By: Laura Bennett

Sometimes in life change is gradual, and at other times it comes all at once in profound measure.

For years, New York Times bestselling author Shauna Niequist has laid her life as a woman, wife, mum and follower of Jesus bare for readers who crave an honest reflection on the highs and lows they involve.

Recently all those areas of life have shifted for Shauna, most notably after her father Bill Hybels, former senior pastor and founder of Illinois-based Willow Creek Community Church, was accused and found guilty of ongoing sexual misconduct.

In a lengthy Instagram post in February last year, Shauna publicly addressed the scandal for the first time saying, “For too long, I’ve been trying to find the words to write about my dad and our church”.

“That season shook me to the core, and I shut down. While I fought to regain my footing, [the pain] pushed me further into retreat. I’m not proud of that,” she said.

In her latest book, I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet, Shauna passes on the philosophy of a phrase that became an anchoring point for her and her family as they completely uprooted the familiar life they’d loved and embarked on a new and scary one that would, ultimately, be more fulfilling.

“It was the shift from being experts to celebrating the process of being learners,” ~ Shauna Niequist

Shauna said, “We were all four of us excited about [the move] for different reasons, but moving is really hard”.

Facing adjustments around school, work and the culture of the city, “we decided [as a family] that everyday we’d talk about something we didn’t know yet, as a way of taking the pressure off getting it right and knowing it all already,” Shauna said.

“It was the shift from being experts to celebrating the process of being learners.”

The Myth of Control – Adapting to Life’s Changes

Like all of us throughout the pandemic, Shauna confronted the “myth of control” and had to quickly adapt to a version of life she hadn’t anticipated.

“There are these ideas you have about how your life is going to go [but] I think our lives are a little bit less in our control than we think,” Shauna said.

“A lot of us haven’t really had to grapple with that until the last couple of years, when all of our experiences were put on hold.”

Part of what this season of transition has involved for Shauna, is a new appreciation for the fundamental elements of her faith.

“It took me a while to realise, that just like there are seasons in your marriage, and seasons in your friendships and your creative life, there are seasons in your spiritual life,” Shauna said.

“Sometimes it can be very much just about that central relationship: you and God and your prayers and your walking together.

“Then there are other season that are very much about what you’re building in the community.

“This [season] is one that’s been a lot more solitary.

“And it wasn’t an easy transition, but I’m really thankful for that deep sense of connection [with God] that buoyed me through a difficult season,” she said.

I Guess I Haven't Learned That Yet by NY Times bestselling author Shauna Niequist

Source: Shauna Niequist Facebook

When we are faced with change, it’s not only our physical situation that may be altered, but oftentimes our sense of who we are and where we fit in life.

As daunting as that might seem, Shauna believes embracing the reinvention of our identity can be liberating.

“I think it’s tempting when you’re going through a big change, a big identity shift, to cling on to what you’ve always been”, Shauna said.

“I think there’s something really brave and really transformative about letting yourself have a season where you say, ‘I don’t know who I am right now, and that’s OK’.”

“One of the major distractions of my life for several years was the picture I had of how it was supposed to be and how everyone else was doing it,” Shauna said.

“When that all got sort of blown out of the water the last couple of years, I felt this tremendous freedom to start thinking about, ‘What do I want for my life? What do I love?’

“I spent so many years trying to measure up to some idea [of success] and now I look at all those metrics and I go, ‘Oh. Nobody cares’.

“What matters is how we feel about the choices we’ve made, the lives we’ve built: do our values match our lives?”

“What matters is how we feel about the choices we’ve made, the lives we’ve built: do our values match our lives?”

Shauna’s book, I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet is out now.

Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.

About the Author: Laura is a media professional, broadcaster and writer from Sydney, Australia.

Feature image:  from Shauna Niequist Facebook