1. “Simple pleasures are the best.”Yup, that’s right. In our world of $17 artisan wheat grass smoothies where people pay to jump out of planes, Susannah advocates for the joy of everyday moments. Whether it’s saying “yes” to a generous helping of your favorite dessert (Susannah’s is Mississippi Mud Cake SANS marshmallows), sitting with loved ones on the front porch, or riding in the car with the windows down on a warm summer day, we all need a reminder to appreciate the small moments in life.
2. “Grief is a place to visit, but it’s not a place to stay.”Susannah’s book talks a lot about her journey with grief, and while experience has taught her that “grief is a universal language,” she also knows that we can’t let our lives pass us by while we mourn the losses we will inevitably face. Yes, there is an appropriate time to grieve and reflect on the empty space that a death creates in our lives, but ultimately the greatest healing is to get back up and give love to others who are hurting around you. Speaking of love…
3. “We are instructed to love and forgive our enemies, yes, but nowhere in the Bible does it say we have to be friends with them on social media.”Girl, preach! I do NOT need to see the engagement photos of the girl who made me feel insecure all the way through middle school. If somebody is a negative force in your life – either in person or on your Instagram feed – say no to that friend request faster than the boy you asked the Sadie Hawkins dance (Just me? Cool.).
4. “Love is an action and not a feeling.”Is that conviction you’re feeling? Me, too. We all want the constant feeling of butterflies in our stomach when our SO shows up and movie-montage friendships full of shopping trips and pillow fights, but Susannah is here to tell you that real love is just getting started when the flirtation ends and the hurt feelings show up. Real love has the guts to roll up it’s sleeves and get down to the messy business of sticking it out with broken people.
5. “Our bodies aren’t garbage cans and we need to stop filling them with junk.”
I know, I know. If I could live exclusively on pizza and chocolate, I would. Susannah is no stranger to a sweet tooth, either (see Susannah’s love affair with cake from item #1), but she’s also come around to the understanding that what we put in is what we get out. If you aspire to live a life where you can “go for a brisk walk and not sweat bacon bits,” maybe it’s time to read the nutrition facts and choose the snack that’s not doused in high-fructose corn syrup.
6. “God himself rested on the seventh day. What makes us think we don’t need to?”Maybe you’re one of those lucky people who has never been plagued with the people-pleasing gene, but I for one seem to find my calendar constantly filled with items like “help Sarah move” and “go to Jane’s nephew’s piano recital.” Guess what, girlie? Jane’s nephew doesn’t care if you come to his piano recital. Eighteen months from now it won’t matter whether or not you were the 9th bridesmaid in Hannah’s wedding. We need to embrace the fact that we’re limited, and it’s ok to say no. We all come with built-in weaknesses. Which leads me to our next “Susannah says it best:”
7. “We need people, y’all.”It’s ok to have weaknesses. They allow us to lean on other people, which is just about the sweetest experience you can have in life. And we need someone to make us laugh in those times when we don’t think we’ll ever smile again. Because, as Susannah says…
8. “If we don’t cheer up, we’re going to dry up.”Again, Susannah profoundly understands the need to grieve and to honestly express our feelings. But if you let the story end there, you run the risk of becoming emotionally withered and permanently bitter. Like Naomi in the story of Ruth, who actually changed her name to “bitter,” our lack can become our identity if we let it. But Susannah reminds us to use the emotional moisturizer of laughter. If you choose to look for reasons to laugh, it can change your whole life. If you do, you might just find joy (remember, “bitter” wasn’t the end of Naomi’s story).
9. “Prayer works. And Lexapro ain’t bad, either.”Susannah is living proof that God can change people. As she puts it, who would have believed that “the stupid young girl who was once puking Boone’s Farm in a cotton field now writes devotionals.” With a family history riddled with addiction, she’s no stranger to the hang-ups that hold us prisoner. But with her mama’s faithful prayer and Susannah’s own commitment to beg God for help, Susannah has seen miracles happen in her family. She knows firsthand that God works through human means, though; she’s a firm advocate for counseling and proper medical treatment as we trust God for deliverance.
10. “Storms come into all our lives… No matter what, our best umbrella is faith.”
Whether life’s forecast is predicting a refreshing rain shower or a foundation-shaking tsunami, our best storm-shelter is trust. Susannah has seen this to be true many times in her life – including the occasion of each parent’s death and again after a heart-breaking miscarriage. No matter what life-storms she’s had to weather, she has always survived when she clung to her faith. If she has learned nothing else, Susannah holds fast to this: “His will for you is good and perfect” – even when it is also painful. Shea is a thrifting guru and a DIY dreamer. She spends her days promoting books with the Nelson Books team, and her nights and weekends blogging, drinking coffee, and attempting everything from a new, made up recipe to an amateur oil change. Love these weighty-yet-witty Southern Sayings from Susannah Lewis? Check out her upcoming book, Can’t Make This Stuff Up!: Finding the Upside to Life’s Downs. HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., operates Page Chaser, and is the publisher of Can’t Make this Stuff Up!: Finding the Upside to Life’s Downs.