Remember back when I said I was “being haunted by a book?” Well, I’m not the only one being haunted by “7: An ExperimentalMutiny Against Excess.” Turns out that “7” (by Jen Hatmaker) is ruining the lives of families across America! (Just in case you can’t sense my sarcasm, let me just tell you that I’m kidding. No need to go getting all nasty on me in the comments about Jen Hatmaker being a Saint. I know. I’m on Team Hatmaker. I even read her husband’s book, okay?)
Here’s the gist of Jen’s book “7”: most of us live lives of crazy excess. We might not see it, and we might, in fact, want more stuff, but that’s kind of the point. We’re so caught up in the pursuit of “stuff,” and the image of having lots of stuff, that we don’t even realize what we’ve become: a people who exist for the purpose of obtaining and enjoying comfort. Sloths, basically. Sloths with closets full of clothes we don’t wear, and stuff we don’t use, existing on diets of processed food. (My words here, not Jen’s.) And that–if I may be so informal–totally sucks. So Jen took seven months, and focused on eliminating excess from seven categories: food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending, and stress (which is where the subtitle comes from: “An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess). If I could force you to read the book I would, and though her journey is a spiritual one (Christian, specifically), the lessons learned, and the realizations acquired are worth reading about, regardless of your personal religious affiliation.
Why give stuff up?
If you’re familiar with the idea of “fasting,” (abstaining from all or some kinds of foods or drinks, especially as a religious observance) then take that concept, and apply it to things other than food, and you “get” the idea behind “7.”
Jen explains fasting well in 7: “A fast creates margin for God to move. Temporarily changing or routine of comfort jars us off high center. A fast is not necessarily something we offer God, but it assists us in offering ourselves.” She also lists six circumstances in which one might initiate a fast to “summon God’s movement in [their] life:”
Like Jen, I can definitely identify with fasting for repentance. Jen sees fasting for repentance as “a tangible way to bow low and repent of greed, ungratefulness, ruined opportunities, and irresponsibility.” To which I say yes, yes, yes and yes. Though I consider myself a thoughtful and grateful person, my actions simply do not match my view of myself. In so many ways, I’m a hypocrite, and I need to repent for that big-time, and will have to continue repenting for that all the days of my life. I’ll never be “perfect,” but that’s not the goal. I want to become more and more like the one who created me; that’s the goal.
And again, like Jen, I can identify with fasting for preparation. Like I may (or may not?) have mentioned previously, I feel as if I’m at a crossroads with my work, yet I can’t see a clear path ahead of me. I have a cloudy picture of where I might be headed, and I want to know for sure that it’s something God is calling me to do, not something that I simply want to do. So I guess I’m “fasting” for preparation AND inquiry. Even better!
So what does this all mean?
So yeah, here’s the kicker: I’ve joined a blogging group, y’all. Next stop: couponing, watching The Bachelor and, throwing linky-parties or whatever. (Does one “throw” a linky-party?) If you’d have told twenty-three-year-old me that in five years I’d be “serious” about my faith, or a mother, or PART OF A BLOGGING GROUP, I’d be all like, “this gypsy fortune-teller has got me all wrong. Doesn’t she know that I, like Miley Cyrus, Can’t Be Tamed?”
SO. I’m banding together with a group of bloggers (who are basically strangers to me, as much as anyone can be a stranger on the Internet) to try our hand at a summer-length version of “7.” I’ve considered going whole-hog on this thing, but I have a tendency to jump into things with two feet, only to realize that I’m in way over my head, and then I somehow have to weasel my way out. (I know, I know: I’m so honorable.) So rather than burning myself out and quitting halfway through, I’m committing to our “Summer of 7” project enough to give it its VERY OWN CATEGORY in my nav. bar. (Is this the blogging equivalent of getting your own drawer at your boyfriend’s house? Like, he’s “committing” to you, but not enough to put a ring on it quite yet?)
Digressions aside, I’d like to invite you all along with me on a mini-journey. A blogging-roadtrip, if you will. Here’s my (very flexible) “Summer of 7” schedule, and I’d love it if you participated right along with me!
Summer of 7 “Schedule”
(Details and rules and the like will be posted on the first day of the week. Or maybe the day before the first day of the week, I’m not sure.)
June 3-9, Stress: I’ll follow Macrina Wiederkehr’s “structured” prayer schedule in her book “Seven Sacred Pauses,” thereby forcing myself to pause throughout the day for prayer. Something tells me this is going to be more difficult than I imagine, what with chasing around a toddler and all. Also, I’ll be attending Storyline Conference this week, and I’m a little concerned about the timing of the sessions, and how they’ll coincide with Seven Sacred Pauses.
June 10-16, Food: Only eat seven foods for a week. I don’t have to eat them all in one sitting, and condiments count as foods. When Food Week begins, I’ll post a list of my seven foods. (Bear in mind that I’m going to be as nutritionally well-rounded as possible.)
June 17-23, Possessions: Each day I’m going to purge things from our closets, cabinets and garage, and at the end of the week I’ll bring them by a local women’s shelter.
June 24-30, WEEK OFF: I might be traveling to VidCon this week, and thinking back to how insane the week leading up to VidCon was last year, I’d be crazy not to take this week off. So, a brief intermission from “Summer of 7” is in order. If I don’t go to VidCon, then I’ll adjust my schedule and let you know.
July 1-7, Clothes: I’ll wear seven items of clothing for the week, which I’ll list at the beginning of the week. This one isn’t going to be difficult, because I live in California, and it’ll be summertime (“and the livin’s easy…”). I have plans to ramp this one up considerably, but I’m still hashing them out, so second half of this one is TBA. (Be excited.)
July 8-14, Spending: We will only spend our money in seven locations. I’ll kick this week off with a list of those places.
July 15-21 , Media: No Twittering, Facebooking, blog-reading, Instagramming, Pinteresting, TV-watching, video-game playing, etc for the entire week. BUT, and this is a big but, part of my job at iFixit is to be ever-present on social media, so when I’m being paid by iFixit, I will do my job as usual. It will take every once of my will-power not to log in to my personal accounts, but so help me, I can do this. I’m still not sure how I’ll update the blog on my progress for that week. Maybe I’ll journal it all on pen and paper, scan it, then upload full-res images of my scanned journal pages? That might be fun. We’ll see.
July 22-28, Waste: I’ve always wanted to start composting, so maybe this will be the week that I do that. Also, we’re TERRIBLE at recycling, so this might be a good time to establish solid recycling practices in our house. This is also Ellie’s birthday week, so I’ll figure this one out a bit better as I have time to think about it.
Things That Make Me Anxious About “Summer of 7”
(In no particular order)
- I’m concerned that people will see this as simply a test of will-power, like “CAN I only eat seven foods for a week?” rather than an exercise in purposeful reduction in order to examine the condition of our hearts. How will limiting my buffet of choices make me feel? How will the very human part of me that cherishes comfort react to new boundaries? Of course I CAN do each of these challenges, but if the focus is just a matter of “how strong is my will-power?” then this whole thing is totally pointless. Fasting and restriction is not the point, but a means to an end.
- Is my insecurity going to make me feel the need to explain every weirdo thing I’m doing whenever I feel uncomfortable? Or worse, will I end up bragging about it? Am I going to make this more about me externally, than me internally? A week is a short amount of time, and if I’m not careful, I could very well spend the entire week mourning my creature-comforts and not actually be changed on a heart-level at all. Double pointless!
- Is a week really enough time to be affected? Won’t I just spend the whole week counting down the days until the next week of suffering begins? I’m not really sure that a week is enough, but I’m going to give it an honest shot.
- I’m in a blogging group.
PLEASE let me know if you’ll be participating at all. I’d love love love to cheer you on, and hey, accountability is important! And if you’re not going get crazy and do “Summer of 7” right along with me, then leave me some encouraging words of support, because I will need it.
Last thing, promise: ‘member that I’m blogging with a group? Here are the other crazies that are blogging The Summer of 7 along with me:
And, well, me right here at melissajenna.com of course.
Love you all! xoxo, Gossip Girl
- 7: An Experimental Mutiny On Excess – Jen Hatmaker (thespentpenny.com)