Author, podcast host, and inspirational speaker Jen Hatmaker knows the cost of standing up for what she believes in.
Once a darling of evangelical Christianity, retailer LifeWay Christian Stores pulled Hatmaker’s books from its shelves in 2016 after she expressed support for the LGBTQ community in an interview. Her popular book, “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess,” was put out of print. Her next book contract was canceled, too.
She regrouped and adjusted. Hit pieces followed. So did the nightmares. But the freedom that came with it has been worth it, according to the bestselling author and speaker. She launched an HGTV show, a book club and a podcast, reaching more than 829,000 followers on Facebook alone.
Most recently, the author and her husband divorced, and their oldest daughter publicly shared she is gay.
“The only regret I have is that I did not do this sooner,” Hatmaker said.
In her 2020 book “Fierce, Free and Full of Fire: The Guide to Being Glorious You,” released during the pandemic, she encouraged her readers to experience the same freedom she has found by living into their authentic selves, no matter what the cost.
“It is daunting for so many women to even just imagine staring down a brand-new path of truth telling. I know it,” she said. “I believe if we can trust truth to do what it has always told us it will do — which is lead us into life, which is lead us into fullness and wholeness and goodness — then whatever the cost, I promise it’s going to be worth it to pay it, and great is its reward, honestly.”
This year, she re-released the book that LifeWay Christian Bookstores originally banned, “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.” Along with the opportunity to republish the book, Hatmaker decided not to delete any of its problematic language or narrative, she said, taking particular aim at language that now reads to her as condescending. Instead, the result, newly titled “Simple & Free: 7 Experiments Against Excess,” released March 23, will not only show how she has changed, but also free readers to do the same. In the re-release, she appended the original text with bracketed notes where her thoughts 10 years ago are no longer her viewpoints – or, in other cases, what new data is available.
The concept of that book is as relevant as ever said Hatmaker: “We still live in a world of excess, and the month-long social experiments designed 10 years ago to consume less — wearing only seven items of clothing or giving away at least seven possessions each day — still hold lessons for today.”
Looking back at her career leading up to her 2016 interview, Hatmaker acknowledge that, “I was very much a darling of white evangelical women subculture. It’s a real niche, but I was succeeding there. What was so devastating at the beginning was noticing all the places that, for me, the fabric was beginning to tear. And it was in more than one way. It was being located inside a system that was still very much operating under the rules of patriarchy and misogyny — nobody would want to admit this, but white supremacy and privilege, power differentials, where it was very clear who was right and wrong; who was in, who was out; who was included, who was excluded.”
She got to the point where she said to herself, “Jen, you either get to hang on to your career as you know it or you get to hang on to your integrity, but you don’t get both. These things are now at odds. I picked my integrity, and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.”