It’s funny how with the expanse of social media, we all know what everyone is reading. It’s all over our news feed. And books work in popularity, just like wedge booties or technology or the newest pair of skinny jeans. Suddenly, you see the same books floating around and they catch your eye, because everyone seems to be reading them. Sometimes I grasp onto these trends, and sometimes I try to find all the books that no one is reading or has ever heard of just to be a rebel. In this case, I followed the crowd.
I think God often works in themes in our lives. Suddenly, if you are paying attention, He seems to keep saying the same thing to you over and over again. Sometimes it’s through the words of a friend or a trusted mentor, a song, a message. Or a book. For me, those soft whispers from His Spirit often come through simple words on a page.
I love to read and I love when I feel I have something specific to learn or glean from the experience of the writer. I love the thought that someone else has walked the same road. While Shauna’s experiences are vastly different from mine(I’m not turning down speaking engagements or book deal’s, my no’s are on a much smaller scale), I have felt the pressure to say a resounding yes to all things and all people just the same.
This book was relevant to me and and my season. I read a review on Amazon that sort of put her down for her experiences. Because not everyone can relate to her kinds of no’s and the things she chose to walk away from and the fact that she had the choice to do so. Choices are massive blessings aren’t they? To be able to choose to step back from work is a choice not everyone is free to make, and I get that. However, I don’t think it means we can’t learn something from it. Just because her life is different from mine(or yours) doesn’t mean we can’t relate to some of her feelings and convictions.
I’m in a season of simplifying. Of being present, which I’ve talked about quit a bit on the blog. I’ve read other books on this topic, and found Present Over Perfect to be more of a personal journey rather than a self-help or a how to book. I read it in short sections, then would put it down in order to chew on or digest what I read and how it applied to my life. Then I’d pick it back up.
Many of the things that Shauna had struggled with were the very things I have struggled with in the past year or so of crazy schedules and the busy pace of life. Again, the details aren’t the same, because her life isn’t mine, but I found myself relating to her questions of how to know when to step back, how to rest, and how to enjoy life more.
I feel the draw of nature and water and stopping to read a book on a porch. I’m drawn to the mountains and a slower pace of life. Getting away from the rush and the noise. Things not everyone really desires to do. So not everyone may relate to her story or her vantage point. But I did.
Side note. Yes. That’s a can of BBQ Pringles in my front seat, along with hair spray, Lila’s Sunday school papers from a week before and a hat. Always a hat. That’s real life. If your car is clean, please by my friend and teach me your ways, because my car is never clean. Ever.
Back to the book…….
The book worked in short chapters, each with a different theme or thought. Some were more like ramblings from her journal or day-to-day findings. I enjoyed this approach as it’s often how I do life. If you like a steady flow of thoughts with an overall theme, this may not be your jam. But I’m a little scattered, so I followed along just fine. However, it is a different feel than some of her other books. As much as I enjoyed the book, I understand a lot of my feelings and views towards it are based on where I am right now in my life and where I have found myself journeying this past year.
I often find myself stopping during the day to journal or write as a way to escape so her approach appealed to me. However, I can see how it could be a little hard to follow, as you almost had to get into her world and see out her window. I think it’s important to find the nuggets from others that relate to you and your life. Your story. It wasn’t a Bible Study or a self-help, it was her story. And I like reading people’s stories, even when they come from different back grounds, different beliefs, a different social class or family dynamic, or different theology. There is still much to learn.
I would say this book was a game changer for me. Not because I related to every single story, but because I just got where she was coming from. It met me where I was. I understand the draw and pull to be busy and never learn how to truly rest our souls. To focus so much on the things we deem important, just to find that maybe we have been looking at the wrong things all along.
I think on some level we can all relate to being busy, regardless of the causes of our busyness. We can relate to the fear of missing out on the important things. The fear of never really learning how to be still and quiet.
I think this means more than just physical rest. I think it’s also a mental state that we can allow for ourselves. Because maybe physical rest during the day isn’t an option for you right now. Maybe you have circumstances beyond your control that don’t allow for lake getaways or easy moments in front of a fire place in the broad of daylight. Maybe just allowing your mind some rest is a good place to start. Ten minutes before bed just meditating on scripture or reading a good book.
“This isn’t about working less or more, necessarily. This isn’t about homemade or takeout, or full time or part time, or the specific ways we choose to live out our days. It’s about rejecting the myth that every day is a new opportunity to prove our worth, and about the truth that our worth is inherent, given by God, not earned by our hustling.”
Maybe it’s grabbing a cup of tea and sitting in your favorite chair for a few minutes in the morning before you day starts, just to allow some rest for your mind and soul before the crazy of your world is all around you for the day. It can be more than just escaping and saying no, it can be saying yes to just small moments of “rest” in all sorts of different ways, based on YOUR circumstances. I think it’s about finding a state of rest that works for you and allows some freedom from the frantic.
Last year was frantic for me. In fact, I don’t remember most of it. I was running around like a crazy person all the time with a tight chest and a tired mind and body. Then, God started to reveal little by little that I needed less frantic in my life. Less crazy. More moments of still. I needed more simple joys and a general attitude of attentiveness.
Maybe this isn’t the most comprehensive book review, but maybe I’m more of a runner and writer of my mom thoughts than a book review gal, so go easy. This is my experience with a book that met me where I was. I think it’s important to read with an open eye. We don’t have to write something off if it’s just not something we can relate to at the time. We might one day. And it could be that the words you read now come back in a different season, and make a lot more sense.
So, I’d encourage you to give this a try. Keep an open mind and follow along on Shanua’s journey and take what applies to you for now, and store the rest away for later. Because there is always something to learn.
Here are just a few of my favorite quotes from the book…..
“My greatest dream is to be left alone? Things have gone terribly awry. There has to be another way. And I’m going to find it. I’m going to make the space to taste my life once again. I’m going to find a new way of living that allows for rest, as much rest as I need, not just enough to get me through without tears, but enough to feel alive and whole, grounded and gracious. Things I haven’t felt in years.”
“But here’s the good news: you get to decide who you’re going to disappoint, who you’re going to say no to. And it gets easier over time, the disappointing. What you need along the way; a sense of God’s deep, unconditional love, and a strong sense of your own purpose. Without those two, you’ll need from people what is only God’s to give, and you’ll give up on your larger purpose in order to fulfill smaller purposes or other people’s purposes.”
“Bless them. But don’t spend too much time with them. Draw close to people who honor your no, who cheer you on for telling the truth, who value your growth more than they value their own needs getting met or their own pathologies celebrated.”
“And if you can wean yourself off the drug of quick charm, off the drug of being good at something, the drug of work or money or information or marathon training-whatever it is you do to avoid the scary intimacy required for a rich home life-that’s when love can begin. But only then. It’s all in here, not out there.”
I’m reading Uninvited now along with an oldy but a goody…The Distinguishing Traits of Christian Character……and next on my reading list is…
Wild and Free by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan
Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott
Fervent by Priscilla Shirer
Falling Free by Shannan Martin
How about you? Whatcha reading????