Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist

genre: memoir/Christian/non-fiction

Truth: there is going to be good and there is going to be hard.  No matter what.  No one can get away with avoiding that juxtaposition.  The idea of life being bittersweet is at the heart of this book of essays.  Shauna takes snippets and experiences from her life and uses them as a springboard to encourage her readers to look for ways to bring their lives in harmony with both God's will and the specific things that will bring them true happiness.

I feel somehow disappointed in myself for not loving this more.  I did highlight a lot of quotes - I DO think she has a lovely writing style and a lot of what she had to say rang very true to me.  But, somehow, by reading so much about her life, I found myself feeling like mine was missing something.  This is exactly what she warns us against, of course, but yet, somehow her enormous, world-wide circle of very close friends that are always somehow managing to be together and eat together and commune together made me feel like my own circle is too small somehow, not nurturing enough or flavorful enough.  It may be that she is still more than ten years younger than me - she has only one child and he's just turned three.  I remember those years of my life as being very full of people too - but this stage of my life, with teens and pre-teens and toddlers, is very different.  Sometimes unmanageable and sometimes unthinkably lonely. And reading her advice just made me feel even more like I'm not doing enough.  That isn't fair to her, probably, but that's my reality.  I wanted her to be older than me - in the stage of life I'll get to next - and THEN tell me these things.  I needed her to have more life experience to base her conclusions on - maybe that's it.  

So, the book itself is full of good but because of where I'm at, I wasn't able to let it DO as much good as it could have.  Even with her heartache (which sometimes she is specific about sometimes she is incredibly and frustratingly vague about) I just didn't feel connected enough with her life that I felt like I could do what she was asking me to all the time.  I think really at the crux of it is that I see a lot of myself in her - her zest for life, her desire to have it all and DO it all and BE in all - and I just know how the years from 25-35 changed me.  I'd love to hear what she has to say with some more hard under her belt.  I keep feeling like this isn't a fair reason to not connect with a book, but I can't change it myself, so there you go.

I'll finish it with a quote I really did like: "And that's the core of prayer: admitting that just maybe, there's something going on that we can't see.  So when I'm afraid, I pray, and I ask for God's help, that I will be able to see something I wasn't able to see before, or at least trust him to do the seeing."

Oh, and another one, one that REALLY rang true: "Sometimes we have to leave home in order to find out what we left there, and why it matters to much."

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