7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (Updated and Revised)

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (Updated and Revised)

by Jen Hatmaker

Paperback(Revised)

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Overview

Why do we pursue more when we'd be happier with less? This is the story of how New York Times bestselling author Jen Hatmaker and her family tried to combat overindulgence—and what they learned about living a truly meaningful life along the way.

Do you feel trapped in the machine of excess? Jen Hatmaker was. Her friends were. And some might say that our culture is. Jen once considered herself unmotivated by the lure of prosperity, but after she was called “rich” by an undeniably poor child, evidence to the contrary mounted and a social experiment turned spiritual journey was born.
 
is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of materialism and overindulgence: food, clothes, possessions, media and technology, spending, waste, and stress.
 
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 a social experiment to become a radically better life. Revised and updated to reflect newer challenges of modern life, is funny, raw, and not a guilt trip in the making, so come along and consider what Jesus’ version of rich, blessed, and generous might look like in your life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593237441
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/03/2020
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 140,748
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Jen Hatmaker is the author of the New York Times bestsellers For the Love and Of Mess and Moxie. Jen hosts the award-winning For the Love podcast and leads a tightly knit online community, where she reaches millions of people each week. Jen and her husband founded Legacy Collective, a giving community that grants millions of dollars around the world. They live in Austin with their five kids in a 1910-era farmhouse that they overhauled as the stars of the HGTV series My Big Family Renovation.

Read an Excerpt

Introduction

This is all Susana’s fault. She had to trot out her little social experiment, “Pick Five” right when God was confronting me with my greed, excess, materialism, consumerism, envy, pride, comfort, insatiability, irresponsibility, and well, there was other stuff but I want you to like me, so I’ll shelve the rest for later. (Did I mention “need for approval”?) Let me back up. My husband, Brandon, and I have undergone profound transformation in the last three years. Let me sum it up: God really messed us up. We were happy-go-lucky; Brandon was a pastor at a big ol’ church making excellent scratch, and we spent our money however we wanted (on ourselves). We were climbing the ladder, baby. Fortunately, we didn’t have to worry with the poor because we were paid pros serving the saved. We spent so much time blessing blessed people, there was nothing left over. Besides, that wasn’t really “our thing.”
 
Then, let’s see, a bunch of stuff happened, the Holy Spirit leveled us and laid our motives bare, we turned into crazy people, yada yada yada . . . we started a new church centered on justice. Sorry for the gaps, but it’s too much (but my book Interrupted will walk you through the thrilling account of God turning our world upside down).
 
Our adventure in relearning the essentials of faith, Austin New Church, has been on the ground for two years. It’s a little faith community that has, quite simply, changed my life. Our mantra is “Love your neighbor, serve your city.” Taking a cue from Francis Chan, we take the Scripture “love your neighbor as yourself” seriously, and we give away half of all we receive. We won’t spend more on ourselves than our poor neighbor.
 
A poor church plant operating on half of its intake means we rent a worship space with dancing frogs painted on the back wall and carpet that saw the Nixon administration. Our front door won’t open properly, which resulted in one guy leaving during church to get something, not being able to get back in, and sitting on the curb until service was over. Our parking lot looks like it was hit by an earthquake—and then patched up by drunken monkeys. We have no support staff, no secretaries, no copy machine. Our band is almost entirely homegrown. When we needed a drummer, one of our guys reported playing “a few times in college.” He was on stage the next week where he kicked over a cymbal and accidentally launched a drumstick into the crowd. These are deficiencies most pastors would never stand for (or most churchgoers), but we won’t buy carpet at the expense of orphans. $10,000 for a new parking lot could fund a hundred thousand tree seedlings to reforest Africa’s decimated land and stimulate their local economy. It’s kind of a no-brainer.
 
But before you launch a parade, let’s revisit my description in the first paragraph. Granted, we descended many rungs in the last three years, and transformation did not come cheaply or without pain. We suffered loss—relationships, reputation, position, security, approval, acknowledgment—all the stuff I used to crave. But here is what I gave up the least:
 
Comfort.
 
I might have disagreed two years ago when having a conversation with a homeless man was the most uncomfortable situation I could envision. When God first sent us to serve the poor, every moment was awkward. Each confrontation was wrought with anxiety. In Interrupted, I made this statement:
 
“I thought I’d never be happy again.”
 
However, God changed me and grafted genuine love for the least into my heart. I looked forward to every encounter, rejected service that was labor-intensive rather than relationally focused. I became a girl who loved the marginalized. I couldn’t get enough of them in my personal space.
 
So what used to be comfortable (being a big fat consumer Christian) became uncomfortable; then what was uncomfortable (engaging the poor) became comfortable. Follow? Perhaps I gave up emotional comfort for awhile, but then God affirmed Himself as our provider, established the vision He gave us, and taught me how to love. The uncomfortable turned into our life’s mission, and we would never go back.
 
That said, a new tension began lurking. The catalyst was the week we housed twelve evacuees from Hurricane Ike. Our little church, four months old at the time, took in eighty strangers from the coast that had nowhere to go. We moved our three kids into our bedroom, washed sheets, blew up mattresses, rolled out sleeping bags, and readied the house for an onslaught. As carloads arrived and we welcomed them in, one ten-year-old boy walked into our home, looked around with huge eyes, and hollered:
 
“Dad! This white dude is RICH!”
 
We are.

For years I didn’t realize this because so many others had more. We were surrounded by extreme affluence, which tricks you into thinking you’re in the middle of the pack. I mean, sure, we have twenty-four hundred square feet for only five humans to live in, but our kids have never been on an airplane, so how rich could we be? We haven’t traveled to Italy, my kids are in public schools, and we don’t even own a time-share. (Roll eyes here.)
 
But it gets fuzzy once you spend time with people below your rung. I started seeing my stuff with fresh eyes, realizing we had everything. I mean everything. We’ve never missed a meal or even skimped on one. We have a beautiful home in a great neighborhood. Our kids are in a Texas exemplary school. We drive two cars under warranty. We’ve never gone a day without health insurance. Our closets are overflowing. We throw away food we didn’t eat, clothes we barely wore, trash that will never disintegrate, stuff that fell out of fashion.
 
And I was so blinded I didn’t even know we were rich.
 
How can I be socially responsible if unaware that I reside in the top percentage of wealth in the world? (You probably do too: Make $35,000 a year? Top 4 percent. $50,000? Top 1 percent.) Excess has impaired perspective in America; we are the richest people on earth, praying to get richer. We’re tangled in unmanageable debt while feeding the machine, because we feel entitled to more. What does it communicate when half the global population lives on less than $2 a day, and we can’t manage a fulfilling life on twenty-five thousand times that amount? Fifty thousand times that amount?

It says we have too much, and it is ruining us.
 
It was certainly ruining me. The day I am unaware of my privileges and unmoved by my greed is the day something has to change. I couldn’t escape the excess or see beyond my comforts though. I wrung my hands and commiserated with Brandon but couldn’t fathom an avenue out. We’d done some first-tier reductions, freeing up excess to share, but still . . . the white dude was really rich.
 
Which brings me back to Susana. About this time she announced her Pick Five project: only five foods for forty days subtitled “Simplified Life, Amplified God.” My first reaction was, “She’s so crazy.” (I really love food, and that will be become apparent in the next section.) But as the experiment unfolded and I heard what she was learning, I became a teeny bit enamored.
 
See, I am an extremist. I don’t learn lessons easily, subtly, or delicately. I can’t be trusted with loose boundaries. If God gives me an inch, I will take a marathon. Dipping one toe in doesn’t work for me; it simply hastens my return to the couch where I can return to my regularly scheduled program. I am a difficult student who is extremely bullheaded. Total immersion is the only medium that can tame me.
 
I was where all my best ideas happen (the shower), and in forty minutes—I apologized to God for the egregious waste of water—“Pick Five” turned into 7. It had sloppy edges and “undeveloped” is too kind, but I realized this extreme social experiment was my ticket out of nauseating consumerism. Or at least it would start the engine.

I ruminated for six months, letting it marinate, forcing my friends to discuss it with me. I started praying about what God wanted; what would move me closer to His agenda and further from mine? How could this be meaningful, not just narcissistic and futile? What areas needed the most renovation? How am I blind and why? Where have I substituted The American Dream for God’s kingdom? What in my life, in the lives of most westerners, is just too stinking much?

Seven months, seven areas, reduced to seven simple choices. I’m embarking on a journey of less. It’s time to purge the junk and pare down to what is necessary, what is noble. 7 will be an exercise in simplicity with one goal: to create space for God’s kingdom to break through.
 
I approach this project in the spirit of a fast: an intentional reduction, a deliberate abstinence to summon God’s movement in my life. A fast creates margin for God to move. Temporarily changing our routine of comfort jars us off high center. A fast is not necessarily something we offer God, but it assists us in offering ourselves. As Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, said, “It is exchanging the needs of the physical body for those of the spirit.”

Customer Reviews

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 66 reviews.
TXAmy More than 1 year ago
The author identifies 7 areas of excess in her family's life and chooses to focus on changing their ways in each area. By focusing on one area for 4 weeks, they could see which changes to make and get to work. I enjoyed the book thoroughly. I liked the author's approach... self deprecating humor with truth bombs sprinkled throughout and all tied to her faith. I also understand how overwhelming changing habits of excess can be all at once... I appreciate she tackled them one by one. Easy read that leaves a lasting impact.
skhmom23 More than 1 year ago
Well written: just when it gets pretty serious she throws in funny stuff. This is a good wake-up call for all of us who can afford to buy the book. We have a whole lot of stuff we don't need! Even if you don't do the things she does as drastically, moderation is what we need to remember to apply to our daily lives.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If your "closet" is overflowing with food, clothes, money, waste, stress, etc. and you don't have room for one more thing, then this book is a MUST READ. Jen Hatmaker struggles, falls to her knees, rises up again and triumphs in this experiment with excess. She did it not only for herself and her family, but for all of us who question our own "full closets". I found this book to be insightful, helpful, hilariously funny, and demanding. Jen Hatmaker backs all (or most) of her opinions up with His word and what He expects of us. I will be rereading this book, suggesting it to friends and requiring my husband to read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book will quickly help point out any possible excess you may have in your life and/or force you to think about how others survive with what they have and how you might change your lifestyle to help others. After living the 7 experiment, you can't help but thing of "things" differently.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
By the time I was half-way through the second chapter, I had already ordered 3 more books for my friends and family to read. This struck a cord in me, a sense of ingratitude that I couldn't shake...still can't. Even if a person just improved on one of these areas in their life, they and their community, would be the better for it. Great job, Jen!
mhrussell More than 1 year ago
I was asked to join a handful of women to go through 7 beginning in September. I had no expectations but was left more than a little bewildered after our introductory meeting in June. I just finished the book and my world has certainly been turned upside down. I work at a mega church much like the ones Jen describes and cannot shake the eerie notion that Jen is right ... if members of the early church walked in to our doors they would be totally bewildered and think God's word must have really been altered since they read it. Looking forward to meeting with my group tomorrow night to discuss. As far as wearing only 7 articles of clothing in September ... that I'm not looking forward to as much, ha!
JonJor More than 1 year ago
For me, time is of the essence - so if I'm going to read a book, I prefer that it is non-fiction and ultimately enriches my life somehow. This book is that and so much more. Recommended as an excellent book by one of our pastor's wives whom I respect very much, I purchased two copies - one for me and one for my sister who reads even less than I do. We each devoured our own copy, reading slowly, allowing it to marinate in our minds. Coming together on our lunch hour, excitedly sharing our thoughts, ideas and reactions...and ultimately our convictions, we are determined to follow in Jen's footsteps, who definitely appears to be following in God's.
RLyons More than 1 year ago
Another great book by Jen Hatmaker! She challenges you, but in a humble way, sharing her own struggles & difficulties, all while making you laugh hysterically!
ErinKv More than 1 year ago
A friend asked some friends to read this book to discuss. I am an avid reader and decided to check it out. I was a little skeptical reading the summary but the book truly changed my perspective on my Christian walk. We are not called to continue to bless the blessed. We are called to those less fortunate. To the unlovely. To the lost. I am using this book as a discussion point in a new women's group I am starting to help women find their calling. Where does God want you to be?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My biggest concern in this book is some of the sources that Jen has used in a couple of chapters. In the chapter on waste Jen uses a source names Rosemary Radford Ruether. Look her up on Wikipedia and see all of her accomplishments and what she believes. She is a feminist and an new age earth lover who believes that all creatures, plants, animals insects have a soul. Jen must like Ruether because almost all of page 116,119 and the bottom paragraph of 120 is all her writings. Most of it is word for word form Ruethers work. Jens book is covered with a social gospel message which believe if we as humans try hard enough, we can fix the worlds problems. The problems of the world are all symptions. The root cause is sin. The last thing I will comment on is the last chapter of the book titled Stress. This chapter is another thinly veiled guide to pagan practices. The source for The Seven sacred pauses is Macrina Wiederkehr. Please look her up, she has a website that is full of religious pluralism, that many religious belief systems are equal, valid and acceptable. I encourage anyone wanting to use this book to please review the sources. I would not recommend this book to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's sounds cliche but this book was life transforming for me. In the best possible way. Not only did this book make me laugh all the way through, but it made me take a closer look at so many things that have become so 'normal' in my day-to-day life. She makes you really give thought to the excess in every area of our lives, but in a way that will make you feel enlightened, encouraged, empowered to change what you'd like to, and always does it with scripture and the most wonderful kindness with people at the heart. Her writing makes me want to be a better person.
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Jak3088 More than 1 year ago
This book has changed the way I view things in my life. I have already gone through and started to donate things to the homeless and I'm making more room for God. I think Jen is supper funny and I totally can relate to her feelings on a lot of things. What an amazing ready. You will cry, laugh and feel goosebumps as you feel God working on you while you read this.
katelyndoodle More than 1 year ago
An eye opener to say the least. 
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love her writing style. Makes one think about how spoiled Americans really are. Makes one think about how grateful we should be for what we have. And, how giving we should be as a people of excess.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She came across as way too superficial and materialistic for me to even finish this book. I gave it some time, hoping it would get better, but by Chapter 6, I gave up. She's incredibly boastful and repetitious in her book. Hatmaker most certainly did not behave as a woman of God.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this would be a good book about clearing out my stuff. Hatmaker instead taught me some serious lessons about how little I really need to be happy and how important it is to really love your neighbor. She is super funny, too! Love the book.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jen Hatmaker is such a "real" person! Her books always make me think . . . do I do that? Am I like that? Her faith inspires me to try harder and relax more. I loved 7. I loved how she was honest with how each month went: seven items of clothing and forgetting to pick a coat in winter, eating chicken for a month, how her kids and her husband felt about giving up technology . . . 7 sounded so drastic when I first read about it, but as I read each month, I kept thinking, I could do this! I could learn to live with less and it would be good for me to get the "stuff" out of the way so I can listen more. I loved how she backed up each month of 7 with facts on consumerism, hunger issues, poverty facts. It was thought provoking and really made me exam how my family and I live our lives. Are we caught up in the "isms"? Do we perpetuate the problem? Could one person or one family make a difference? I think that is the whole point that Jen was getting at. By changing her lifestyle, she changed the lives of those around her. Now her book is out there making the rest of us think? I know because I read 7, I stop and think before I spend money on something, before I throw stuff out, before I shop in the grocery stores . . . is the best choice I can make for my family? For myself? If you feel you need to make a change and get rid of the stuff in your life. If you need to listen to God more or even just listen to your family more? If you need to get your family to listen . . . 7 is the book you should read!