I was pleased to see Niequist focus on the duality of life often overlooked in our American Christian sub-culture; the bitter and the sweet.
“Bittersweet is the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul. Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands. Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity.” –Page 11, Bittersweet
Many times Christian books give a quick wink and nod to struggles. “Pray harder! Pray more! Rejoice always! Busy yourself with Christian activities!” While all these things (i.e. praise and prayer and involvement in a local community of believers) are important, they don’t always allow needed space for a person to sit in the mess. God doesn’t promise that if we follow a strict check-list we won’t hurt. Suffering can be wasted because people are trying to get over and through trials quickly.
Shauna is brave. She writes about the underbelly of her life; the bottom falling out of a perfect job, infertility, rejection, struggle with weight, miscarriage. Instead of scurrying around like a hamster trying to feel better in the midst of pain, she slowed down and tried to learn the lessons God had for her. It was refreshing to read about the purpose and importance of struggles.
“The question is not, will my life be easy or will my heart break? But rather, when my heart breaks, will I choose to grow? – Page 233, Bittersweet
There are truthful nuggets like this throughout the book. Once in a while I wanted Shauna to dig a bit deeper and to explore a certain thought or idea more. Overall, though, I enjoyed Bittersweet. It’s the kind of book Christians need. It’s the kind of book I want to read. It’s the type of honesty I want to write.
Need a last minute Christmas gift for a friend? I recommend you check out Bittersweet.
In that vein, Pocket Lint is having its first giveaway! Yay! Want to play and get a chance to win a signed copy of Bittersweet from Shauna?
Here’s what you need to do:
- Leave a comment telling me about a bittersweet moment you experienced.
- For additional entries, leave a separate comment for any of the following: Subscribe to this blog, join my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter (@gillianmarchenko).
I’ll announce a winner next week!
Shauna Niequist is the author of Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life. Her second book, Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way, was released last summer. She lives outside Chicago with her husband Aaron and their son Henry. She studied English and French literature at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, and worked at Willow Creek for five years and at Mars Hill in Grand Rapids for three years. Shauna loves to travel, eat, read and host dinner parties.
Thank you Shauna, for the lovely book!