A Time for the Bittersweet.

It's been a few days since my last post, mostly because the last two days of work brought me twice as many emails as I've been getting in the last two weeks! But I wanted to take a minute to lasso my thoughts into something tangible, and to get some feedback.

Last night, I finally sat down with two of my very dear friends for the first time in several weeks. We ate dinner, talked, prayed, shared news, and laughed about many things. And then I saw it. Laying on the ottoman next to my feet was Mackenzie's fresh copy of Bittersweet, the newest book by one of our favorite authors, Shauna Niequist. I wound up reading aloud a chapter called "Twenty-five."

The chapter is at once a call to action, a letter to Shauna's twenty-five-year-old self, and a prayer for twenty-somethings everywhere who are desperate to figure out who they are and what they want.

"Now is the time," Shauna says again and again. Now is the time before families, before mortgages, before iron-clad schedules, before "job security" that keeps us from reaching for what it is that we're actually passionate about. Before it gets that far, ask yourself what you want and make sure you do it.

Could there have been a better time for the 3 of us to read this? Now IS the time. So we talked. We talked about what we want and what we know we're good at it and what we're doing now to try and make it happen. No solid conclusions, but I am finding more and more that in this period of time where change is the only constant, we should stop being afraid of change and start using it to our advantage.

And this is the very core of Shauna's book: change itself is bittersweet, but it makes our lives so surprisingly, unexpectedly, and beautifully rich. Like coffee. Like chocolate. Like a good Merlot. Like a deliciously well-written chapter in a book.

What I like about chapter "Twenty-five" is how Shauna examines our tendency to cling to familiarity, to circumstances that keep us from reaching our full potential because we are afraid of change.

Any life-changing moment, any epiphany we have doesn't come when we're walking on cloud nine. It doesn't come from being in our comfort zone. It comes when we've just discovered that what we thought was "good enough" isn't good for us, and so we have to try something different in order to find that thing we "can't live without."

I'm not sure that life is about finding ways to make yourself "happy." Can any of us define what that is? There is no remedy, no choice that can ensure that elusive thing that is often only there to make us dissatisfied with what we've already been blessed with.

"Happiness" only satisfies one facet of our appetites, and eventually we realize it isn't enough to make us whole. And then we realize, we don't like the person we're becoming. What we really need is balance. We need boldness and courage.

Bittersweet is a way of life, one that's more real and true and one that allows us to make decisions with the wisdom that the bitter and the sweet, the good and the bad, are intertwined and equally necessary to becoming selves that we are proud of.

We may hate that we don't have everything figured out right now. We may wish that we had peace of mind, the feeling of being secure, settled. But peace never comes at the cost of settling.

Instead of grabbing desperately for the time when we're so sure we're going to "have everything figured out," let's take our twenty-something years and live them like we know they should be: the years that we will look back on as some of the most poignant, the most teaching, the most changing, the most triumphant, the most bittersweet.


Kevin said...

"Now is the time," Shauna says again and again. Now is the time before families, before mortgages, before iron-clad schedules, before "job security" that keeps us from reaching for what it is that we're ACTUALLY passionate about."

Love that quote!

I always have to remind myself that I am not 'old', that while it is true that there are somethings I will never be able to do in life (ie be an engineer, architect, astronaut, gymnist, what ever) there are still many things I can still become. And while most of the time this reality angers me, sometimes it motivates me to roll further down the path I have stamped for myself.

- KS

Unknown said...

This hits home, to the core! I'm pretty sure this book was written for me. my middle name is "fear of change". But what I love about this is the encouragement to "live life like we're dying"(quoting Kris Allen here) or something along those lines. And settingly shouldn't be something we are okay with but in reality moving away from. I agree whole heartedly. Oh and my sister kelly said she loves this(I read it out loud to her) and she said that if you ever write a book, she'll read it! Love Love Love!

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