I just finished the book For the Love- Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards. Above Jen Hatmaker’s name on the front cover you will see the words “Best selling author of 7”.
A couple of years ago I did a little review of 7 and it wasn’t my cup of tea. In fact I believe I said “I personally found myself very much like an outsider amongst her cool group of friends…” But I heard great things about For the Love and I wanted to give a try.
Guess what? I loved it.
This time I felt like an insider. I know that sounds funny, but I really felt like I was just hanging out and chatting it up with a friend. I laughed out loud, I cried, I pondered. Seriously. I’ll admit if this was a book by a newbie writer we would all be really confused and probably give it two thumbs down because she is all over the place. This is not a book were each chapter builds on the next. She can be giving a word about the church and a call to action in one part and then having a humorous look at turning 40 the next. Oh and there are random recipes in there too. So it really is kind of disjointed and hard to figure out what she is going for, but I didn’t mind one bit because it just worked. It was great.
My favorite chapter was the one where she addresses fashion concerns. I loved her description of hipster kids fashion in Austin Texas. I know about this epidemic because I love Austin Texas and have visited many times. I also know about the “miniature Anthropology ads with a side of inner torment” because I have an instagram account. I have seen my fair share of babies with skinny jeans and bowties hanging out in teepees. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I had to give a hearty amen out loud when I read this part from Jen.
“Im Just saying there is a place for Garanimals, folks. Sometimes kids need to wear jean shorts and T-shirts because, well, they are children, not performance art installations.”
My favorite quote from the book, was one she shared of Annie Dillard and it says “How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives”.
Truly inspiring, although it got me wondering if I will look back and feel like I spent my whole life breastfeeding. Just kidding.
Okay, now for one tiny critique and it’s not a critique really, it’s just a thought. The chapter called “Poverty Tourism” gave some harsh insight into the downfalls of short term mission trips. I won’t go into all the details, but it implied that a lot christians are doing more harm than good when they “helicopter in to love on the Have-Nots”.
She pretty much rips the church and youth to shreds in this bit and I felt conflicted. I tried not to be offended, but mostly I was confused. Here is what I gathered from it in the end. Jen says she has spent “years of conversations with missionaries, local leaders, poor community members, and nonprofit directors.” and this has been her conclusion. I have to take her word for it and assume this really is a problem that is happening. Still, after thinking about it for a while I felt proud. Because even with being as objective as I could possibly be I realize that the churches that I have been a part of have been doing right. I didn’t even realize this was an issue because I know literally hundreds of people that love missions in a genuine way. I know dozens of missionaries on a personal level. We have community with them and the relationships and mission trips are so much deeper than just a what can I gain from this experience attitude. So this chapter may be a slap on the wrist for some, but it was a wake up call for me to really encourage my friends that are serving RIGHT NOW in Kenya truly loving on the kids, not just for a Facebook photo op, but because the love of Christ has inspired them to be a light and serve the fatherless and the widows. I could go on and on about our friends in different nations all over the world serving as full time missionaries! I have seen so much life transforming good come from the seeds of short term missions. I am really grateful to have had a few opportunities to go on these trips and I pray that when the time is right there will be more.
Anyway, I still feel like this book was very empowering and inspiring. I obviously enjoyed it and recommend it. For the Love.