Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Life Will Always Be Bittersweet.

I went to school in Grand Rapids, Michigan and while I was there I attended Rob Bell's church in the city. It was a great church. I didn't really get involved because I was so over-booked with school and music, but I enjoyed the services and love love loved the worship. At the time, Aaron Niequist was the worship leader. He led from piano and was anointed for sure. His heart for the church was so evident and his music communicated that. 

Anyways, my friend Tommee knew him and he had recently discovered that Aaron's wife was writing a book. He printed out a copy for me and it was love at first read. In a weird way, I related with nearly everything Shauna wrote about. Not necessarily the circumstances [although the similarities in those were a bit eery as well] but more in her emotional journey that she went on. Plus, we have the same favorite breakfast place in the golden city of GR. 

Insecure yet funny and out going. Yup. 
Loves food. Yup. 
Had self-image issues. That's me. 
A hopeless romantic. ME?! 
English major. Almost. 
Broken. For sure. 
Humbled. Most definitely. 
Struggling to find security and trust in God. It's my daily routine. 

I devoured that book in three days. And have read it several times over. 

So needless to say, when she was getting ready to release her second book, Bittersweet, I was out of my mind excited. I knew this one was going to be good too, but with the title Bittersweet, I didn't know which direction she was going to take things. But after I read it I closed it, laid it on my coffee table and wept. This woman had gone through normal distressing life circumstances and came out on top. But that's not what shocked me. What shocked me was her honesty and authenticity through the whole thing. 

She never once pretended that she fully trusted God. She confesses that she doubted. She was angry. She was so heartbroken that she had a hard time getting in and out of bed. 

I think we've all been there.

But what caused me to cry was that she speaks what most of us feel but are too afraid to actually say out loud because that would make them real. 

She says this in her prologue:

"Christians, generally, aren't great at lament and mourning. Jews are really better at lament, maybe because they've had more practice. My favorite part of a Jewish wedding is the breaking of the glass. Like most Jewish traditions, there are a whole bunch of interpretations: some say that all the shards of broken glass suggest loads of future children and future happiness. Some say that the breaking of the glass references the irreversible nature of marriage: in the same way that the glass can never be put back together after it's been broken, two people can never be separated once they've been connected by marriage. But my favorite interpretation is the one where the wine in the glass is a symbol for all of life, and when the bride and groom drink it, they accept both the bitter and the sweet aspects of life. They accept that sometimes they'll celebrate and sometimes they'll mourn, in the same way that sometimes they'll drink wine and sometimes glasses will shatter.

This collection is an ode to all things bittersweet, to life at the edges, a love letter to what change can do in us. This is what I've come to believe about change: it's good, in the way that childbirth is good, and heartbreak is good, and failure is good. By that I mean that it's incredibly painful, exponentially more so if you fight it, and also that it has the potential to open you up, to open life up, to deliver you right into the palm of God's hand, which is where you wanted to be all along, except that you were too busy pushing and pulling your life into exactly what you thought it should be. So this is the work I'm doing now, and the work I invite you int when life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow." {excerpt from book}

So thank you Shauna, for speaking the truth and allowing your faith to shine through it. It inspires me to be real, to not pretend to be who I think other people want me to be. But admit my struggles and fears and bad days. To squash that voice that swears I will never be good enough or strong enough or trusting enough. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being human. 

This is a must read for everyone. A must read. [If you're a writer, you will fall in love with her writing style.] And because I liked the book so much, I'm going to give one away! 

[Or if you wanna buy, buy it on Amazon Affiliates here or on the bottom left side-bar. This means if you click through to Amazon from JM, any purchase you make supports this site.]

Easy peasy: just post a {comment} on this post. It can be about anything. No prompt :) Winner will be chosen next Wednesday night


[You can buy her book on Amazon or get the audio version on iTunes. Just search "Bittersweet Shauna.]

[She speaks too! Check out her stuff here]. 


Channing B said...

If I don't win I am going to pick one up for myself, my mom and Laura. I trust your judgement :)

JoAnna Schultz said...

Ditto what Channing said :)

Leigh said...

I loved this book! Wouldn't mind winning a copy to pass on, as I feel everyone would benefit from reading it.

Catherine VP said...

I found out about this on Shauna's FB. I am boring the book now from a friend and it has been such a blessing to read it in a bittersweet time in my life. I would love a copy of my own to highlight and keep. Great review as well. There is something about her that I so relatable to everyone who reads her books.

kikicooley said...

am loving this book. my best friend and i read one chapter at a time together...we love it!

Vivi said...

I haven't read this one, but I read cold tangerines and almost every chapter had me in tears lol. I was glad I had found a christian author that was so honest, I could relate to her.


Chelsie B. said...

mmmm... i love good books! especially one that get to your core being & help you realize who you are! I def think I will read this one!

The Skinny on Getting Thinny said...

oh i am a huge reader right now! I would love to own this puppy:)

Julissa said...

i really thought you were giving a puppy away blonde! :)

aly3kids said...

This looks like a really good book, and is probably full of stuff I need to hear :).

aly3kids said...

I was just coming back to ask if she had a blog, and saw that you very sweetly linked to it in your post. Thanks :)

Emily said...

Niequist is an author that I have been meaning to read for a long time. I had multiple friends recommend Cold Tangerines to me throughout college, but being so busy I never got the opportunity... I am still fully intending to read Cold Tangerines in the near future, but this book sounds as though it would have a good impact for me and remind me of a lot that I need to keep in mind, especially with all that has happened over the past year...

- Emily Jones

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