I haven't ready any of Jen Hatmaker's previous books. To be honest, I haven't even really read her blog. I've probably clicked on a few links on facebook and read an article here or there, but I haven't been a regular reader.
I wanted to read For the Love, because the subtitle resonated with me: "fighting for grace in a world of impossible standards." I could completely relate to the feeling of trying to meet impossible standards, usually of my own making. I wasn't prepared for Jen's humor. I laughed my way through several of the early chapters and read them aloud to my daughters and my husband. (I'm sure they really appreciated that, since they are both absolutely not in the target audience for this book.) Although the book began with a very light-hearted approach, it got much deeper and more serious as the book progressed. I went from laughing and nodding, to just nodding and thinking -- really thinking.
Although I appreciate Jen's attempt at encouraging me to be a chef and host scrumptious dinners, I probably won't tackle the recipes she included in this book. They are really just a couple steps above my time-availability and my skill level. However, I was challenged to find a group of ladies I can find support in, and couples that my husband and I can fellowship with. We do need to reach out more and build a community of closer friendships than we have at the moment.
For the Love covers so many topics. Each chapter is almost like an essay that may or may not flow from the previous chapter. But each chapter is something worth reading, and thinking about, and figuring out how to apply in your own life. Jen strives to set women free to be themselves, and serve God in their own way within their homes and communities. For some, it may be very unofficial - just loving those God puts in their paths - and for others it may mean places of leadership within the church. Regardless of what your gifts are, or where God has placed you in this life, Jen encourages us to let go of others' expectations and our own comparisons, and just live each day freely. No judging. No comparing. No self-blame.
And when the book might be getting a little too serious. She throws in a section of "thank you note" (ala Jimmy Fallon) to lighten the mood and help us relate (to her and each other). Because the reality is that life is hard, we are all hot messes, and we just have to celebrate that sometimes.
If you've been struggling to find your role as a Christian woman in today's world, especially if you're in your 30s or 40s, then I recommend For the Love. If you're constantly beating yourself up and comparing yourself to everyone around you who obviously has it so much more together than you ... get the book! It will encourage you and lighten your load.