My young adult group at church is embarking on a 9-week journey called The 7 Experiment: Staging Your Own Mutiny Against Excess. A book and Bible study created by Jen Hatmaker, The 7 Experiment seeks to clear away excess in seven areas of life: food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending, and stress. Ever since reading Radical by David Platt, this is something I’ve attempted and have wanted to do.
The 7 Experiment is a spiritual and practical exercise that not only looks at what the Bible says about excess but also presents options for fasts in each area. While Jen Hatmaker and her friends fasted for one month in each area, we will only spend one week per fast. I have a feeling that I may end up replicating the experiment on my own and spending more time in each area.
We don’t begin fasting until Wednesday, but the Introduction alone presents its own challenges and lessons. I am coming to terms with my own enormous privilege (did you know that if you make $35,000 a year, you are within the top 4% of wealth in the world?) and the rationalization of my own greed. Jen writes, “Excess has impaired perspective in America; we are the richest people on earth, praying to get richer.” I have room in my life for “luxuries” and inessentials like cable television and magazine subscriptions, and yet I still find myself wishing for nicer clothes and Hawaiian vacations while rarely considering myself to be “wealthy.” I recognize the tension between telling myself, “You’ve worked hard; you deserve to buy this,” and asking myself, “Do you really need another pair of shoes?”
I am hopeful about beginning this experiment, but if I am really honest, I am also scared and intimidated. I am scared to find out how much my finances, my time, and my life have been consumed by material things and greed. I am scared to discover how difficult some of these fasts will be and how difficult I find it to part with my stuff. In the book, Jen asks, “Of these seven areas, does something jump out at you? Do you relate specifically to any of these categories of excess? Why?” In the space she provides for readers to respond, I wrote, “I think clothing will be an area of embarrassing excess. I keep buying more and feel like I need more, but I already have so much. Stress, food, and media will also be huge challenges. I think I will discover addictions.” Despite the fears, I am ready to begin and see how blind I have been to the excess in my life.
Each week I hope to post a new update with my thoughts on the experiment, the experience of that week’s fast, and what God is teaching me through it all. Have you done The 7 Experiment? I would love to hear about your experience and what you learned! Also let me know if you would like to participate in The 7 Experiment with me!