.") This financial blessing has in some ways, sparked more questions within me, than answers. What to do with it so that I am honoring God?
Jen echoes the Bible in saying "What we treasure reveals what we love." I can honestly say, at this point, it does not seem like I love money or possessions. Most of the time, I am not struggling with desiring more or being jealous of what others have. But what I do long for is financial security and freedom from financial failure. I want to not have to worry about our bills every month, to know that what we are bringing in is sufficient and we do not need to tap into our savings, to feel like we are actually able to save a little each month rather than spending it all. I do not want to have to guard against financial failure, to be concerned about feeling like others will think we have frittered our blessings away or to question my own decisions about finances while wishing we would have done something differently. I do not want our finances to be a stressful situation. Deep down, that is all a spiritual issue. It's about a lack of trust in God's provision and a lack of trust in God's goodness. Do I really trust that even if our financial world fell apart that God would still provide, that He would be honored in our failures, that we would be at peace despite the shortfall?
I also tend towards perfectionism, performance driven behavior. I have never doubted that God has forgiven my sin or that His grace is enough. But I am a striver; I strive to do more, be more, be better, be more perfect. I suppose because I think He might love me more or that He will approve of my actions. Without giving you my whole journey in regards to that, it's no surprise that those feeling carry over in to my feelings on social justice, stewardship, and service. Perhaps it was just hormones but I cried as I read her words.
"I'm guessing you'e cried over orphans or refugees or starvation or child prostitutes, heartbroken by the depravity of this world. It's not okay that your kids get school and birthday parties while Third World children get abandoned and trafficked but you don't know how to fix that. You're wondering if your lifestyle is connected to these discrepancies, and you have a nagging suspicion thatless is more but it's a muddy comcept. Everyone has ideas. It's confusing and overwhelming. This creates a sort of war within, and it leaves you raw. Sometimes you are a full blown mess over it."
And then she writes more.
"Hear this: I don't think God wants you at war with yourself. He sent the Prince of peace to sooth those tumultuous waters already. Guild is not Jesus' medium. He is battling for global redemption right now; His objective hardly includes huddling in the corner with us, rehashing our shame again. He finished that discussion on the cross. Plus, there's no time for that. We're so conditioned to being a problem that we've forgotten we're actually the answer. God is not angry at you; how could He possibly be? You are His daughter, His son; you're on His team. Don't imagine He is sitting us down for a lecture. Rather He's staging a rally....Guilt might be the first chapter but it makes for a terrible story. if your stuff and spending and waste and stress are causing you tension like mine is, just do the right thing." Do the right thing."
That part I loved. Because somehow it seems easier than saving the world. My friend, Beth, was the first person to call me a visionary, right in the middle of some ministry class that I've long since forgotten. I was shocked because I had never considered myself in that light. But I am. I am my father's daughter. While I'm much more capable of details than he ever was, I am still the one who is sure there is a better way, a more loving way, another way to serve. But sometimes I lose the trees for the forest. I see the big picture and feel responsible. But perhaps it is just about doing the right thing. That's all it boils down to: do the right thing. Do the right thing. That I can do.