*Disclaimer* Though it starts out rough, I promise there is a happy ending.
I feel like I have been crawling/dragging myself through the last two weeks. I feel beaten and bruised and...thankful for His timing and perfect love.
Last week was annoyingly bad, with a decent weekend break, followed by a Monday that was way worse. Tuesday found me killing time in the Mardel parking lot too broken to move, ashamed, and with no one to blame but myself.
I'll spare you the gory details, but after an over-the-phone counseling session with The Madre and a quick trip to Jamba Juice, I decided to go inside. An hour later.
I wasn't looking for anything, in particular, just wandering, until I remembered a book recommendation from two sweet twins. bittersweet by Shauna Niequist.
I had no preconceived notions of what this book would be about, but it came highly recommended by both girls, whom I highly respect, so it has been on my reading list for a while. I couldn't remember the authors name and I certainly wasn't in the mood to talk to anyone, so I just walked up and down the aisles waiting for it to pop out.
And it did.
I teared up as I read the full title: bittersweet--thoughts on change, grace, and learning the hard way. Embarrassed, I clutched the book and ran to check out.
Back in the safety of my car, I read the prologue and cried:
The idea of bittersweet is changing the way I live, unraveling and re-weaving the way I understand life.
Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a sliver of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich when it contains a splinter of sadness.
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, earthy.
This collection is an ode to all things bittersweet, to life at the edges, a love letter to what change can do in us. 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 along, except that you were too busy pushing and pulling your life into exactly what you thought it should be. So this is the work I'm doing now, and the work I invite you into when life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.
I definitely found myself in God's hand...in the fetal position. And I have a new prayer.
My prayer is not for Him to rescue me, but to redeem me. Not for Him to make this go away, but for Him to show me His way. Not that this would be easy, but that He would be enough.
The elderly woman at the check-out counter said, "Oh honey, life is bittersweet, isn't it? I wouldn't have it any other way."
Amen, ma'am. Amen.