For the love, where to begin?
I was a little late to the Jen Hatmaker train, and to be honest, I don’t usually veer towards trendy. But when I saw she had a show on HGTV, when I read some of her blog, I began to really like her. Her writing was hilarious without trying too hard (something I can’t stand) and so spot-on spiritually that I’d come away from reading her blogs feeling like I’d just gone to church (complete with head nodding and “amens”). By the time For the Love came around, I’d already read 7 and Interrupted.
For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards is a excellent installment in Hatmaker’s repertoire thus far. She writes essay-style, sometimes stream of consciousness, even. But the thing I really appreciated about this book which made me like it a lot more than others along the same vein is that this book is overall pretty cohesive. Its about what happens when we get outside of ourselves and just love people. Sure this is a theme throughout most of her writing, but its put in very practical and life-giving ways in For the Love. She alternates chapters with a “serious” (though laced with hilarity) theme, then goes to a funny essay. This style makes the book enjoyable, digestible and keeps it moving quick. I read it in two days.
I knew I was in for a good ride when I had underlined much of just the introduction. She begins by laying out her hope for this book- I love when authors do this. It makes me feel like I really understand where they’re coming from when they were writing this. She says, “I hope you look with fresh, renewed eyes at all your people— that one you married, those ones you birthed, the ones on your street and in your church and at your work and around the world— and you are released to love them as though it is your job."
While some of her thoughts might make conservatives squirm (“What? We have to love everyone? Even the gays?”), from my observation and what I know of scripture, she is right on with the Gospel. Church can indeed take place on your front porch at sundown, while sharing a glass of wine and conversation with friends. We are not the answer to the world’s problems. The world does not need the church to paint anymore of their buildings— they need Jesus. I could go on and on about the points I appreciated, but there are so many. Jen continually challenges my Western way of thinking, particularly when she puts it like this:
"If it isn’t also true for a poor single Christian mom in Haiti, then it isn’t true. If a sermon promises health and wealth to the faithful, it isn’t true, because that theology makes God an absolute monster who only blesses right westerners and despises Christians in Africa, India, China, South America, Russia, rural Appalachia, inner-city America, and everywhere else a sincere believer remains poor. If it isn’t also true for a poor Christian single mom in Haiti, it isn’t true. "
I’ll conclude with what was my absolute favorite chapter. Chapter 11, in talking about her kids. This is a letter to her 5 children with her wishes for them. She writes (in part),
“Empathizing is key to a wholehearted life. I pray for your kindness more than your success, because the latter without the former is a tragedy. God measures our entire existence by only two things: how we love Him and how we love people. If you get this right, you can get a million other things wrong.”
I went on to highlight the following three pages, so I will not copy them here… I”ll just let you go get the book and read it for yourself!
Overall, this was a good book. I liked the overarching theme of grace in all places and Hatmaker’s down to earth, no fluffy-stuff kind of faith. I would definitely recommend it!
***Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.***