Many of you know that this past year has been one filled with a lot of change. And for someone who tries to shy away from change at all cost, it has certainly been an ongoing process of learning how to accept and even embrace it. I am firm believer that we cannot qualify and quantify change. Change is change in whatever form it takes. Moving to a new city. Losing a job or starting another. Having a child or going back to school. Getting married. Ending a relationship or starting to date. For some what may feel invigorating and exciting for others feels overwhelming and downright frightening. It doesn’t help to compare and size up whose change is bigger or harder. I have learned sometimes it’s just better to acknowledge it for what it is: Change.
I recently finished Shauna Niequist’s new book Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace and Learning the Hard Way. With an honesty and vulnerability that is rare to find, she shares how struggle, pain and dark places can lead to something beautiful. Shauna doesn’t give cliche answers or simplistic solutions. Instead she writes about stories and people and the process that we must go through to begin to see how “loss and emptiness and confusion often give way to new fullness and wisdom.”
When I was in college (at the same place where Shauna studied) one of my favorite English professors always asked us at the start of class, “Ok, what’s the gift from this text?” The gift of Bittersweet is that Shauna names what for many of us is so hard to name. She gives faces and stories to describe the feelings, the situations, and the things that seem hardest to admit.
This is one of my favorite passages as she reflects honestly on her longing to become pregnant and the process of waiting:“I know that most of us are longing for something…I know people who are longing to marry, who are longing to be healed from disease, longing for their children to come home, longing for the financial pressure to release. I get that longing is part of how we live…. “That’s why its hard, I think, to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. I love that line from the Bible, but it’s so incredibly difficult sometimes, because when you’ve got reason to rejoice, you forget what it’s like to mourn, even if you swear you never will….[so] I’ll celebrate with my friends. I’ll hold their babies, buy baby gifts, ask them what’s it’s like for them and really listen to the answer. I’ll do it because it’s the right thing to do, and because I can’t ask them to mourn with me unless I’m willing to celebrate with them, as deeply painful as it is on some days. And my friends have done it for me, certainly; they stood in my wedding when they wanted to be brides, brought shower gifts when they wanted to be mothers. No one is exempt from the longing, and now, it seems, it’s my turn.”
Throughout Bittersweet Shauna creatively weaves in spices and flavors and colors that season every essay and remind us that life is meant to be tasted and savored, even when it is hard. She does not promise us some sugar coated recipe for life, but rather a beautiful description how we need both: the sweet and the bitter in order to grow.
FREE copy of Bittersweet
I consider finding free things to be one of my hobbies. And now you get to benefit because you have the chance to get a FREE copy of Bittersweet. Here’s how it works:
1) Leave a comment on this post about a change in your life that was either bitter or sweet, or maybe both.
2) Then I will chose one winner and email you to get your mailing address.
3) Shauna’s publisher will send you a FREE signed copy of the book. Not a bad deal, huh? : ) You have until midnight on Wednesday, November 10th.
(you can find out more about this wonderful author and her upcoming events at her blog: http://www.shaunaniequist.com/