33: Aaron Niequist | You’re Not Crazy & You’re Not Alone
We’ve been counting down the days for this one, guys. On today’s episode we’re talking with Aaron Niequist. If you’ve been listening to the show for a while, you’ve heard us rave about Aaron’s wife, Shauna’s book, Present over Perfect. Now, were definitely adding Aaron’s book to that list as well. It’s called, The Eternal Current, how a practice based faith can save us from drowning. Aaron has served as a leader at some of the most influential churches in the country including Mars Hill & Willow Creek.
We talk with Aaron about the highs and lows of his faith journey, from almost losing his faith entirely to finding a new, deeper way forward. Make sure you listen ALL the way to the end to hear some of the most helpful advice we’ve heard on how to love someone well through a crisis of faith. Wherever this finds you on your journey of faith, know that you’re not crazy and you’re not alone.
1. For our listeners who don’t know you yet, would you take a minute and tell us a little bit more about yourself, who you are and what you do.
2. Well, I’m just a little fired up about this book! The Eternal Current: How a Practice Based faith can save us from drowning. So, lets jump right into it! Tell our listeners what it’s about and how this journey into a practiced based faith began for you.
3. I love how you say, “The invitation is participation.” Not just belief about Him, but participation with Him, and you use this analogy of the river…. how we’re not made to be just studiers of the river, but full on swimmers. Tell us more about that.
4. How did Shauna initially respond to the shift that was happening in you? Did she see it coming? Feel the same? etc?
5. As a 4 & 7 on the Enneagram, what does that look like for you on this journey?
6. I love this part of the book when you say, “Increasingly, in this polarized time it can feel as if we have only two choices: give in or give up. We can turn off our hearts to just stay where we are, or we can break our hearts and walk away from faith entirely. But theses are terrible choices. And thankfully, they are not the only options.”
What is the 3rd way forward?
7. Include & Transcend?
5. So, you hit your crisis of faith, you discover the river, and you choose to jump in. You choose the new way forward. And then you realize, You need swimming lessons! You need some new tools. How did you learn to swim? What new tools did you discover?
6. Let’s get really practical, How do we move away from the shallows and begin to swim in the river? Maybe share one of the tools you’ve found to be the most transformational.
7. You say this plays out both in our own personal faith as well as together in our communities of faith. There are things we need to learn to do personally, but also things that can only happen when we come together in community. Give us an example of what you’re talking about.
8. I hope that everyone who listens today …. How do we keep the practices drawing us closer to God and not becoming just a mindless, passionless ritual?
9. We all have been there at one time or know someone who’s there right now… they’ve hit that wall and are ready to give up. How do we serve them well and point them to the river?
Questions we always ask:
– What’s a book that has changed your life?
– What discipline or habit that’s changed your life?
– What’s one piece of advice would you give to the younger you?
“The invitation is participation.”
“Jesus didn’t say, ‘Here is the truth, believe it.’ He said, ‘I am the truth. Follow me.’”
“ There is a great river flowing throughout all creation towards the restoration and redemption of all things.”
“Jesus didn’t say, ‘If you believe I’m correct, your house will stand.’ He said, ‘If you put these words into practice, when the storms of life come (and they always do) your house will stand.”
“ When we can join each other, not just give into the other, but see the goodness of the other, we are so much better people.”
“We can receive the gift of where we are and where we’ve been, but we don’t have to stay there. We can bring that gift into a bigger future.”
“When we’re moving from step to step, the easiest thing to do is hate the last step, but without step 3, there is no step 4. Step 3 is a gift to the future.”
“Are there things we need to let go of? Absolutely. There are some things that are toxic, unhelpful, and need to be let go of. But the idea of either or: Either my tradition was the only right way or it was only terrible people lying, is just not true.”
“Centering prayer was unbelievably transformative. It opened up space with Christ to experience him in a way I never had before.”
“Centering prayer is a very simple way to get out of the pressure to have to have words and thoughts for everything, but to create the silence and space for God to do what only God can do.”
“There’s something powerful that can happen when we listen.”
“Desperation can be the greatest gift.”
“I was just wanting to serve a more well balanced meal every Sunday during worship.”
“As human beings, what do we do when our hearts get broken?”
“We have to learn how to weep.”
“We began praying a blessing on our enemies. . . And it was both terrible and utterly transformative… I mean, who did we become, 52 weeks in a row, naming an enemy and choosing to bless them?”
“We are already invited into the river because God is good. There is no way to earn our way in. We are invited. Jesus says come.”
“ I don’t care who you are, you can’t make a plant grow, but you better believe your actions as a gardener create the space for it to grow in a healthy way.”
“ All life is from God, we’re either opening our hands to receive it or closing ourselves off from it.”
The Prayer of Examen:
1. Invite the Spirit to lead us
2. Review the day with thanksgiving
3. Notice the emotions
4. Hold those emotions before God. & ask Him to speak into them
5. Looking forward to the future with hope. What did I learn that can launch me into tomorrow?
“Very often the death were experiencing is the only way to the new life that God is trying to bring.”
“ So, if we try to stop the death, we are stopping the new life. So how dare we get in the way of what God is doing because it makes us feel uncomfortable.”
Worldly sorrow was Judas, and he went out and hung himself. Godly sorrow was Peter, and he wept bitterly. and Jesus built the church on Him.”
“The most freeing thing our friends can see is their friends being free. So as we find deeper joy, we don’t have to convince them of anything. We just share in the joy with them.”
“ May we be people who remind each other, ‘You’re not crazy, and you’re not alone.”
LIFE CHANGING BOOK:
LIFE CHANGING HABIT:
ADVICE TO THE YOUNGER YOU:
Be a lot kinder to yourself.
CONNECT WITH AARON:
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