"I believe that God is making all things new. I believe that Christ overcame death and that that pattern is apparent all through life and history: life from death, water from stone, redemption from failure, connection from alienation. I believe that suffering is a part of the narrative, and that nothing really good gets built when everything’s easy. I believe that loss and emptiness and confusion often give way to new fullness and wisdom.
But in a difficult season, I fail to believe in the big, beautiful story of who God is and what He is doing in this world. If I’m honest, I prayed the way you order breakfast from a short order cook: this is what I want. Period. This is what I want. Aren’t you getting this? I don’t pray for God’s will to be done in my life, or, at any rate, I don’t mean it. I pray to be rescued, not redeemed. I pray for it to get easier, not that I would be shaped in significant ways. I pray for the waiting to be over, instead of trying to learn something about patience or anything else for that matter.
What I know now, though, is that change is one of God’s greatest gifts, and most useful tools. I’ve learned that change can push us, pull us, rebuke and remake us. It can show us who we’ve become, in the worst ways, and also in the best ways. I’ve learned that in many cases, change is not life’s cruelty but instead a function of God’s graciousness.
If you can find it within yourself, in the wildest of seasons, just for a moment, to trust in the goodness of God, who made it all and holds it all together, you’ll find yourself drawn along to a whole new place, and there’s truly nothing sweeter. Unclench your fists, unlock your knees and also the door to your heart, take a deep breath, and let God do his work in you." – Shauna Niequist; Bittersweet
E D I T O R S ' N O T E
Three years ago I read Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist and it changed my life– literally put me back together during a season of heartache and confusion. The words on those pages opened my eyes to God’s grace and I’m so very thankful. They restored me, gave me hope, an edge, a confidence. Secure in who He says I am, I felt like I could take over the world. It was her words that inspired me to start Styled With Strength.
I've recommended Bittersweet to a number of friends and they all rave about it. I’ve given it as a birthday present, a house-warming gift, heck, I’ve had it FedEx’ed to a friend’s doorstep when she was going through a tough time for crying out loud.
“[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. Bittersweet is courageous, gutsy, audacious, earthy.
This is what I’ve come to believe about change: it’s good, in the way that childbirth is good, and heartbreak is good, and failure is good. By that I mean that it’s incredibly painful, exponentially more so if you fight it, and also that it has the potential to open you up, to open life up, to deliver you right into the palm of God’s hand, which is where you wanted to be all long, except that you were too busy pushing and pulling your life into exactly what you thought it should be.”
Bittersweet is a must read for all ages. If I can help one person the way this book has helped me, well then I have done what I’ve set out to do.