This is one of those posts that is exactly what I’d be talking to you about this very day, so grab a cup of coffee or tea and settle in…
I don’t know how to write this. My heart is full and words escape me. When I try to put in words what I want to say, I end up opening her book and quoting her. Some of her quotes have become like old friends.
I am talking about Shauna Niequist and her book, Present Over Perfect.
Late last fall, my daughter said to me, “You’ve got to ready this book, Present Over Perfect. It totally nails us.” ‘Us’ meaning meaning her twin and me. At that time I was editing Unlocking Belief, and had no room in my life or in my brain for anything else. Yet, every time I had a free moment I read about the author, read the book reviews, even a few sample pages. The book wouldn’t leave me alone. Something about the byline, leaving behind frantic… So I ordered it, not the Kindle version, real pages, and it was my book for January 2017.
I was one chapter in when I cried. I was two chapters in when I wrote the author. And in chapter three I slowed down knowing this was going to be my book for the entire year, maybe longer.
I cried because I knew that God sent this book to me. I can’t remember all the prayers I have prayed over my calendar, but just recently a dear friend was back in town and we picked up our old prayer time. She told me that four years ago when it came around to me coughing up and saying what I needed prayer for, for me – this was it – the way-too-full calendar and how to get out from under the frenzy.
My modus operandi is go, go, go, until burn out or exhaustion comes, then take a break, go underground, get a little energy back, then go again like a steam engine repeating the same scenario. This has been me for years, so many years that I know no other way.
From the first words I heard God speaking to me. Not audibly, but confirming that I was on the right path, that He was in this. I began to pray over everything I highlighted, which is practically the entire book. I asked God to teach me how to change, and my writing became little notes to God, my prayer thoughts, stuck all through the book.
I am learning how to slow down. I am learning how to be busy with a quiet mind. How to be different, how to delve into the pockets of my own heart that make me me, and to be myself. I think I am learning, maybe for the first time, that God loves me. I definitely am learning that I’ve been proving myself for way too long. I don’t feel driven anymore to be what I don’t care about.
Today, my calendar has more wide open spaces for quiet moments with God. Today, I’m not trying to figure out my calendar; I’ve wrestled the thing to the ground and have it in a stronghold. I am telling it what to do, not ht other way around. And I still have such a long way to go.
The best thing is that God is changing me from the inside out.
I can tell. I’m not sure if anyone who lives with me can tell (yet), but I can tell. I am different.
And so, for a few quotes…
But it’s like I was pulling a little red wagon, and as I pulled it along, I filled it so full that I could hardly keep pulling. That red wagon was my life, and the weight of pulling it was destroying me. (chapter 1, the crying part)
I was a linebacker, a utility player, a worker bee. I ate on the run, slept in my clothes, worshiped at the altar of my to-do list, ignored the crying out of my body and soul like they were nothing more than the buzz of pesky mosquitoes. (chapter 2, when I wrote the author part – it wasn’t that I slept in my clothes, I like my pj’s too much for that; it was that she named the worship of a to-do list that woke me wide awake)
My greatest dream is to be left alone. Things have gone terribly awry. (chapter 3, too close to home, and so on)
Then she talks about (more quotes)…
being low maintenance
the quiet moments alone with God I sacrificed
putting the brakes on
saying no for a season
I am still so into it, I could talk for hours. Can I really throw perfection out the window and be satisfied with ‘present’? Please let the answer be yes.
I haven’t read the last chapter yet. I can’t bring myself to. I just keep re-reading and re-praying all the things I’ve learned hoping they sink deep deep into me and never leave.
Anything hit home? Are you terrified to read it? If so, I’d just have to say, “You’ve got to ready this book, Present Over Perfect. It totally nails us.”