I was asked to write a review of Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. After reading it, basically I was asked to review my life!
I am a mother, a wife and I have a career that involves long hours that are irregular plus travel. No matter the order of these three things, I regularly feel guilty for not “fulfilling” either one or even all of the three roles “perfectly”.
The Choice: Present Or Perfect
Shauna Niequist has been there and details this struggle in her book. She states that at the crossroad in her life, “There we were, women in our thirties. Educated, married, mothers, women who have careers, who manage homes and oversee companies. And there we were, utterly resigned to lives that feel overly busy and pressurized, disconnected and exhausted.”
As soon as I read that I understood completely that I have been feeling the same way for some time.
Jennifer Chretien is the newest participant in the Ironman group – people from North Pointe who believe that as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. We use a diversity of written material as food for thought and discussion. Our latest read was Shauna Niequest’s book Present Over Perfect. Like Shauna, Jennifer is a wife and mom with a career as a union negotiator. She stepped to the plate to share her personal takeaways from the book.
Hearing God In The Silence
For Shauna and for many people I think it comes down to motivation. There is an expectation that our worth is found in what others think of us; how far up the corporate ladder we are; our sales for this month or year; or what people think of our sermons or our writing. What Shauna wants us to consider is, does being at the top of all that make God love you or me more?
I am an extrovert or 100% “party country” or whatever other personality chart says about being extroverted – I am fully it. I don’t sit in the silence well.
Shauna comes from a similar place when she writes, “My crazy brain has always been my gift and my challenge, and I’ve tried everything to lower the volume in my head, because things really do get a little loud in there.” God often whispers to us and in order to hear Him we need to focus on Him.
The practical aspect of learning to quiet ourselves and focus on God is where the book doesn’t work for me. Shauna was able to resign from her hectic career in order to create more time to focus on Him, while the average person does not have that same ability.
I was hoping for some insight from her for those of us who want to continue working, but also want to draw closer to our Father.
Shauna’s motivation was for the approval of others and personal success but she made a valuable discovery: “…God loves me, and there’s nothing I can do in this new day to earn more love – nothing. And also that there’s nothing I can do in this new day to ruin or break that love – nothing.”
Present Over Perfect
She started the book with looking at her own motivation and I think that as seasons of our life change, our motivations in those seasons will change and need to be re-examined in the light of God’s love.
The book was a good reminder that as Christians and, particularly Christian women, we often hold ourselves to a standard of perfection that God doesn’t require from us and instead we need to be present to clearly hear what God is speaking into our lives.
APPLICATION: Please leave a comment for Jennifer in the comment section below. Thank you.
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