There are moments when I feel, suddenly, lucky and thankful and shocked at how happy I am. I have called this the hardest season in my adult life, which it is, and it is not what I had planned in the least, but it is also a secretly beautiful, special season at the same time. It’s hard, because some relationships still feel broken, and because we have a lot less money, and because I am afraid, sometimes, about the future, but at the same time, I surprise myself with how okay it is and how okay I am with not knowing exactly what will come next.

— Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines, p. 206

Honest Affection

Detaching from members of one’s family certainly does not imply a lack of love. On the contrary, it generally means a measure of honest affection. It is a demonstration of trust that the loved one will listen to his or her Higher Power and make the decisions that are right for their own path. None of us can hear the Higher Power of another. Therefore, we can’t know what’s truly best for someone else. We can know what we think is best, but that generally reflects our own specific desire for their life.

— Karen Casey, Let Go Now, p. 175

Just Past the Curse

When you can invest yourself deeply and unremittingly in the life that surrounds you instead of declaring yourself out of the game once and for all, because what’s happened to you is too bad, too deep, too ugly for anyone to expect you to move on from, that’s that good, rich place. That’s the place where the things that looked for all intents and purposes like curses start to stand up and shimmer and dance, and you realize with a gasp that they may have been blessings all along. Or maybe not. Maybe they were curses, in fact, but the force of your belief and your hope and your desperate love for life as it is actually unfolding, has brought a blessing from a curse, like water from a stone, like life from a tomb, like the actual story of God over and over.

I would never try to tell you that every bad thing is really a good thing, just waiting to be gazed at with pretty new eyes, just waiting to be shined up and — ta da! — discovered as fantastic. But what I know is that for me, and for my friend Jon, and for a lot of the people I love, we’re discovering that lots of times, not every time, maybe, but more often than not, there is something just past the heartbreak, just past the curse, just past the despair, and that thing is beautiful. You don’t want it to be beautiful, at first. You want to stay in the pain and the blackness because it feels familiar, and because you’re not done feeling victimized and smashed up. But one day you’ll wake up surprised and humbled, staring at something you thought for sure was a curse and has revealed itself to be a blessing — a beautiful, delicate blessing.

— Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines, p. 178-179

First Follow

In the biblical pattern of faith, believing comes last. Indeed, this pattern repeats in both the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament. From the calling of Abraham and Sarah through the great prophets and heroes of Israel to Jesus and the early church, those who walked with faith started by following, by becoming part of God’s community, by enacting the practices of God’s way, and finally by recognizing and proclaiming the glory of God.

— Diana Butler Bass, Christianity After Religion, p. 209

Tragedy to Whom?

But the only person who decided my life had turned to dust was me. The only person who is still deeply troubled about what I’ve lost, even in the face of what I’ve gained, is me. I would never have wanted it this way, but something bright and beautiful has been given to me, and I’m in grave danger of losing it, squandering it, becoming a person who cannot find the goodness that’s right in front of her because of the sadness that she chooses to let obscure it.

— Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines, p. 177

Live Lives of Ease

If we really could control others, our burdens would be heavy. Our work would never, ever, be finished. Why then do we think we want the power to control others? For years I pondered this. I think it’s because we think that if others do as we ask, it’s a sign of love, and love is what we fear losing most of all. When others give in to our way of thinking, it’s because they love us unconditionally — or so we tell ourselves. Only then can we rest and feel secure.

The fallacy of this runs so deep. Others doing our will has nothing to do with love. They simply may be tired of the battle. How much more serene our lives would be if we gave up the battle too. Deciding to detach is our invitation to live lives of ease. Someone else may not give up the battle, but let’s do it ourselves.

— Karen Casey, Let Go Now, p. 166

What We Call Curses

I know that it seemed like God was being cruel that year…. But he was not. What I know now is that his kindness burns through even the deepest betrayals and invites life from death every chance we let him. There are things that explode into our lives and we call them curses, and then one day, a year later or ten years later, we realize that they are actually something else. They are the very most precious kinds of blessings.

— Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines, p. 176