In today’s author snapshot we have an exclusive look at one of the stories Shauna Niequest shares in her ebook, Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life. Shauna is one of our Top 15 Authors to Watch in 2015 and the author of Bread and Wine, Bittersweet, and the upcoming ebook Savor: Living Abundantly. You can pre-order Savor for just $10.99 today on Vyrso! Shauna is married to Aaron and they have two boys, Henry and Mac. She writes for the Storyline Blog and for IF: Table and is a guest teacher at her church Willow Creek.
Until a few years ago, I’d always lived in a new house. But I’d always wanted to live in an old house. I thought of myself as an old-house person, a person who appreciates character over perfection, who likes the bumps and bruises of an old home. So when we moved to Grand Rapids, we bought an old house, an English Tudor built in 1920 with a Hobbit-house sloping roof. I fell in love with it. It has arched doorways and hardwood floors and funny little corners and built-in cabinets. We moved in and started fixing it up, painting, and putting in new outlets and new fixtures.
And then I went over to a friend’s house—a new house. I was overcome with jealousy over her new house, not because it was fancy or big, but because the toilets didn’t run, and none of the windows were painted shut, and none of the doorknobs get stuck. At our house, there’s a doorknob that sticks so emphatically, that if my husband’s not home to open it, I can’t get in. I have to make sure I don’t leave anything important in there when he’s out of town.
I was so jealous of my friend’s new house, that when I got back to my house, all I could see were the imperfections, the fixer-upper things that were not yet fixed up. The floors are uneven and the tiles are cracked and the drawers squeak and the radiators clank. We have both bats and mice. The basement smells funny, and I just found some big pieces of the basement ceiling on the floor. I’m not a contractor, but I don’t think that’s a good sign.
I think of myself as an old-house girl, but I guess there’s still a lot of new house in me. I want to love the imperfections, but in a weak moment, I want central air and granite countertops so bad I can’t take it. Some of it, unfortunately, is about what other people think. I’m fairly certain that our house is the bad house in the neighborhood, and that our neighbors are whispering to each other disapprovingly every time they drive by.
I was getting ready one morning, putting on makeup and looking out the bathroom window to the street. This woman was driving by very slowly, like she was checking things out, giving us the once-over, and I really had to stop myself from screaming out the window, “We’re doing the best we can! We’ve only been here, like, five minutes! We’re totally unfamiliar with gardening of any kind, and one can only learn so fast!”
But I didn’t know that lady. The person having a problem with the house, clearly, is me. And it’s not about the house. It’s about me. I can’t handle any more things that are not quite right in my life, because I feel like that’s all I’ve got. I feel like every single part of my life has bumps and bruises and broken pieces.
I want to be all shiny and new, all put together, and I just can’t get there. The things I try to forget don’t go away, and the mistakes I’ve made don’t go away. I’m a lot like my old house— cracked and mismatched and patched over.
On my worst days, I start to believe that what God wants is perfection. That God is a new-house God. That everything has to work just right, with no cracks in the plaster and no loose tiles. That I need to be completely fixed up. I always think that God’s kind of people are squeaky-clean people whose garages don’t leak; but really, a lot of the people God uses to do amazing things are people who don’t necessarily have it all together. A lot of the best stories in the Bible, the ones where God does sacred, magical things through people, have a cast of some serious fixer-uppers.
Get more from Shauna Niequest’s: download a collection of her stories in her ebook, Cold Tangerines for just $8.99 today on Vyrso!
In today’s author snapshot we have an exclusive look at one of the stories Shauna Niequest shares in her ebook, Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life. Shauna is one of our Top 15 Authors to Watch in 2015 and the author of Bread and Wine, Bittersweet, and the upcoming ebook Savor: Living […]