31 Days: Present ~ Present Over Perfect

A book review to start it all…

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October brings an annual challenge and in year four the choice was obvious. Maybe not as practical as the past couple of years but here goes….

31 Days: Present

I chose the word “present” at the start of 2016 and believe it was ordained. I needed this word as my constant companion this year. I needed the lessons that would follow it, the self reflection it would inspire, and the quest it would begin for me.

So for the month of October I’ll write, I’ll share, I’ll explore the ideas and maybe we’ll learn a few things together.

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A few months ago I heard that my favorite author, Shauna Niequist, had a new book coming out and the title… Present Over Perfect said it all. Impeccable timing, god-appointed if you ask me. I agreed to review the book and in some ways it was almost debilitating. I felt a responsibility I haven’t felt before to the book, the topic, and to my readers who this story may impact. And then I had to let that go. As I did, the book became my constant companion. I couldn’t put it down. Every page filled with chicken scratch notes, doodles, and musings.

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Some thoughts on the book.
– It is a memoir, a story about how Niequist unearths Present Over Perfect in her life. It is not the typical “self help book” and really shouldn’t be approached though that lens.
– The story is true to her personal process, and is not completely linear. I think it is this fact that helped me unearth how the story and the lessons she learned pertained to me.
– This story is not universal, but the lessons may be.
– Shauna loves Jesus with her whole heart and this is exuded through the entire story. She shares transparently because this is who God made her to be and if you are lucky enough to learn something from her story, if you are able to walk away with just a bit of insight, then the gift is yours for the taking.
– Shauna does not give you an equation, a solution, or even a set of easy to ingest bullet points for how to obtain presence over perfection.

As I began the story it became clear to me that Niequist and I come from very different places and fairly early in the book she acknowledges a group of people that she didn’t believe even existed, ” some people, apparently, feel solid and loved, and secure in their most inside secret parts.” As I read this I had to acknowledge that I am one of those people and so this story was not completely relatable to my life, Niequist really comes from the opposite perspective. When I read her book Bread and Wine I felt like she filled the pages with words directly from my heart and that she literally served my heart and mind up on a platter. I knew early that reading this book was not going to provide that same exact comfort, feeling known and relating to every.single.word. But I also knew I needed these words.

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That said every page of Present Over Perfect had something I could learn from, something that I felt like the Lord wanted me to read, explore, and dive into. This book is a spring board for me. I believe it could be for you too. Niequist uses literature, poetry, music, imagery, and Scripture to point you to the Lord. She utilizes prayer to center herself and bring her back to who God made her to be. She meditates on Scripture. She uses silence. She has found places in her life that encourage her to connect with herself and with her creator, and visits them frequently. Healing, groundedness. I’m telling you this book is  a gem and completely a place for you me to start.

I hope you will grab the book and join me this month as I explore “Present” further.

I did receive a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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