Several months ago, I read a book called, “Cold Tangerines,” by Christian writer and mother, Shauna Niequist. I was immediately captivated by her words, her colorful voice, and her ability to find beauty and God’s grace in the most mundane places. When I found out that her newest book, “Present Over Perfect,” was coming out soon, I immediately was delighted to find another book that I knew would steal my heart. I could not wait one single second to share this book with every person who will read this post.
I began reading last night. I lite some candles, started a warm bath, and added some bubbles: because is there any other way to dive into a good read? When I say Shauna drew me in to her book, I mean I read eighty-nine pages and was forced to stop only when the bath water was completely drained and I was sitting in beautiful silence in an empty tub. But what makes this book so special? Is it the raw and honest way that she uses stories to connect herself with so many other people? Yes. Does her need for busyness and approval so deeply align with my own? Yes. And has her own journey of faith, shaking and imperfect, caused individuals, myself included, to want to grow deeper in relationship with God?–truly asking questions we may be afraid to ask ourselves. Yes, it is all these things and more that allow this book to be an anthem to those who cling to being good at something, those in need of outside approval, and those who seek affirmation.
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We are ingrained to want to be liked by others, for them to think that we have it all together. We shield ourselves from pain, anxieties, and stillness by keeping ourselves busy. Our calendars rule our lives and I am no exception to this. I list every appointment, my exercise schedule, market lists, and social outings. My actions are frequently determined by what I have written on small lines. While there is nothing wrong with organization or planning, it can be dangerous to fall into the busyness trap. One of my all-time favorite saying is a line from a Mumford and Sons song that states, “Where you invest your love, you invest your life.” What are you investing your time in? Do you feel guilty spending time reading or with family instead of being productive at home or for work? Let me say, busyness is not the enemy, but in glorifying it and stuffing your calendars full to the brim, are we really investing our time and energy in the right places?
For these reasons, “Present Over Perfect” has struck such a cord with me. I often struggle with simplicity in a society that screams MORE MORE MORE! We are taught to binge watch, binge eat, and binge shop. Having one job is never enough; we must have a job, hobbies, a spouse, 2.5 kids, and several pets. While I may not be in that stage of life that Shauna is in with two young children and approaching middle age, I still identify with her struggle for slowing down. I, too, desire to leave a legacy marked not solely by accomplishments, but by moments. When I am on my death bed, I do not want to be focusing on how much money is in my bank account, whether or not my appearance is picture perfect, or if my social media has racked up the most likes, I want to look back on the moments and know that I lived my life to the fullest.
So, while I still have seventy-five pages left to gobble up in this book, please let me say how passionately I recommend not only adding this to your reading list, but using it as a challenge to restart your life. I wholeheartedly believe that the white spaces in your calendar can have more impact than those scribbled through and color-coded.
Be Here Now. Be Present. Take In Each Moment.
Now go read and be the person that God is calling you to be.