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Ten Steps to Your Best Life author Q&A

Andy Whisenant | Oct 25th

Why did you write this book? What inspired you to write it?

I wrote this book because the last 18 months or so have felt like waves of one storm after another pounding against the shores of our souls. And with each storm, stuff got stirred up, our lives seemed to be turned upside down and shaken relentlessly. It has been a season that took immeasurably more than it gave.

I wrote this book because all the self-help in the world won’t solve what we have lost. We need the Savior’s help to reimagine an abundant vision for the future. When Jesus walked along the seashore of our lives and said, “Come follow me”; he was communicating something profound and simple: the world may be a pretty messed up place, but I know the way through it…in fact, I AM the way through it.

For whom did you write this book?

For those who are tired of temporary, and ineffective, solutions; and want to discover that their “best life” is fulfilling the idea of who God wants us to be. This is a book for those who are worn out and want to respond to the invitation of Jesus:

Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28–30) The very invitation of Jesus means it’s okay to not be okay, but it also means that we get to keep company with and learn from Jesus. And with Jesus, we discover the best life a human could ever be graced to experience.

The title of this book is “Ten Steps to Your Best Life.” What do you mean by “Your Best Life”?

What I mean by “your best life”, is a sacred simplicity that allows us to breathe without fear of judgment or condemnation. A life that sees God as so much more than a life preserver to the drowning. A life that acknowledges God has rescued us, but that’s just the beginning of the story, not the end.

I know this will sound naïve or crazy, but there is a life to be discovered in the ashes of the pandemic, and it’s better than we could have ever imagined. This isn’t a book filled with fancy words intended to impress; it is a sacred and straightforward strategy meant to move past the blue tarp phase of life and discover something new. Truth be told, I think God sometimes looks on and chuckles at our lofty attempts at expressing our spirituality. Much like a parent watching a child recite a speech with big words, he smiles and is patient as we clumsily reach for the top-shelf ideas. 

Why is it necessary for individuals to reimagine and reconstruct their future? How can they make that shift from passive to active?

We need to reimagine and reconstruct our future in order to do more than survive this time. We must go through a process designed to strip us down to the most organic version of self and then strive for a version of ourselves alive with purpose and possibility.

There is a rhythm by which we are meant to live. It got lost long ago, and no algorithm on its best day can rediscover it. To do so, we must return to the words spoken by that renegade rabbi from Nazareth who taught, preached, and lived in such a magnetic manner for all generations to come. He knew we would be here standing in our front yards, overwhelmed by all that COVID-19 destroyed. He knew how we would feel and all the dark scenarios that would dance through our imaginations about the future. And so, he whispers down through the ages:

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. ” (Matt. 11:28–30) We must come to him and cast our cares.

In the beginning of the book, you talked about blue tarps. Explain this illustration and how it applies to post-pandemic life.

The pandemic of 20/21 felt like waves of one storm after another pounding against the shores of our souls, and leaving behind a sea of “blue tarps” that act as temporary fixes. The storm has begun to subside, but blue tarps are still everywhere to be found. Since the pandemonium of the pandemic had dissipated, there was a desire to recapture what was once lost. Like a gravitational pull for moons orbiting a planet, our souls seemed to draw to the excess and comfort of days gone by. It is human nature to imagine the good old days to be better than they actually were and remember the bad days darker. As a species, we are prone to exaggeration. The challenge, however, isn’t to regain a mythical and fantastical version of the past. Instead, it is to reimagine an abundant vision for the future. 

Jesus isn’t waiting for just the right time when you have repaired everything under the blue tarp covering your life. The thing about blue tarps is that there isn’t anything impressive about them, and there isn’t anything one can do to dress them up. It’s a big giant Band-Aid whose plastic veneer screams, “There is a lot that’s broken under here!” Jesus wants you and all the pain, mistakes, regret, unhealthy, loneliness, and anything else you’ve been covering up.

The very invitation of Jesus means it’s okay to not be okay . . .

But it also means that we get to keep company with and learn from Jesus.

And with Jesus, we discover the best life a human could ever be graced to experience.

Talk about your own experience adjusting to life after the pandemic. How did you lean on the wisdom of God to create a new normal?

It’s amazing that no matter how good or difficult the circumstances of life may be, the Bible is always a lamp unto our feet. As my family and I are emerging from the long dark winter that is COVID-19, we are striving every day to follow the teachings of the ancient Rabbi who turned out to be the Savior of the world. When all is said and done, the only way through any circumstance is to stay in the shadow of Jesus, whom you are following closely. We’ve discovered, and are discovering more everyday, that walking with Jesus leads us to choosing love, study the scriptures and practice the teachings. The more we practice living out what Jesus has taught, the more we understand what it means to live by faith.

As someone who spends most of your time working with students, what can young people in particular learn from this book?

I believe the message of this book will resonate deeply with Gen Z primarily because this is a generation that longs to stay connected and give themselves over to something that matters. This is a generation that is committed. Therefore this book resonates with the mindset of someone who is looking for answers that will last a lifetime. 

How does this book help Christians persevere and live well in this difficult time of transition?

Ten Steps provides Christians with a road map to construct a paradigm for living that is purpose filled and practical. The strength of this book is that it is NOT based on theory, or theoretical ideas. Rather it is a sacred scope and sequence for navigating uncertainty and difficulty. 

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

It was C. S. Lewis who said, “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” My hope has been to simply remind us of ideas that may have gotten lost in the debris left behind by the hurricanes of the pandemic. Or maybe these are instructions that were lost somewhere along the way between “what the heck is happening” and “how in the world will I ever recover!” I am also optimistic that a longing will be stirred within each of us in being reminded of these truths and not a longing for what once was, but a longing for what could be. You see, when we rediscover the life God has promised to us, our imaginations begin to fly beyond the stars with hope and possibility.