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When Change Comes (And It Always Does)

When Change Comes (And It Always Does)
A Note From Shauna
Just after I turned forty, life as I knew it changed in about a thousand ways. I faced a series of losses—we left our church, our hometown, a circle of relationships that had buoyed me for decades. We moved from the suburbs of Chicago to Manhattan—new friends, new lifestyle, new schools for the kids. Also my body, it seemed, had lost its mind—early menopause, chronic pain and insomnia, long-Covid symptoms. Over and over during the writing process, I told my husband I wanted to throw my laptop into the Hudson—what on earth did I have to say to anyone about anything? I felt like I was barely staying afloat myself. But then I looked around and saw that we all were struggling to stay afloat. Struggling to come back to life after a global pandemic, or to manage the mayhem of midlife, or to sort out any of a million points of confusion that were leaving us weak at the knees. I kept going, kept writing, determined that while the night was admittedly dark and getting darker, by borrowing each other’s companionship, together we’d wait for dawn. I trusted the process, as they say, because I had no other choice.

I have no tidy conclusions to offer you, as you strike off on this five-week journey, you and your beloved people, digging in and going deep. But I do know this: With a daily practice of curiosity, courage, and self-compassion, w we’ll find our way through.

- Shauna
Shauna Niequist - Quote
Session 1
To center your thoughts on this session’s topic, have a group member read the following section aloud.
One of the reasons that change often feels so off-putting and upsetting is because it absolutely does knock us off our balance and upset the rhythms we have in place. Change takes in our well formed paradigms and scoffs. Change looks at our painstakingly curated preferences and rolls its eyes. Change acknowledges our carefully crafted processes and says, “Pffft. Who needs those?” It demotes us to rookie status, forcing us to begin all over again. And after a certain point in our maturity, who in the world wants that?
When Shauna and her family moved from their well-established lives in the Midwest to the hub of activity that is Manhattan, nothing was as it had been. Her home address changed. Her square footage changed. Her church community changed. Her modes of transportation changed. Things were different there. All the expertise she’d spent her adult years cultivating seemingly had no relevance in her new life. Which brought her to a question:
Who am I, here, now?
While you may not be undergoing change on the same mass scale that Shauna experienced three years ago, things in your life are most likely not as they once were. Your relationships might look different than they used to look. Your job may have radically shifted. Maybe your faith has shifted, too. The question that came to Shauna presents itself to you: Who are you amid these changes? Who are you, here, now?
In this opening session of the five-week experience, we’ll look at what it means to become a rookie again, either because we choose to do so or because life puts us onto a path against our will . . . the undeniable downside, and the upside you may never have considered before. Change comes to us all—there are no exceptions to that rule. We can clinch our fists and fume against it, or we can learn to become our next selves by facing change, by speaking what’s true, by letting what’s dead be dead, by surrendering to find our way through.
As you get going, invite group members to introduce themselves and briefly share their thoughts on the questions below.

Do you consider yourself to be someone who thrives in change, or someone who wilts and wobbles a little every time change happens?

Would those who know you agree with your response?

Watch the Session 1 video and use the prompts below to take notes.

Video Notes

● Full-on rookies

● “I guess I haven’t learned that yet”

● A change in posture and perspective

● When old things stop working

● How we make it through

● Summer all the time

● Let go, or be dragged


 Read each question aloud to usher in and encourage group discussion.

1. Shauna says her expertise centers on making restaurant recommendations, packing the perfect Trader Joe’s tote, and the ability to scrounge together dinner from a mishmash of
random leftovers. Now it’s your turn: What are you an expert in?

2. What was your reaction to the content in this session’s video? What thoughts or feelings rose to the surface as you took in all Shauna said about becoming a rookie again?

“The very real temptation during times of massive change is to try to stay where we’re an expert, where we know what to expect.” – Shauna (quote from video)

3. For Shauna and her husband, Aaron, the age when they assumed they would “have it all figured out” was thirty-five. As you came into adulthood, was there an age when you thought you’d possess the requisite wisdom to sort of coast through the rest of the years? What assumptions or experiences do you suppose informed that thinking?

4. As you survey the landscape of your life right now, where do you feel like you’re starting all over, as if you’re back to being a beginner, a rookie?

5. Based on your own “rookie” experiences, does it make sense to you that Shauna’s sons began to wonder if they were failing or falling behind as they started new schools in New York? Why or why not? Do you also tend to connect the feelings of being new with failing or falling behind?

6. What emotions do you experience as you sit with the phrase, “I guess I haven’t learned that yet”?

Why do you suppose our culture is hesitant to embrace not knowing? Why do we tend to elevate—even idolize—expertise?

“I guess I haven’t learned that yet.” I wrote that sentence because I wanted us to have a common language for what it means to be a learner, a beginner, to be curious and make mistakes and get back up. To ask questions and figure it out as we go.” – Shauna, p.8, I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet

7. In this session’s video, Shauna talked about recognizing during her season of full-scale change that the old ways of living life just wouldn’t work anymore. How do you relate to the idea that the ways that once served you well just aren’t helpful any longer?

Maybe you used to procrastinate until the last minute on critical projects, or stuff feelings down deep and power through your life, or throw caution to the wind with alcohol consumption, or avoid (necessary, useful) confrontation like it was the plague, or . . . or . . . or. You get the idea.

Spend a few minutes thinking on your own and then log your “old ways that are no longer helpful to me” below. Share one of your thoughts with your group and discuss why.

My old ways that are no longer helpful:

“The skills you picked up in previous seasons of change will get you through the tough season you’re in.” – Shauna (quote from video)


Select a volunteer to read the following passage aloud. Then move directly to the “Setting Your Intention” section.

Change is always at hand.
Changing me, changing everything.
Changing what I thought I knew for sure,
What I thought I was for sure.

It is here now, shining bright light on the old ways I thought
would last me a lifetime,
On the patterns and processes that served me so well.
On the life I loved, the ways I loved, the me that was doing okay.
I’m changing now, with the change. Still, I am doing okay.

And so I begin again.
That’s the posture I’d love to have now.
Beginner. Rookie. Novice. Newbie. Learner. Seeker. Open to
I’m open to all things new.

I’ve held it all together for so long.
Preserving, never letting it fall apart.
Something’s falling here, now. Maybe it’s all falling—I don’t
I’m ready to fall with it, ready to fall into—and in love with—the
next new version of me.

“There are things that remain, through lines I’ve held to like lifelines in this season of compounded change and chaos. Our marriage, my faith, my work as a writer, and my love for the table remain constant, although even those things have been refined— altered as a result of all the other altering. That’s how it works. The changes connect and cascade, and the only way through it, it seems to me, . . . is [to] keep moving forward, keep putting one foot
in front of the other.” – Shauna, p.11, I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet


Read to the group, and allow some time for quiet reflection and

To focus your attention on one objective for this coming week as we wrap up our time together, think about the discussion we just had. Answer the following question and if you feel comfortable, share your objective with the group and allow them to encourage you with accountability.

What do you hope to learn on the topic of staying open to times of great change? Select something from the list below or come up with your own.

I want to learn to . . .

• be an unashamed, unapologetic rookie, novice, learner.
• embrace change instead of always fighting it.
• feel at ease telling the truth of where I’m at to a family member or friend.
• Other _____________________________________________________


Encourage all participants to read Introduction and Chapter 5 in the I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet book and to engage in the “Solo Study” before your next group meeting.

Dive into the Solo Study for session 1 and the remaining sessions and pick up a copy of I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet Study Guide + Streaming from ChurchSource here!

We’d love to hear your thoughts. What did you think of this first lesson of I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet by Shauna Niequist?