When is Enough, Enough?

Have you ever read a book that you felt had the potential to transform your life?  I'm reading 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess written by Jen Hatmaker and feel overwhelmed.  I heard about the book from a blog post by Money Saving Mom in February and had to wait this long until it was available from the library.  The title was what piqued my interest.

How do I even begin to describe this book?  You are laughing so hard you can't breath while reading one paragraph and then you have tears flowing while reading the next paragraph.  The premise?  We have too much.  Too much of everything.  But we're still not happy.  And half of the world lives on less than $2 a day.

Upset by the rampant consumerism, greed and ungratefulness in western culture and in her own life, Hatmaker decided to implement a social experiment and pare down the excesses in her life.  After six months of prayer she developed a list of seven areas in her life that needed examination:

  • food
  • clothes
  • possessions
  • media
  • waste
  • spending
  • stress 

She would live the 7 principal in one of her chosen areas for a month, take off two weeks, start into the next area for a month and so on until she had lived with less in each of her seven areas of excess.

During food month, she just eats seven types of food.  Her list doesn't include coffee and believe me, this woman needs her coffee.   Clothes month leaves her with seven pieces of clothes to rotate through for a month (sock and underwear are freebies and she can alternate between two pairs of shoes - but they count as one of her seven clothes).  This happens the month Austin, Texas gets a rare snowfall and a coat isn't on her list.

For her month of fewer possessions, her goal is to get rid of seven things a day so at month's end there would be 210 fewer things in her home.  She started out the month by sorting through her clothes and after living through clothes month previously, Hatmaker realized she just had too many garments she never wore.

By Day 2 of possessions month she had already gathered 202 things to give away or throw out.  She and her council of advisers revamped the plan and by month's end, she had purged her home of over 1,000 items.  She was sickened that she had spent so much on what wasn't needed or used.

The month of media meant a ban on:

  • TV
  • Gaming
  • Facebook/Twitter
  • iPhone apps
  • Radio
  • Texting
  • Internet
Necessary texting for genuine communication and internet use for work were allowed.  Do you know what Hatmaker discovered?  She had more time to play with her kids, visit neighbors, hear God's voice and so much more.

I haven't gotten as far as waste, spending and stress yet.  This is a book to be read in small bits or somehow the message is lost.  But Hatmaker is profoundly funny, profoundly honest and profoundly real.  She doesn't sugar coat her weaknesses and failures as she tries to live a life of less.  

Hatmaker writes about what I've thought about for several years.  I have so much, we have so much of everything.  How can we look at ourselves in the mirror when  so many of our fellow citizens of the world have nothing?  How can we justify buying another ________ (fill in the blank yourself) when we can't even fit what we own in our homes and have to rent storage space?

How can I call myself a Christ-follower, pick up my cross and follow him if I'm hanging on so tightly to my stuff?  How can I attend church filled with people who also have more stuff than they know what to do with, but give back so little of that stuff and so little of themselves?

You can't read a book like this, put it down and say, "Well that was a good book," and go on living the way you've been living.  That's what I mean by saying this book has the potential to change my life.  I don't know how yet, but I'm not sure I can keep living the Christian life I have been living and ignore the needs of people around the globe, in my country and even in my neighborhood.


  1. wow, what an interesting book. I can imagine some of it must be hard to read, bet it was hard for her to write.
    I too have looked at things around the house and thought we have too much, but then we still manage to go and buy something else!
    Might have to look for this book and read myself sometime

    1. It is a hard book to read and very convicting. For as much as I am into simple living, I still have too much of everything.

  2. You're the second person I've known to talk about this book. I'm going to read it. I love the idea of simplifying, so I think I will love it. I agree, we have so much...TOOOOOO much! Thank you for your thoughts on this book.

    1. I hope you'll let me know what you think of it. I keep reading bits of it to my family because I'm so excited about the concepts.

  3. I want to read this book, too. Thanks for recommending it! I'm always trying to find ways to downsize, though I don't want to give up the stuff that I really like. ;)

    1. I hope you read it. You'll be amused and inspired by Jan Hatmaker.

  4. wow, great post. thanks for the recommendation, I will be looking for that book soon!!!