Brooding On

You'll Never Look at Trash Bags the Same Way Again

A few months back, I read Jen Hatmaker's Interrupted:  An Adventure in Relearning the Essentials of Faith.  You may know Hatmaker from her HGTV series My Big Family Renovation  or her popular book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess or even from FaceBook where she posts honest and refreshing tidbits (my favorites of which are the ones about the trials of parenting).  While 7 is still my favorite of her books, this one was pretty great, too, and I thought I'd share with you a couple of the things I marked during my reading.  

First, there's this:

"We [Americans] spend more annually on trash bags than nearly half the world spends on all goods combined."

Well, that's sobering.  

This book chronicles the Hatmaker family's journey as they responded to God's call to minister to the "least of these."  Once she'd begun to answer the call to minister to the needy, she writes this. . . 

"To say we were awkward and weird would be a kind understatement.  Because my experience with poor people was limited, I placed the emphasis on poor but misunderstood the essential part: people.  Which is the polar opposite perspective.  When they were 'poor' to me, then I was the benevolent, hyperfriendly white girl who had a hard time entering into a real conversation.  The emphasis was on what I was offering:  food, gloves, water, a bus pass.  What I saw in them was need, so that is what I addressed.  You require something; I'm here to deliver it.

"This is an okay place to start, but here is where that 'Jesus did it for me' thing came in.  I started noticing not so much their need but their humanity.  I realized these were daddies and sisters and lost sons and daughters.  They had stories and dreams.  Their wallets were full of pictures, and their histories were full of heartache.  They were funny and wildly talented (Johnny the Bucket Drummer played at our new church once; he brought down the house).

"We looked each other in the eyes, and we were the same.  Fragile humans who are patterned after Jesus, which makes us all beautiful.  We're all poor; I just have more stuff.  My affection for them became my offering, far more important than the  food or clean socks I brought.  A hot meal can't hold a candle to a real friend.  Jesus ignited a love for the least in me that burned white hot, a growing inferno out of a tiny spark He'd started earlier.  

"So as I was beginning to identify with the least -- and Jesus already said He was the least -- I was perhaps starting to commune with Christ in earnest for the first time in my life.  It was a party at the bottom.  Sorry I was so late.  I got lost."

I just love that.