Review: Bittersweet

Happy December 4th! Today, I have a review for you!

We are closing in on the end of 2013. Take a minute and look back. Has 2013 changed anything for you? Was it just another year of normal? Were there outstanding blessings, or overwhelming heartaches? Were there changes that just kind of rocked you, but you didn’t know if they were good or bad? Chances are, you experienced some kind of change this year, whether little or big. I know I did, more in the big category, I believe.

Reading about Bittersweet online, I was very excited to pick up this book. Shauna Niequist wrote about her experiences of change through several seasons of life, and how those changes influenced her life. Between losing a job, to friends moving away, birth, miscarriage, marriage difficulties, and more, Shauna writes firsthand about the difficulty that change can be in our lives. I was interested to see how Shauna would weave together grace, the Gospel, and how to navigate change in our lives in a way that would make us more like Christ.

Bittersweet reads a lot like a collection of blog posts, which in some ways is great. It feels like you are sitting down with a friend and hearing her pour out her heart. Sometimes, in these seasons of our lives, that’s really what we need and yearn for. So, there is some freedom and release just in sitting down with this book and hearing about someone else’s struggles and what she has learned from them.

At the same time, I was really looking for a book that was going to be ridden with the Gospel and a story that is bigger than me. A book that was going to challenge me at my core and make me see why change is okay in the light of the cross, how I can use change as a catalyst to growth and service, not how to eat, host, and visit my way through the changes. I found the cross to be strangely absent. The book was enjoyable, and there were definitely some very good thoughts woven throughout:

So much of life, it seems, is about having the courage to ask your own questions instead of going with the script.

The world does not need another [book], but maybe you do. {paraphrased, because I didn’t mark it!}

However, I would put out a cautionary note that one not read this book and utilize it as a panacea. There is a deep truth to the fact that change can hurt. It can be a real struggle in the heart, and when the heart gets bound up in the struggles, we need something real that can change the heart. We need something that’s not going to make us feel better for a day or a week, we need something that is going to speak truth into the deep part of our hearts and realign our thinking to find out what this change means for us in our part of God’s story.

I struggled to get around to writing this review, mostly because I don’t want to criticize the writer through the written, but I also feel a real need to share my thoughts and what I believe to be truth regarding the concept of change in our lives. I will say that this book was enjoyable and quick to read, but I do not recommend it, for the very reason that I do not think it actually deals with the root of the problem of change, or the depth of the reality of grace in change.

My hope and prayer for you today is that if you are struggling through change in your life, you turn to the cross and find the grace and hope you need there. Life goes on, not always easily, but it does. Find your strength and hope in Jesus and lean on Him to carry you through.

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