Present Over Perfect: Book Review

I recently listened to Shauna Niequist interviewed on the Newsworthy with Norsworthy podcast . Shauna discussed her newest book, Present Over Perfect:  Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living.

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Shauna writes about the beautiful and broken moments of everyday life–friendship, family, faith, food, marriage, love, babies, books, celebration, heartache, and all the other things that shape us, delight us, and reveal to us the heart of God.  Learn more about Shauna at Shauna Niequist.

Present Over Perfect is an invitation to this journey that changed my life. I’ll walk this path with you, a path away from frantic pushing and proving, and toward your essential self, the one you were created to be before you began proving and earning for your worth.”

Let me share some of Shauna’s beautiful and powerful words that I heard during this wonderful interview:


“If I hustle long enough the emptiness will never catch up to me.”

“Anything that is a buffer between you and your feelings becomes a drug. ”

“Work gave me a reason not to listen to my feelings. ”

“I didn’t  like the person I was. I kept running. I kept working. I kept the volume up.”


“This will not make me feel loved.”

” The love I want will not be found here.”

This will not make me feel loved.  I filter things through this mantra.”

“I am working.  Traveling.  Speaking too much.  I needed to say no.  Not just work stuff.”

“I needed to say no to other things too.”

“I thought always saying yes meant I was loved ”

“I now speak 12 times per year, not the 55 I used to do.”

Concentric Circles

“The center of my circle is: God, my husband, my kids.”

“One rung out from the center is my parents, my brothers, my  closest friends.”

Ann Lamott reminds us:  “I am not the flight attendant for the planet.”

Silence and Centering Prayer

“What can I do to mend or heal.”

“One method was silence and centering prayer.”

“Silence fills me with a sense of God’s love”

“I begin each day with 3 minutes of  silence.”

“I am grounded in God’s unconditional love.”

 There is nothing I can do to earn more love from God or squander or ruin His love for me.”

“There is freedom in this!”

A Well Tended Soul

“We get to decide the size of our life.”

 “Are we brave enough to be honest about the limits and capacity we have?”

“The  best thing I can offer the world is who I am, a well tended soul.”

“A well tended inner life is much needed!”

 “Writers shut down.   Pastors shut down. They are so tired. Beyond exhausted.”

Slow….Durable and Beautiful

“Slow….durable and beautiful.  That is what I want our careers to be!”

“What are the opportunities I have to connect with God, rest my body and enjoy the beauty God has made. ”

“I want to connect meaningfully with people I am close to.”

 My to do list is not about what I achieve.  It is about connection.  It is about being entirely with the people I am with.”

 Next Steps

I encourage you to check out Present Over Perfect.  I was delighted to learn that Shauna practices silence and centering prayer.  This too is a daily practice for me.

Centering prayer reconnects me to God who loves me more than I will ever truly understand.  Centering prayer recharges and refreshes me.  Centering prayer teaches me how to live.  It teaches me how to be more present.  It teaches me how to become the person God wants me to be!

“In these pages, you’ll be invited to consider the landscape of your own life, and what it might look like to leave behind the pressure to be perfect and begin the life-changing practice of simply being present, in the middle of the mess and the ordinariness of life.”

Go Further

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist

Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life by Shauna Niequist

Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist

Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Areby Shauna Niequist

Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life by Phileena Heuertz



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