A few weeks ago, I placed a big order of books on Amazon. I'm definitely a library gal and love getting my books that way, but I'm boycotting one of my local libraries (that's a story for another time--let's just say that several of the women who work there fit the stereotype of the cranky, old librarian and aren't too pleasant to be around) and I didn't think the other library was likely to have the books I was after.
So I hopped on Amazon and a fresh stack of books arrived on my stoop a few days later. Almost immediately I sat down with Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist, devoured the first 100 pages in about 30 minutes, and ended up finishing the book the next day. I think my soul must have been thirsting for the wisdom and the stories and the amazing beauty that is packed into this book. I remember I wasn't really having a great day when the box arrived and I think this book was just what I needed, at that precise moment, to get me out of a funk.
The idea behind Bittersweet is powerful and encouraging. Niequist writes so convincingly about the trying, sorrowful, heartbreaking seasons of life and the ways they can shape us if we let them. That we can't grow and change and become more than we are if life is only easy, pure sweetness, filled with unmitigated happiness and joy. That we need those trials and difficulties and that if we lean into them, instead of fighting them, we will change in remarkable ways and lead better, more godly lives as a result. Life is bittersweet and that's a blessing.
Here is a little snippet from the book. This is how the book ends, with a plea for all of us to share our own lives, the bitter and the sweet and the bittersweet:
This is what I want you to do: tell your story. Don't allow the story of God, the sacred, transforming story of what God does in a human heart to become flat and lifeless. If we choose silence, if we allow the gospel to be told only on Sundays, only in sanctuaries, only by approved and educated professionals, that life-changing story will lose its ability to change lives.
It always goes back to the beginning, no matter how far we've wandered off course. When Christ walked among us, he entrusted the gospel to plain old regular people who were absolutely not religious professionals. If you have been transformed by the grace of God, then you have within you all you need to write your manifesto, your poem, your song, your battle cry, your love letter to a beautiful and broken world.
Among other things, I think these two paragraphs are such a powerful testament to what we do as bloggers. When we sit at our computers and write about the hills and valleys in our lives and what brings us hope on darker days and how we choose to celebrate our greatest joys. We all have different writing styles and levels of comfort with how much we divulge and we certainly all have unique struggles and triumphs. What matters is that we aren't "choosing silence" and that instead, we have this belief to some degree that what each of us have to say is worthy and meaningful.
The way God works in each of us is wonderful. We shouldn't hide the light that gives us daily courage, and neither should we hide the pain that sometimes feels like it will be too much. Both are beautiful, both have God at the center, and both deserve a voice.