So. Have I told you guys about my friend Jen? Years ago, my friend Kim asked me, “Have you heard about this book where a lady gives up seven things over seven months and writes about it?” She did not sell that book well because I said, “Um. No thank you. That sounds boring and stupid.” And then the universe laughed at me because here I am, many years after Kim loaned me a book called 7.
I was a committed Jen Hatmaker fan.
I started following Jen on all three of her main social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. She is hilarious and wise and has a heart for those who are “the least of these.” And when she announced her newest book, set to come out in 2015, I was stoked. At the beginning of 2015, Jen posted about her launch team opportunities. I quickly filled out the form and didn’t think of anything of it, especially not when she shared on social media that 5,000 people applied and only 500 were chosen. I was sure I wasn’t in that group — but I was, and when I found out int he grocery store, I screamed. Out loud. My apologies to those behind me in the express lane at Vons. #awkward
I’ve read this book several times and I’ve been involved in the launch team community for nearly six months now. And every time I reread the book, I am struck by how I see Jen’s words unfolding in my very own reality. That is the heart of this book. It’s a pause in an incredibly stressful world and a reminder that women can show grace to one another. There is so much truth packed in these pages.
I especially love what Jen has to to say about telling the truth. It ties in so nearly to the concept of grace. We don’t show grace to ourselves or others even though we’ve been shown ample grace by a graceful, generous God. As women, I think we so often get trapped in a cycle of shame – something tragic or sad happens to us, and instead of speaking out, we are shamed by others and by ourselves and we let those feelings fester. The same so thoroughly covers the grace that we forget it’s there.
What if we didn’t allow that fear to be the controlling force in our lives? What if, and just go with me, when these awful things happened to us — we spoke up? Certainly we can’t tell all of our truth to every person, but as appropriate we can share some pieces of our hard places with others? Jen writes:
That’s it. We open our mouths and we let the light out. Light burns up darkness. Light always wins when we let it. You know why? Because when we speak the truth, when we let the light win, we steal the power that darkness has over us. When we share, we transition from powerless to powerful.
In our launch team group, I am seeing this truth lived out. Women who know Jesus and who don’t and who are uncertain have shared it all — marriage problems. alcohol abused. drug abuse. abortion. rape and sexual abuse. infidelity. so much more. And every time someone shares something, another woman says, “… hey, me, too.” We are breaking the power of darkness and shame buy allowing others to know they aren’t alone.
Goodness. A book has started to reveal this avalanche of grace. And the good news it, it’s not our avalanche of grace — it’s God’s. I love how the Gospel is threaded throughout For the Love. We have this grace because of Jesus, not because of ourselves. And I am ever so thankful to read that in these pages. Jen reminds readers of a basic truth: Jesus will never, even fail us.
It’s been an honor to read, reread, and fall in love with Jen’s words. If you haven’t read it, do! It’s available for your e-reader and in all possible book vendors, including Target (which is crazy cool!).
Don’t forget, life is hard. My wise friend Jen says this:
We’ll stumble; that’s part of the course, but we’ll leave no woman behind. Our generation will cross the finish line having loved God and people with all our might.
Maybe we will stumble, but friends — we will finish well.
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And PS — if you’ve made it this far, join me on Instagram tomorrow. I’ll be giving away a copy of For the Love. You can find me under @kristaonpurpose. See you then!