A few years ago I began to get very uncomfortable with all the excess in our life. Our pastor was doing a Lent sermon series in the book of Isaiah. I was reading Francis Chan and David Platt. I was following numerous blogs of people who were adopting, giving, living “radical” lives for the gospel. At the same time I was reading and learning more about the real cost of consumption to the earth and to people. Over the years we have made baby steps in many areas in order to simplify our lives. And when a favorite blogger of mine, Jen Hatmaker, came out with a book titled 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess I knew I wanted to read it.
Here is the description on Amazon: American life can be excessive, to say the least. That’s what Jen Hatmaker had to admit after taking in hurricane victims who commented on the extravagance of her family’s upper middle class home. She once considered herself unmotivated by the lure of prosperity, but upon being called “rich” by an undeniably poor child, evidence to the contrary mounted, and a social experiment turned spiritual was born.
7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence.
Food. Clothes. Spending. Media. Possessions. Waste. Stress. They would spend thirty days on each topic, boiling it down to the number seven. Only eat seven foods, wear seven articles of clothing, and spend money in seven places. Eliminate use of seven media types, give away seven things each day for one month, adopt seven green habits, and observe “seven sacred pauses.” So, what’s the payoff from living a deeply reduced life? It’s the discovery of a greatly increased God—a call toward Christ-like simplicity and generosity that transcends social experiment to become a radically better existence.
The year rolled on and I just never got around to ordering the book. I continued to read Jen Hatmaker’s blog and her posts were always inspiring and convicting and funny. Then late last year a friend at church asked me if I had read the book. She had just read it and was eager to discuss it. She mentioned organizing a group of women to read the book and do the experiment together. I told her that I would love to be part of it!
In early January the idea was brought up again. At first I was reluctant to join in because I am at a tender place right now. I have leaned towards legalism and rule-keeping all my life and I wasn’t sure that starting an experiment like this, when I was trying to lean into grace and unconditional love, would be the best thing for me. But I talked to friends, and prayed about it, and I was so excited by the idea that I decided that I didn’t have anything to lose. So I ordered the book and when it arrived devoured the whole thing in a day and a half.
I do not fear doing this out of legalism any more (I will explain more about that in another post) and I am eager to embark on this experiment. I am going to share this journey on this blog as a way of documenting my process and maybe even inspiring someone else.
Here is how the 7 Experiment is working for the group at our church. A bunch of us are reading the book and also doing a version of each “fast” as described by the author for a month. As we go through the experiment we are encouraging/challenging/sharing on a private Facebook group. Here is how the months will break down:
Food = February, Clothes = March, Spending = April, Media = May, Possessions = June, Waste = July, Stress = August
So there is my introduction to what we are doing. Next week I will give some more thoughts as to the “why” I am doing this. Feel free to get a book and jump into this craziness with me! Even if you chose not to do the “fasts” I highly recommend this book. It is funny, convicting, thought provoking, and challenging in all the best of ways.