To be honest, I only became interested in Shauna Niequist when she announced that she was to speak at our commencement ceremony. And even after hearing girls rant and rave about her books Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet, I still had little interest in reading them. That was probably because they were just so darn popular in my community that I just didn’t want to follow the crowd. But now living with two girls who adore her, I decided that I would read her writing. Just to be able to form my own opinions on her books. But, I decided I’d read Bittersweet first. Just to be different…
Some of it is too cheesy for me. But some of it is just right. Here’s a couple of my favorite sections so far.
“I used to think that the ability to turn back time would be the greatest possible gift, so that I could undo all the things I wish I hadn’t done. But grace is an even better gift, because it allows me to do more than just erase; it allows me to become more than I was when I did those things. It’s forgiveness without forgetting, which is much sweeter than amnesia.” –Bittersweet, p. 83
“This is the thing: when you start to hit twenty-eight or thirty, everything starts to divide, and you can see very clearly two kinds of people: on one side, people who have used their twenties to learn and grow, to find God and themselves and their deep dreams, people who know what work and what doesn’t, who have pushed through to become real live adults.
And then there’s the other kind, who are hanging on to college, or high school even, with all their might. They’ve stayed in jobs they hate because they’re too scared to get another one. They’ve stayed with men or women who are good but not great because they don’t want to be lonely. They mean to find a church, they mean to develop honest, intimate friendships, they mean to stop drinking like life is one big frat party. But they don’t do those things, so they live in kind of an extended adolescence, no closer to adulthood than they were when they graduated college.
Don’t be like that. Don’t get stuck. Move, travel, take a class, take a risk. Walk away, try something new. There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming. Don’t lose yourself at happy hour, but don’t lose yourself on the corporate ladder either.
Stop every once in a while and go out to coffee or climb in bed with your journal. Ask yourself some good questions like, Am I proud of the life I’m living? What have I tried this month? What have I learned about God this year? What parts of my childhood faith am I leaving behind, and what parts am I choosing to keep with me for this leg of the journey? Do the people I’m spending time with give me life, or make me feel small? Is there any brokenness in my life that’s keeping me from moving forward?
These years will pass much more quickly than you think they will. You will go to lots of weddings, and my advice, of course, is to dance your pants off at every single one. I hope you go to very few funerals. You’ll watch TV and run on the treadmill and go on dates, some of them great and some of them terrible. Time will pass, and all of a sudden, things will begin to feel a little more serious. You won’t be old, of course. But you will want to have some things figured out and the most important things only get figured out if you dive into them now.
For a while in my early twenties I felt like I woke up a different person every day, and was constantly confused about which one, if any, was the real me. I feel more and more like myself with each passing year, for better and for worse, and you’ll find that, too. Every year, you will trade a little of your perfect skin and your ability to look great without exercising for wisdom and peace and groundedness, and every year the trade will be worth it. I promise.
Now is your time. Become, believe, try. Walk closely with people you love, and with other people who believe that God is very good and life is a grand adventure. Don’t spend time with people who make you feel like less than you are. Don’t get stuck in the past, and don’t try to fast-forward yourself into a future you haven’t yet earned. Give today all the love and intensity and courage you can, and keep traveling honestly along life’s path.” –Bittersweet, p. 89-90