Several months ago, I opened a book that ushered a new grace into my life. Sprinkled in between some of the funniest writing I have read in ages were these deep, challenging truths that made me feel known and understood.
People crave what they have always craved: to be known and loved, to belong somewhere. (Jen Hatmaker)
Jen Hatmaker wrote a book when she typed out the words that became For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards. But she also “wrote a community” (Brianna George). The 500 launch team members have become a church of sorts. As we read the book together, women* began to give and receive grace like I think it was done in the early church–like I imagine it is done in heaven.
And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. (Acts 2:42-44)
Through a private Facebook page, hearts began to open. Women shared deep hurts, pressing questions, and the minutia of life. Instead of receiving snarky comments and judgement–the spiritual gifts that are abundant any time you get 3 or more women in the same room–we were met with grace, acceptance, and prayer.
The Launch Team became an experiment of sorts; a For the Love case study, if you will. What happens when a person becomes authentic in the midst of authentic community?
We tried to become our best selves, not the us we thought we should be.
We found grace for the people that live in our house, even when they made monumental mistakes.
We started engaging our neighbours and strangers with the Gospel. We desired better for the church, made peace with the church, and became the church.
I get a little teary eyed with a touch of lip quiver when I consider the impact of this experiment in authenticity in my own life. I have a safe place to be real, to ask hard questions, and receive grace. I have found a close-knit community of writers that cheer me and challenge me.
And I have a plane ticket to Austin, TX, courtesy of a stranger.
Jen Hatmaker has opened up her backyard in Austin to allow the Launch Team to become friends in real life. Several women had financial constraints which would keep them from attending the party. A few precious sisters formulated a plan to raise money so that lack of resources would not be a barrier. Over the course of a few weeks, Acts 2 came to life as the Launch Team provided the money and miles necessary for 25 women in need to come to Austin.
It is the most humbling thing to receive such a gift in the name of Christ. THIS is the church! It is pouring out ourselves so that all may come to know the riches of our Father. This is the body of Christ taking care of itself, giving so that no one has a need. It is a beautiful thing, this For the Love experiment.
I invite you to join our experiment. Pick up a copy of For the Love. Begin to live an authentic life. Invite others to be a part of your authentic community. Let us point each other to God and then marvel at the power of love and grace.
I have a copy of For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards to give away!
I wish I could hand them out to all of you with a hug and a blessing! Since I can’t do that, I will draw from the comments. Share a bit of authenticity, a thought on community, or simply a reason you want to read this book. Entries close at midnight, Saturday, August 22. I will select a winner Sunday, August 23.
Go, be authentic, For the Love!
*The For the Love Launch Team was made up of 496 women and 4 brave men. While my post is centered on the relationships we women developed, the men held their own in there!
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of the book mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”