An Exhale for the Soul: A Review of Jen Hatmaker’s “For the Love”

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Well-known Christian speaker and best-selling author Jen Hatmaker’s newest book For the Love officially released yesterday.  I was able to read a copy before it launched, and I can honestly say her message is a gift to the Church.

A masterful combination of challenge and encouragement with plenty of humor to enliven the read, For the Love addresses how to deal with the suffocating expectations placed on us by the world, others, and ourselves.  The whole book is worth reading, but I found two chapters in particular to be especially liberating.

The opening chapter, titled “Worst Beam Ever”, exposes the enslaving pressure of trying to do it all.  Exacerbated by social media’s “carefully selected messaging”, many of us live with the nagging notion that we should be the best of the best in every possible area of life – working, parenting, housekeeping, crafting, hosting, exercising, you name it.

Hatmaker summarizes this trend’s disastrous effects: “We no longer assess our lives with any accuracy.  We have lost the ability to declare a job well-done.  We measure our performance against an invented standard and come up wanting, and it is destroying our joy.”

As a solution, she suggests deciding which tasks or commitments belong in a given season of life – out of necessity, because of passion, or as an act of obedience – and investing in them wholeheartedly.  Everything else will either have to wait until another season or should be released altogether.  When we are more selective with our time and responsibilities, we’re freed up to enjoy life instead of merely trying to survive it.

Which brings me to the second noteworthy chapter, otherwise known as “Run Your Race”.  I’ve read this chapter three times already, and I practically felt my soul exhale each go-round.  In a similar vein as the first chapter, “Run Your Race” challenges readers to assess their strengths, consider their passions, value their uniqueness, and then utilize how they were created for the glory of God and the good of the world.

My guess is that many of us need the reminder that God purposely wired each of us with unique gifts and personalities.  He’s honored, we thrive, and others benefit when we leverage our individuality to invest in things of eternal significance.

Because we believe “God created an entire package”, as Hatmaker put it, we can run in our respective lanes unapologetically and with the confidence that “nothing is wasted: not a characteristic, preference, experience, tragedy, quirk, nothing.  It is all you and it is all purposed and it can all be used for great and glorious good.”

If, like me, you’re tired of the status quo, exhausted by the pressure of trying to do it all, and wearied by comparison and competition, read For the Love.  You’ll definitely laugh, you might breathe easier, and you’ll surely be encouraged along the way.

This post is part of Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with many other inspiring bloggers.  To learn more or to join us, click here.

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