The past 8 weeks have been a journey. When the opportunity to review Jennie Allen’s Restless study came to me I quickly jumped at the opportunity having enjoyed Stuck, Chase, & Anything previously. What I hadn’t anticipated is how perfectly this study would go with my current season of life and with the lives of the girls that would study alongside me. I had planned to read and review the study on my own but when the package arrived and I read the back of the box I already knew it was too good not to share. I knew that studying in a community of women would give me a better chance of walking away different.
I work at a church and there are three gals close to my age who work alongside me so I asked them if they would want to do a lunchtime bible study for eight weeks. I sent them the description of the study and I added ‘no pressure’ but they quickly responded ‘we’re in’. As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one feeling a little restless. We started a lunch club on Thursdays and for 8 weeks we would pack our lunches, meet in an empty classroom, and study Restless together. From time to time I would pass a cubicle and see the book out, open to homework. Other weeks one of the girls would stop by mine and share what she was learning throughout the week or further processing from our last week’s meeting. Every week as Thursday rolled around I would walk into that classroom excited.
Jennie Allen has truly done it again. Written a thought provoking, life-changing study. Her videos are simple, real, and heart-warmingly authentic. I loved the addition of her friends and their thoughts in the videos – this was unique to this study, before the videos have only included Jennie. Week after week we would come in with our homework and by the time we watched the video we’d want to do it all again with new eyes.
For four friends and church workers, this study made us come alive. It made us put aside anxiety and be restless for more of God’s plans and will in our lives. It made us address our fears, it made us (at least me) let go of the things that were hindering us or making us restless in the wrong ways, and it made us pursue Him. Most of all it built a community among us that we hope will continue even after this study.
The Restless study comes with a DVD of messages by Jennie, with input from her friends. It includes a leader’s guide with great material that I hope my department (Small Groups) will use for other studies as well. Also included was a study guide that I poured my heart into. Normally not a fan of ‘homework’ in studies other than just reading – I will confess here I finished the book 3 weeks before we finished studying because I couldn’t stop doing the activities and the writing. Finally there was a set of conversation cards that could be used to facilitate our discussion. They’re great, I’ve read through them, but truth be told we rarely got to them. Our time would be up before we could share all that was already on our minds and in our hearts related to our study and homework. We were never hurting for topics, we were often sad when our time was up and we had to return to work.
I am most grateful that as I finish this study I am looking at the painful and the mundane in my life in a whole new way. As Jennie says, ‘I want to see many moment that will last forever, many moments when I sat in boring or painful places that I preached anyway’. This is my challenge to myself as I leave the Restless study and my challenge to you if you haven’t read this yet is to pick up a copy of the book or better still, take a group of women through it with you. You’ll need them, you’ll learn from them, and you’ll grow together.