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At (in)courage, we empower women to be like Jesus. Our writers share what’s going on in their life and how God’s right in the middle of it. They bring their joys & struggles so that you can feel less alone and be empowered by the hope Jesus gives.

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  1. Wow, love the wonderful, rich discussion in these videos. Such great insights and so fun to watch.
    I’m going to say something that I’m not sure anyone else will relate/admit to. I found the last two chapters really hard. I actually paused this video and went to my wardrobe to start purging items of clothing. And I couldn’t do it.
    Having recovered (still recovering!) from an eating disorder I realised that every item in there was tied to a poignant and often painful memory. Of trying THAT pair of pants on in a fitting room and crying because I needed that tiny size. Of putting THAT shirt on while recovering and crying again because it didn’t fit anymore. I felt shaky and panicked just looking at and touching all these clothes that I don’t/can’t even wear anymore. I had to shut the wardrobe and walk away.
    I can’t let these things go. I need to let them go. I need to pass these clothes on to someone who needs them. And I need to let go of a person I no longer am. (Thank God!)
    Would it be weird and presumptuous of me to ask that you pray for me as I start this process? I don’t want to be stuck here anymore. I want my heart to be for others. I’m praying for ‘less of me and my junk (both physical and emotional!) and more of Jesus and his kingdom’.
    Maybe some of you are in this stuck place too? If so, know that I’m praying for you as well.

    • Oh Adele, reading your post early this morning, brought tears to my eyes. So glad you are no longer that person. I sympathize with you over the pain that you have gone through over this. “In all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” Romans 8:39 – Praying that God’s love and guidance will surround you the moment doubt, fear, anxiety creep up and you will know all is well in your soul…

    • I’ll be praying for you, sweet Adele! A friend recently prayed for me over something that I’m going through and she thanked God for the pain and the grief I felt and at first I thought she was crazy, but then I realized that the pain and the grief meant that God was getting to do His business of cleaning up! As you’re looking at those clothes and those things and those memories, I’m praying that He uses the hurt and anxiety for His glory!

      • Thank you Patricia, Krista and Jan, I appreciate your insights and prayers so much and I’ve re-read these comments many times. I can feel myself getting braver about this, getting ready to let God do some more work in me. Thank you all. Much love.

    • Adele,

      Praying God softens your heart and heals old wounds. May you feel His peace surround you softening your heart to forgive yourself!

    • Adele,
      Someone once told me that if you take a picture of the item that you have a memory connected with, that will make it easier to give away. At first, I thought, oh please, a picture cannot replace the actual item. But the more I think about it, the memory itself is a picture in our mind. I’m going to give this a try because I think that the more physical stuff we have taking up space in our house, the more that it also takes up space (and time) in our minds and I want my mind more focused on the Lord.

  2. Adele,

    I am completely praying for your brokenness and healing process with God. It broke my heart reading your story and I think we can all resonate a little bit with tying memories to our stuff. Whether it’s the shoes in which the baby took his first steps, the doll passed on from a dead grandmother, the wedding dress we just had to have, or the first table we purchased together as a married couple. Stuff will always have memories tied to it. Why do you think the disciples and Mary went to the tomb? That was the last place they saw their Savior and all that He has accomplished.

    Thankfully that same Savior can release the bondage on our stuff. Bondage from memories too fresh and raw and still healing to be moved into action. But maybe in those actions, dropping them off at a shelter, a rehab place for eating disorders, or those less fortunate will release some pain for you, too. Because you can share your story and how Jesus brought you out of it. It’s is powerful stuff.

    • Thank you Jennifer, for your empathy, your wise suggestions and your prayers. I needed this reminder of the bondage I have already been released from – I know God won’t stop there! Thank you xo

  3. I struggle with the memory that is tied to the item. Some items easier to think of giving away, but like Jennifer said above, my grandmother’s table, the blanket my mom knit for me in the year she passed, how do you give these up? This is going to be tough, but my heart is ready and willing to try. I know right off the bat many things that are in storage as well as items laying around that I can round up. I love that Jen talked about asking God to help with finding people who really needed this stuff. The connection we can make directly will have so much more of an impact. Enjoying this book so much..Am going to buy more copies to give away. I already have on my kindle and a hardcopy, but am going to pass on the hardcopy to have circulated around “my little council” as soon as the bookstudy is over. I’m quilty, because you see I haven’t totally surrendered, or else I’d give up this book right away and only use the kindle version for this study. But I just want to feel the book in my hands when following along with you three ~

    • I struggle with the memories, too. I have a coffee table and end table I’m not going to ever need/use again in my storage unit and when I move I’m going to sell them, and I’m really struggling with that because I bought them from a friend whose ex-husband owned them. Even though they were divorced, they remained good friends until he died. She was so happy when I took them because they were going to someone who knew him. Talk about memory! And guilt! Haha.

  4. Loved this chapter… love the book…love that my heart is softening and is willing to be willing to give more and hoard less. 🙂 Can’t wait to see what the next chapters will hold!

  5. How big is the gap in my home between need and want? REALLY REALLY HUGE. Seriously, though. I moved out of my expensive, stuff-filled apartment (not realizing how full it was until I began packing) in April to live with friends for a few months to save up some money and to downsize my life. I am paying them almost $1000 LESS in rent than I paid for my apartment and yet somehow… five months later, what I have to show for it is a bunch of STUFF. What really struck me as I was packing was the sheer number of books that I have. I rarely think about those as bad things. I mean, yeah, I have clothes and shoes and gadgets all stowed away in my expensive storage unit, waiting until I move again in a few weeks, but the reality is, those books that I hold so dear are just stuff. People have said, “Well, you’ve read the book; give it away!” and I look at them like they are CRA-ZAY. Those are my precious beings! But I buy them compulsively. If I just bought them and read them, then it wouldn’t be such a big deal, but I have hundreds of dollars of books on my shelves waiting to be read. Craziness!

    Living in a small room with limited space for five months has made me realize how much stuff I really do have, and not all of it’s out of need. Seven iPhone cables to connect to my computer that I keep buying because I keep losing them, only to find them later? Yes, I have that. Four tubes of chaptick/containers of lip balm on my nightstand? Yes, we can check that very important item off the list. Twelve kinds of hair product, ten of which I have only used once, most of which cost close to what I make per hour at work, under my sink at home? Yes ma’am, add that to the list. I’m getting ready to move again in about a month and the thought of taking all of that STUFF with me just makes me cringe. I want to get rid of it. So sale in my storage unit!

    • Krista,
      I’m so there with you on having the abundance of books all around me. I meant to write that on my earlier post that I actually have an obsession with them. Whenever a new title comes out that catches my attention, I either buy it for my ereader, or grab it hardcopy…I have numerous books, that I have only opened the front cover and that’s it. They sit on a shelf for the day I grab and dive in. Have many books that I do not want to part with..Feel so attached because they spoke to me at one point and I got so much from them. I’m feeling the CRA-ZINESS just like you….Oh the money I’ve spent on books is terrifying even to think about.

      • So right on, Patricia. And it’s so easy to justify that one… which makes me think if I’m justifying the purchase of books, what else am I working on getting and owning in my life that I could live without? What do I have that’s just sitting around, collecting dust and doing nothing but stressing me out in my life?!

  6. In the last couple of years, I have realized that the more I buy, the more my house is crowded, my kids don’t appreciate it, and even I don’t appreciate it! I’ve slowly gotten away from retail therapy. But even with this mindset, I still have a lot of junk in the house! How does that happen? I find that relatives buy my kids way too much gifts for holidays etc. That is the next thing I need to work on. Any advice on saying to relatives that kids don’t always appreciate presents as much as time spent with them? {Sigh.}
    I still gleaned a lot from this chapter and really liked the idea of finding where to give my items to, not just the local Goodwill store. That was fantastic advice!

    • Nicole – this was a hard one for us. We have very generous Parents and we didn’t want to sound ungrateful. But we’ve slowly transitioned our Parents into buying experiences rather than things. They graciously give tickets to an event, passes to an amusement park, etc. We still allow one small gift (lego set, etc.) for each child to open, but if they insist on a certain dollar amount or larger gift, we ask for these other options. It’s worked wonders and the kids get so much enjoyment from the gift, long after the toys are played with and discarded.

  7. So wow, this chapter challenged me. In the past few months, I’ve struggled with a spirit of discontentment. I guess I was just feeling sorry for myself. It seems like everyone else has so much more than us…At least, that’s what I thought before I read 7. Then I looked at our house. And our stuff. And we have a lot. Sure, it might not be as much as our neighbors. But ya know, it’s a lot more than most people in the world. Such a wake up call. Thank you!!

  8. This chapter probably hit home with anyone who has grown up in the United States of America, including me. I have such a love/hate relationship with our culture of consumerism. Clearly I love it (even though I wouldn’t say that out loud) because my actions and my shopping habits tell me so. But I hate the fact that a lot of my brain space is consumed with what I want to buy or what I can’t buy. Last August I went to a conference that had some awesome workshops on DIY projects, home decor, turning trash into treasure, etc. I came home with a lot of great ideas but the problem was I wanted to fill every corner of my house with a cute accessory and hang a picture on every wall. Even though I didn’t necessarily ‘act’ on all the plans that I had to make my house beautiful, in my head it had gotten out of control. So I stopped. I had to stop. I stopped buying stuff, I stopped going to Homegoods and Goodwill every week, and I stopped trying to make my house look ‘perfect’. I’m doing my best to be content with the stuff we already have and get rid of the stuff we don’t need. It’s a tough process but I am determined to win. My stuff will not own me.

    On Friday I will be posting a link to a blog I wrote about this whole process and the conclusions I came to.

  9. I feel like Shel Silverstein: “If you are a dreamer,come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hoper, a prayer, a magic-bean-buyer. If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire, for we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!” This is such a worthy discussion, and I’m so grateful to be having it with such amazing sisters. Don’t be afraid here…come in. The end goal is not shame but liberation. FREEDOM! (and now I’m William Wallace.) XOXO

  10. My family of 5 recently moved into an apartment and moved 2/3’s of our things into storage. We have spent the last 4 months in less square footage and have been shockingly JUST FINE without all of our stuff. It’s been disturbing. I even forgot what all I have. I am pretty sure I have some cool stuff – but who knows anymore – and who really cares! I feel so convicted to just let it all go as we prepare to move into our new home (which I am feeling pretty unsettled about too… thanks to @JenHatmaker & @Jesus).

    I am pretty sure I will just fill it with new stuff. It’s a terrible compulsion to fill empty space, isn’t it!?!? Anyone!?!?!

    I like to think that stuff isn’t a big deal to me. But it just is. And I hate it. I want to be radical for my Savior who was really radical for me. Praying that I can be sacrificial in this stuff compulsion.

    • “I even forgot what all I have.”

      THIS. Seriously, most of my stuff, minus some clothes, a few DVDs and books, and a small number of items that are important to me, are crammed in my storage unit. I thought I’d be going there all of the time and the thought now just seems exhausing.

      But I think you’ve said it perfectly — we have the compulsion to fill empty space. I remember getting a big, big apartment and worrying about what I was going to put in it. I never really thought about the fact that I could get a small apartment and be juuust fine with what was in it. Thank you for this. I’m preparing to move again and my room will be a little smaller than what I’ve got now, and the thought was stressing me out because I HAVE STUFF. Thank you for that reminder!

  11. People love to fill their homes & lives with stuff. Prior to marriage people helped me out now and then and since marriage I have been given many many items-clothing, etc. I feel so blessed that I find myself wanting to rid my house of some of these items. I also look at it as helping someone else less fortunate–like I was once.

  12. Are you a compulsive buyer of things you don’t really need? How big is the gap of things in your house that you ‘need’ and that you ‘want’? And would you be able to give these items up? Let’s discuss in the comments!
    I have been following along with the study and just now getting to post!
    I have thoroughly enjoyed these first chapters of “7”. There are so MANY challenging statements…how can I even begin t TWEET them all :0). Sad to say, media (nest week 0_0) has stolen my time as I endeavor to get into the routine of fall, school, new beginnings!
    So far, chapters 2 and 3 are ones that our family have faced, dealt with, and gave away. The journey to simplicity is hard because our “things” often hold fond memories and give us those “warm fuzzies” we like so much!
    “That was the babies first blanket…this was Grammas China cabinet…those are my books from growing up…”
    Or sometimes our stuff is our “future selves”…you know! the old “I will keep that and get to fixing, painting, decoupaging, that next week!”
    Stuff…it is such a burden. For a few years we were living sort of a simple life for all the wrong reasons. I got caught up in the belief that “simplicity”=”holiness”. If I had 5 hours to type I would not be able to explain HOW that happened…suffice it to say we are not “there” any more. BUT what we walked away with (besides some pretty sad church experiences) is that simplicity is a good thing. It frees us from the time it takes to take CARE of all our stuff. It breeds appreciation from your kids (WHAT kid needs 200 toys???), and helps keep the important things relevant.
    Don’t get me wrong! I LOVE my stuff as much as the next person…I just have less than kost is all. I KNOW aprt of that is because we have not really had a place to settle down in and call our OWN. Now that we have, I am truly working on NOT allowing things back into our lives. The house is clutter free, but certainly not sparse. The attic/basement has zero junk…not kidding :0). The yard/shed nothing we do NOT use.
    The hubby and I own maybe 15 outfits? He has 5 pairs of shoes, I have 12…and 95% of what we have is from thrift, give away, or dead relatives :0).
    THAT being said…..I am SURE you have noticed I have mot mentioned chapter 1—-or next weeks chapter—or several others coming up! :0(. STRUGGLE is not the word for those areas…I sense a slow painful death on the horizon 0_0.
    Sigh…I was happy to have 2 chapters that were easier for me….now the real “ouchy” stiff starts. I’M READY!!!! (shlumps off for some serious “Help me God” time!)

    THANKS Jen and all the ladies that are keeping this going. I am learning so much and sharing with my 2 boys still at home…the hubby…anyone who will listen but THEy are a captive audience!
    Enjoy this week ladies…

  13. Ugh. I contemplated not replying because I am too embarrassed but I’m terrible at letting to of things. It definitely is something that runs in our family and while we often laugh about it, it’s suffocating me. I turn to retail therapy quite often (with 3 toddlers, if I get a moment to myself, I run to target and get lost for hours!). I want so badly to purge my home but I get stuck on the idea of the money I spent, did I get my money’s worth, can this be used again, will the next child wear this, etc. it’s such a heavy-hearted struggle for me and always has been. I feel like this is one of the biggest aspects in my life that needs changing. There is a reason God woke me at 4 in the morning, stirred my heart and led me here to read this (ok, and to calm a crying child!). Although now I feel he need to go out and buy the book… Yikes! Thanks for listening and keeping you ladies in my prayers as you tow the road of freedom from possession.

    • Just some thoughts on the money part of it. As I was purging through my embarrassingly huge stash of makeup on Monday, I came across a few things where I definitely thought, “oh, I hate to give this up because I paid so much money for it”. Yet there it sat, barely, if ever, used. It just wasn’t right for me. (That’s a lesson about buying makeup without trying it first, but that’s another subject…) But – into the trash bag it went (I don’t feel like makeup is something you’d want to donate if it’s been used at all.)

      And that angst that I felt about the money I spent/wasted I will then use to motivate me to NOT make purchases like that in the future.

      I know I will be feeling similar emotions as I tackle my bedroom closet purge in just a few moments, that feeling of money wasted. However, I WILL be donating most of what I’m purging today and I just have decided to think of it as an investment in those people who will eventually receive and use my donations. That makes it a much happier letting go…

      Hope that helps, at least with the money aspect of it all…

  14. This is such a great book – I am a ‘texture person’..so I bought this book because I liked the cover – and then it sat on my book case looking pretty for six months! I started doing another small study and I remembered it – thought it might go along with my study…and I didnt finish the study because the book was so AWESOME!

    My husband and I are going thru FPU again…but this time as small group leaders – and I am totally recommending this book! I love everything about it and I love the weekly book reviews – hilarious! Its nice to know I am not alone!!!

  15. I have not read the book, or plan to, as time does not permit right now, but pray I can partake in this discussion. It is so apparent that God is working on the Body of Christ to slim down our worldly attachments and seek to be lean spiritually (being supportive). When my husband and I first came to the Lord we meet some Amish and Mennonites that were true believers and their simply life style effected us. We had both lost our jobs and realized when we went to sell things off, just how much stuff we had, how materialistic we were. God purged our lives and we have lived simple for the most part. I heard a lot of this growing up, “The more you own; the more it owns you. The more you own; the more you have to maintain.” As farmers, we grew up practical and functional; good jobs, prosperity blinded us when it was without Christ in our hearts. Though prosperity eludes us, it has taken on a new meaning, our spirit and soul prospers, that is the most import prosperity.

  16. This whole 7 thing couldn’t have come at a better/worse time! All of these thoughts have chased around in my brain for the last year or so and there they are in a book that someone else wrote who lived the whole thing out! I’m a total mess with all of this. We are in the process (before 7) of trying to declutter our house because I said, “WE have to much stuff!! Enough already! I’m sick up of moving it, packing it, cleaning it, storing it, etc.” and surprisingly the kids are buying in and getting rid of it…I’m a little scared to tackle the craft area, that’s gonna be my very hard bit to overcome and get it to a reasonable portion or stuff…yes you messed me up Jen Hatmaker, Lord love you…okay I won’t blame it on you, it really isn’t your fault (but you did write the book)

  17. We went to China for mission work and we purged. Now that we have been back 2 years, we have filled a house again. We can’t recover financially from leaving the country for a year, but we can fill the house? Something has to be wrong with our thinking and spending, and I am going to work hard to figure that out! I love the motivation I am getting from this book!!!

  18. We move in two weeks, so this comes at a very appropriate time. This move is an intentional downsize, both spacially and financially. But, let me be clear – our new home, albeit smaller, will offer a luxurious amount of space by the world’s standards. I know this. Still, it’s a step for us in our own mutiny. We’re getting rid of stuff like it’s got cooties and I’m loving the freedom in it. We could all cut more fluff out of our life in all the areas you explore. I would tell you how brave and inspirational I think you are, but I guess you’d probably dismiss it and laugh. Just know I’m with you and I truly want more of His Kingdom and less of my stuff (literally and figuratively). Bless you as you continue to use your gifts for Him!

  19. This was a really hard chapter for me. I could easily give away books for an entire year and still have some left over, thats what comes out of hoarding books for 20 years of my life, but when it comes to other possessions, I’m stuck.
    That’s not because I don’t want to give them away, it’s because I don’t OWN a lot that I can feasibly give away.
    Putting it bluntly, I have 1 pair of jeans left in my wardrobe (my other – more fancy pair – wore through last week) and I have 1 pair of shoes…which are worn through to the sole, holes and everything. I’m so conscious of winter coming and the wet weather we’ve been having, I have sore feet almost every single day. What Jen wrote about the pain from wearing worn out shoes is true, I’m feeling it. Shoes are expensive, and I need to have food in my kitchen. Heck, I sometimes only have enough to buy some value rice and tinned fish. Thats how serious my season has become.
    I am in awe of Jen and the Council and they’re kindness throughout their city. I’m prayerful that communities are continually blessed by acts of kindness spurred on by this beautiful book.

    • Could you sell some of your books to buys ome more jeans and shoes? Amazon will buy books off you. As a the family of God you should not be in this situation, do you have a local church who can help at all? I pray that by the end of this week your feet are warm and comfortable.

      • Hi Anna,
        Thank you for taking the time to offer some help 🙂
        I’ve tried this, most of my books are in a used condition so I can get 99p for them at best. Churches around me don’t help out like the Churches in the US, it’s a sad situation but I have faith my life will be turned around.

  20. Having just got married last year (and been getting in the habit of not collecting too much “stuff” over the past few years), my husband and I started our lives together with not much in our home. We quickly got what we needed (mostly for free), and only purchased a few things additionally (a place to store our bathroom towels, bed quilts and sheets, etc.) as there isn’t much storage space in our apartment. Even after typing out the word “storage,” I’m rethinking whether we could give away a blanket or two that we don’t use often.

    Once we, God-willing, have a house of our own (and kids), I’m sure our collection will grow… I just pray that it doesn’t become excessive, that we are always willing to give away what is beneficial and useful to the needs of others, and that we really do love Jesus and love others with our actions, hearts, and whole lives.

    This was a wonderful chapter and it’s encouraged me to be more aware and look for opportunities that we can give to meet the needs of others.

  21. I am so late to the party as usual. I have to say, this chapter was PAINFUL. 12 yrs ago I had nothing but the clothes on my back. Today, after 3 elderly relatives have passed away and bequeathed to me their household items I have 2 storage units and an apartment full of just STUFF. I am so overwhelmed with it all that I can’t even begin to think about the downsize effort and so embarrassed to let anyone I know I have all of this.
    My family had an estate sale this past weekend and I got rid of about 1/3 of stuff. That still leaves a ton.
    This is such ripe timing for me to hear about Jen and her process of ridding out the stuff that was holding her down.
    Please pray for me as I begin the process of letting go. Of letting someone or someones help me out in the purging/sorting/carrying away stuff process. I am praying for each of you, too.

  22. Does anyone else have the fear I do of I don’t need that right now, but what if I get rid of it and then can’t afford to replace it. I know God will look after us, but we live on a pretty low income so can’t just go out and buy another one. I have no problems giving away anything if someone needs it. But to just get rid and then find we need that item again but can’t have it urrrghhh. Although the flip side is that we are given sooo much and have given away soo much from cars to clothes, food parcels of “posh food” when we have struggled to buy bread and milk. I guess I have answered my own struggles in just writing this post. Oh and another thing. Is selling possessions being a better steward than giving if we are short for cash?????