The tagline of Jen Hatmaker’s newest book reads: “Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards,” and this hilarious, truthful gem of a book stays true to that mission on every page.
Hatmaker’s writing voice is impossible not to love as she courageously tackles the very real identity/performance issues we women/wives/mothers face daily because of the cultural expectations we have absorbed. Reading this book was like having a coffee date with a good friend where sarcastic humor alternates with raw honesty, wise guidance, and deep encouragement.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from For the Love:
“Our generation is so hamstrung with striving and guilt, we no longer recognize God’s good and perfect gifts staring us in the face. What a tragedy. What a loss. We will never get these lovely years back…Wise women know what to hold onto and what to release, and how to walk confidently in their choices- no regrets, no apologies, no guilt. I deeply believe God wants this freedom for us…to live presently and joyfully…” (9).
“We should not cushion every blow. This is life. Learning to deal with struggle…is crucial. A good parent prepares the child for the path, not the path for the child. We can still demonstrate gentle and attached parenting without raising children who melt on a warm day” (66).
“Dear Kids…We so deeply want you to be tender toward people. Empathizing is key to a whole hearted life. I pray for your kindness more than your success, because the latter without the former is a tragedy” (71).
“Sure, I planned on being a Darling Lamb Wife, but I accidentally got a fiery personality and forgot to be darling. Plus, I married a man with strong opinions about every solitary thing in the entire universe, past and present…We learned our lessons in the trenches of compromise” (78).
“Our souls ache for real people in real homes with real kids and real lives. We may carefully curate online identities with well-chosen pictures and selective information, but doing so leaves us starving for something true. I seek only friends who bleed and sweat and laugh and cry. Don’t fear your humanity; it is your best offering” (118).
I could go on and on because the entire book is so full of life-giving quotes like this, but lest you think I was making the ‘hilarious’ part up, here is a snapshot of one of her “Thank You Notes” sections…
I learned pretty quickly I could not read this book in public. Alternating irrepressible laughter and eyes brimming over with truth-bomb tears while sipping a chai latte will earn you some “you should probably be committed” looks (true story). While this book addresses many things: spirituality in a performance driven world, motherhood, marriage, friendship, cooking, career standards, general expectations of femininity, Hatmaker writes in her introduction that her dream for the book is ultimately that each reader will “close the last page and breathe an enormous sigh of relief…[and] laugh out loud because you just got free” (xv). After finishing For the Love, I’d say every page of the book hit that mark.