Eight years ago, I was living in L.A.'s Filipinotown. I had been trying on this downwardly mobile lifestyle for about six years then. Sometimes it fit, and sometimes it was just too scratchy.
It was around that time I read Shane Claiborne's Irresistible Revolution. I was inspired by the book to be sure. But I also found validation. When I first moved into the city, I only knew a handful of people making similar life choices. Social justice, simplicity, solidarity... these words weren't as trendy as they are now. (Apparently, I'm 108 as I write this.)
Maybe most important of all, Irresistible Revolution offered me language. It helped me talk about the ideas stirring in my heart in mind. The book articulated some of my experiences of faith and the world.
Also, when I read Shane's book, I was single. I had zero children. And I felt free as a bird to live as an ordinary radical.
Recently, I've been reading Jen Hatmaker's Interrupted. She describes her own paradigm shift from giving talks entitled "How to Be a Woman of Confidence" to leaving a church post, future unknown, with a desire for "barefooted church."
Jen's story occurs when she was in a life station more similar to my current one. So the book has helped me reevaluate some of the ways this lifestyle is still influencing and challenging me.
I read about her and her husband feeling deeply that God was asking them to leave their jobs. And then the silence. She writes, "God may be leading you away without a clear final destination yet. As maddening as that is, could it be that He needs you to release what was before you can appropriately grasp what will be?"
I can relate to that tension of feeling certain what God is asking me to do, but panicked because I don't know why or how it's going to play out. That kind of drama was fun... before I had bills and kids and whatnot. So I have appreciated Interrupted because Jen is writing from a place that truly understands how uncomfortable it can be to throw off the comfortable.
When I made the decision to live in urban communities and be a part of the good things happening here, I wasn't really giving anything up. I may have been choosing a life direction that was different than expected. But people weren't shocked as I flung off my titles and my wealth and my influence. I didn't really have any of those things.
Not saying I have those now. But I do have experience and a house and my little plans. I was super challenged by these words:
"When Jesus told us to "take the lowest place" (Luke 14:10), it was more than a strategy for social justice. It was even more than wooing us to the bottom for communion since that is where He is always found. The path of descent becomes our own liberation. We are freed from the exhausting stance of defense. We are no longer compelled to be right and are thus relieved form the burden of maintaining some reputation. we are released from the idols of greed, control, and status. The pressure to protect the house of cards is alleviated when we take the lowest place."Interrupted is encouraging me to take notice where complacency, materialism, and that "always seeking more" has reared up or taken root in my life. Are there areas I need liberation?
As much as I don't love thinking about that (who does?), I'm thankful for Jen's signature humor throughout the book. (To give you an idea, the first sentence in the Introduction is: "My parents rented our old house to murderers." Well, now that I think of it, maybe that wasn't supposed to be funny...)
Full Disclosure: I received a copy of Interrupted from Jen's team. But I'm glad I did. The book has come at a good time for me personally. I'm almost finished, and I'd like to pass it on. I think you'll enjoy her wit, her honesty, and her commitment to the Word and following Jesus.
If you'd like a FREE (gently read) copy of Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker, just leave a comment on this post. (Must have a U.S. address to receive the book.) I'll randomly select a winner on Friday, August 22, 2014.