concert postponed

concert postponed

March 13, 2020

Sunday's concert has been postponed until the fall. New date TBA...

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two battles

two battles

March 12, 2020

I think it would be a very helpful thing for us to recognize two related-but- separate battles we're fighting right now as a culture: one is against sickness and death; the other is against Fear, or more specifically, against certain unhealthy reactions to Fear, which also lead to death.

These two issues, both of which can be considered to be at a "pandemic" level, are causing two separate sets of destruction. Both have the potential to wipe out a lot of beautiful life in our world.

We have to fight both of these battles.

Differentiating between the two enemies -- clarifying which enemy we're fighting at a given moment -- will help us fight with a clear mind, and ultimately will lead to health and life and growth.

The habits we learn to change during this time, regarding sickness AND regarding Fear, will serve us for a very long time, if we engage both enemies intentionally.

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Eden Tour

Eden Tour

March 11, 2020

![](https://66.media.tumblr.com/99f74f0e4838f92507210e00f2f4b3b5 /d84226f2a98a759a-6c/s640x960/e18c32a776abac814560891a49177a0eb604ad50.jpg)

Sunday March 15 in Peoria (Metamora) IL ♥️

Tickets: <https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-eden-tour-audrey-assad-and-page- cxvi-w-nathan-peterson-tickets-89599391191>

The Eden Tour / Audrey Assad and Page CXVI w/ Nathan Peterson

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Peoria Women's Club concert

Peoria Women's Club concert

February 26, 2020

Thanks to so many friends who came out, and to Peoria Women's Club - PWC for hosting me, Heather, and DPCD on Saturday. This concert was especially meaningful as it was Heather's debut as a songwriter. It was SO good to receive the wonderful music of my brother-in-law, Alec. And, for my part, I SO MUCH enjoyed playing and sharing. This was one of the most enjoyable concerts of my life, and I'm still feeling a full heart from the night. ♥️ It's good to be reminded why you're doing something. I'm often aware of the cost I've paid, and my family has paid, and our community has paid, for me to pursue my career and calling as a writer and a musician. Saturday, for me, was a taste of the fruit that is beginning to grow from 20 years of planting and tending and caring. Nothing worth doing is without cost. The combination of spending time in that building and listening to the music coming from Heather and Alec reminded me about the importance of musicians and artists. As I look back at our history, I see a lot of important roles played by many courageous people. But there is a leadership role we tend to overlook, played by artists. We tend to attribute cultural change to presidents and politicians, but the reality is that presidents and politicians are appointed by us — they are going to take us where we ask them to take us. If they don't, we'll elect someone else next time. In other words, we are ultimately responsible for our direction, not anyone else, not even presidents. But artists, true artists... they receive their direction from somewhere else. We all have this Voice inside. This Voice leads us toward life, meaning, healing, wholeness. This Voice leads to who we are — as individuals, and as a culture. We all have this Voice inside. But artists are wired to hear in a way most others cannot, and to articulate what they hear in a way most others cannot. Artists, true artists, aren't able not to hear this Voice. It would take them considerable effort to ignore the need to articulate what they hear when they do hear this Voice. Artists do this regardless... Regardless of compensation (or lack of compensation). Regardless of affirmation. Regardless of criticism. Regardless of persecution. Regardless of all obstacles, an artist travels a path most others lack the sensitivity and the courage to travel. They travel it over, and over, and over, leaving in their wake a path which the rest of their community can now use as well. Then the culture begins to grow. But the artist goes first. This is leadership. As I look back at our history, at the most significant and meaningful changes — changes which have led to growth and life and wholeness — I see, at the very front of the line, artists. I say all of this without much of an agenda. If I try to conclude by saying that we should pay more attention to artists or to resource them more, nothing will happen. But, thankfully, artists don't require these things to do their work. So I say all of this only to affirm other artists: Your work matters more than you know. You are a crucial leader. By giving yourself time and space and permission to find and share your Voice, you are leading a culture of people who have all but lost theirs, and who, I believe, are desperate to find their Voice again. Take courage, leader. Keep going.

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See u Saturday Peoria!

See u Saturday Peoria!

February 20, 2020

See u Saturday in Peoria ♥️ http://bit.ly/222peoria

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special announcement!

special announcement!

February 15, 2020

Today we are announcing a very special concert for Saturday, February 22nd, by not only me, but by my wife Heather (her debut songwriter performance!) and my brother-in-law Alec (sharing his second album release as DPCD).

Not only is the line-up special, but for my own part, I will be sharing some brand new songs and also revisiting some of my songs from pre-Olivia -- bringing, in a way, my most whole Self to the table.

Not only are the songs special, but the location… the LOCATION!!! The historic Peoria Women's Club - PWC Building and Music Hall. We're bringing this concert to you in one of Peoria's most amazing spaces. I walked through for the first time last week and was so inspired. I'm almost as excited to bring you into this space as I am to bring you into this… space.

And that's the thing. This music, these musicians, this building, this night is an invitation into a space that is so very special on so many levels.

Please buy tickets today, and bring whoever you can. This is something we may never repeat quite the same again and you will want to be there. And we want you there. ♥️

Tickets are on sale today for $15. See you next Saturday at 7!

DPCD / Nathan Peterson / Heather Peterson

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half a MILLION!!!

half a MILLION!!!

January 8, 2020

Half a MILLION streams on SoundCloud!

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Deflecting Love

Deflecting Love

January 6, 2020

Deflecting affection and appreciation — love — in the name of loving others or loving God only diminishes love’s power.

By failing to model and practice our own receptivity to love, we not only starve ourselves of love, but we teach others to do the same.

We've stopped up the flow.

If I want to give love to others and to God, I must first learn to receive it — to allow love to flow in... then I can allow it to flow through and out.

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about hope

about hope

December 26, 2019

about hope

Once in a while, I feel a rush of hope flood my heart. For a moment, everything is possible, I am safe, I feel excited. The next moment, it's gone and I'm left wondering how I could have been so naive.

My sense about this once-per-week or so experience of mine is changing.

I used to think this rush of hope was coming out of nowhere, then disappearing into nowhere, like a mirage. Unattainable. Uncontrollable. Undependable.

This morning I had "the rush" of hope. I decided to write before it went away, so it is still lingering now. In a moment, it may be gone. But, from inside the rush of hope, I have a different perspective to share.

To my future self and to anyone else who is reading and has had this experience:

This hope is not a mirage. My sense in this moment is that the rush of hope is let in, maybe as a result of letting my guard down -- that there is a raging, rushing, endless source of hope and possibility and power flowing around me, looking for a way in the way water looks for ways in. It doesn't go away; I find the hole in my defenses and plug it. I am the barrier. I am the dam. Or, I create it. As a defense.

I may have let this hope in by accident this time. But what is to say I can't choose to let it in in the future? What is to say I can't learn to let down the barrier?

This is a muscle, a discipline, I want to develop. Not the art of simply "thinking positive," but the courage to let go and receive what is already surrounding me.

I can already feel the mirage disappearing as I write this. I'm wondering if I should even share these thoughts. I feel a little stupid. And my defenses have been re-built...

My sense about this once-per-week or so experience of mine is changing.

I used to think this rush of hope was coming out of nowhere, then disappearing into nowhere, like a mirage. Unattainable. Uncontrollable. Undependable.

This morning I had "the rush" of hope. I decided to write before it went away, so it is still lingering now. In a moment, it may be gone. But, from inside the rush of hope, I have a different perspective to share.

To my future self and to anyone else who is reading and has had this experience:

This hope is not a mirage. My sense in this moment is that the rush of hope is let in, maybe as a result of letting my guard down -- that there is a raging, rushing, endless source of hope and possibility and power flowing around me, looking for a way in the way water looks for ways in. It doesn't go away; I find the hole in my defenses and plug it. I am the barrier. I am the dam. Or, I create it. As a defense.

I may have let this hope in by accident this time. But what us to say I can't choose to let it down in the future? What is to say I can't learn to let down the barrier?

This is a muscle -- a discipline -- I want to develop. Not the art of simply "thinking positive," but the courage to let go and receive what is already surrounding me.

I can already feel the mirage disappearing as I write this. I'm wondering if I should even share these thoughts. I feel a little stupid. And my defenses have been re-built...

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it isn't linear

it isn't linear

December 6, 2019

I'm sitting on the back porch, the room in which Olivia took her final breath, the room where I last saw her alive. I'm feeling the warm sun against my face. I'm hearing Heather practice piano in the next room. Slowly, music, ideas, and even hope have begun to rise from the ashes of the past several years. It isn't at all linear. Some days I feel we are emerging, alive, up from the ashes. Other days, I feel we are almost dead. I honestly can't tell if we're at the end or the beginning of the story. Maybe it's that truly living and dying feel the same. In a way, that makes a lot of sense to me.

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Redefining “Spiritual Leadership"

Redefining “Spiritual Leadership"

October 16, 2019

Spiritual Leadership is a topic which feels so important to me lately. I'm not only referring to leadership within the Church... Spiritual Leadership is crucial for our entire culture. We need it in our city as much as we do in our church, but only if it is true leadership, and that brings me back to the definition of "Spiritual Leadership." It's gone off-course. We have to redefine it. ## What it's not Spiritually-oriented product marketing and promotion — creating a product or brand or culture, promoting it to "outsiders" in exchange for their support in expanding its development and reach, and gauging "success" based on customer satisfaction (do people like it? are more people buying in?)... This is not Spiritual Leadership. Spiritual Leadership cannot be mass-produced. It cannot be easily documented and reproduced. This is not Spiritual Leadership. It's production, promotion, marketing, focus groups... it’s business. There's nothing wrong with business, but it's not a great way to lead a community or a culture. ## What is Spiritual Leadership? Spiritual Leadership is where someone who is part of a community or a culture accepts the responsibility to look around and ask two questions: (1) Who is here? (2) What can I do to support who is here in becoming even more of who they are? That's it. ## Who is here? This is the antithesis of telling people who they are. Telling people who they are is easier, but not helpful. There is only one place someone's true identity can be uncovered, and that is at their Center. The only human equipped to travel to this place is the individual. The only way to support someone in traveling to this place is to help them discover who they are. This is a lifelong process and is a picture of the spiritual life — to emerge more and more fully, wholly me. To be who and what I am. What could be more spiritual than that? If we are telling others who they are, not only are we not leading them spiritually, but we are blocking or slowing them on their journey. Asking who is here? is difficult, but it takes pressure off of us as leaders. It's not our work to show someone else who they are. We can only do that for our Self. ## What can I do to support? This is the question then. How does it look to support someone spiritually? I recently had a conversation with someone about this, and after the above point (asking who is here?) he pointed out how impossible it would be to lead a thousand people in a thousand different directions. I totally disagree. Not only is it possible, but it is the only way to call what we are doing "Spiritual Leadership." Spiritual Leadership is leading a thousand people — or a million — in that many different directions at the same time. And the reason this is not impossible is because the responsibility to do the work is on the shoulders of each individual. In our fear of losing control or losing a way to measure our success, we can settle for leading a thousand people in only a single direction. But if trust and confidence (faith) are the basis of our relationship with others, and the basis for our posture as leaders, we are free to lead individuals to their own Center... by showing them how, and trusting them to do it. ## Lead By definition, a leader goes first. Spiritual Leadership is someone being the first to walk their own spiritual path, sharing what they find with their community, and having confidence in their community to do the same when they are ready. But what if I do this and no one follows? RIGHT. That's the thing about being a leader. If we're not constantly plagued by this question, we're probably not leading. Going first doesn't guarantee anyone will follow, but not going first ensures no one will. Someone always has to go first. Not everyone will follow, but chances are that some will — the ones who are ready — and even if no one does, you did your part. That's leadership. ## Leader or manager? Confusion between leadership and management is hurting us as a culture. We must clarify which is which, valuing each for what it is. MUCH of what we call "leadership" is really management. Many organizations and communities don't actually have a single leader — only managers, managing things. I believe many people in our culture today are waiting for someone to lead them on their spiritual path. They're ready to do the work, but they need support — they need someone to at least get the path started for them. If this is you, please clarify whether you’re following a leader or a manager. If you’re following someone who is telling you who you are, asking you to spend your best energy promoting their product, or is not actively modeling what it looks like to personally walk their own path, you are following a manager, and you are going nowhere. It may be painful, but it’s time to take the responsibility for being who you are back onto your own shoulders. If a leader exists who can help you to do that — not offer to take the load off your shoulders but remind you that you have the strength to carry it — partner with them. ## To the leaders I believe some of us are cut out to lead like this: to go first, to have confidence in others, to have confidence in ourselves, to trust the process, to be lonely at times but also hopeful, to make a path where there is no path (but should be). I am one of these, and some of you know that you are too. It’s time for us to go first.

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our strength

our strength

October 5, 2019

our strength

When we wake up in the morning and Fear already has a hold around our neck, we can choose to take a step to the side of the problems filling our view. Then we can ask a question like, "what do I need right now?" We can choose to be gentle and caring with ourselves. We can take 30 minutes to exercise, or stretch, or drink a coffee and enjoy the taste. We can choose to breathe. This is the breath Fear was trying to take from us when we awoke.

The problem moments ago wasn't the circumstances filling our view. The problem was our perspective. No need to feel bad about that -- Fear just got up a little earlier than we did today. But now that we have our perspective back -- now that we're breathing again -- we can choose to see the whole picture. And while Fear hasn't gone anywhere, and while our circumstances haven't changed, our strength is there, and it is sufficient.

We are stronger than we realize. We just need to know where our strength comes from.

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Adulthood

Adulthood

October 4, 2019

Somewhere along the line, the people I see as adults have become the same age, or younger, than I am! I still see myself as a child and them as adults, and I'm always surprised when I remember that I am one of them. This brings me to an interesting conclusion, from my new adult-insider perspective: The adults have no idea what they're doing... they never have. This takes some pressure off of me to know what I'm doing as an adult. But it leads to a new pressure: not to know what I'm doing — I don't — but to pretend that I do. Pretending to know what you're doing takes a lot of energy. And I'm not willing to give my energy to pretending. So this leads to a new challenge: I must be willing to walk through life with the nagging feeling that I am the only one who has no idea what he is doing. It's challenging, but it also presents a great opportunity. If I am willing to be honest about my not–knowing, I will lead those around me toward a more genuine expression of adulthood — one where we carry the huge responsibility of adulthood while not having any idea how. This type of adulthood doesn't require us to know; it requires us to trust. Faith and hope — not knowing what you're doing — are the defining characteristics of a mature adult. What an amazing difference embracing this type of adulthood will make for us and our culture... especially for the kids are growing up now and looking to us to see what it means to be an adult.

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There are a lot of things I want

There are a lot of things I want

October 2, 2019

There are a lot of things I want. But when I'm in the middle of a difficult yoga pose and my body is stretching and strengthening and breathing, I remember I have everything I want the most already.

There are a lot of things I would like to buy. But when I'm in the middle of a line of a song and I know I've just captured a moment so beautiful and honest, and because it's recorded I'm going to get to share it with my world, I remember I have everything I want the most already.

There are things I wish I had. But when my child sees me enter the room and I can see them physically excited to be with me, I remember I have everything I want the most already.

There are things I wish I could have. But when my wife and I lock eyes and share an understanding which is so far beyond words but can only be formed over 18 years of life together, I remember I have everything I want the most already.

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a way forward which is nutritive

a way forward which is nutritive

August 16, 2019

A friend of mine often asks me to look for "a way forward which is nutritive" to me. A way to tell if something feels "nutritive" is if, when you envision it, it feels good in your body -- your body lets you know, even when your mind won't (or can't).

This is different than my typical black and white thinking that anything helpful to others depletes me, and anything nutritive to me depletes someone else.

There are ways forward which can be helpful to others and nutritive to me. It just takes a little work to find them, and more than work, it takes trust -- learning to trust our intuition, what we hear deep in our center.

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New website!

New website!

August 7, 2019

So... today I’m announcing my new website. I haven’t “announced a new website” in a while, and I feel a little silly doing so, but I can feel that sharing this is part of my learning to walk again. You’ll notice my albums, books, and concerts, but I’ve added a couple of other things I’m beginning to explore: workshops, private coaching, and speaking. At first, I was afraid to offer these things because I don’t want to take away energy from my music and writing work. But I’m realizing two things: (1) I’m beginning to have more energy than I’ve had the past several years — maybe ever (I’ll explain that below), and (2) these are just ways for me to pass on what I’m learning, and I’ve always felt that I haven’t learned something completely until I’ve passed it on — so it is a way for me to support others in their work, but it is also good for me, and those two thoughts have eased my fear. http://nathanpeterson.net On the extra energy: I’m learning the importance of finding ways forward which are nutritive for me. By “nutritive” I mean that it actually feels good to me, emotionally and physically, as I do it. Years ago, I would have felt that is a selfish way to make decisions; now I feel it is the only way to be truly generous, because as much as I would like to ignore my body’s signals and give even when it hurts me, my whole Self will never fully agree, and even though my giving costs me much, I won’t be giving nearly as much as I could if I was giving my whole Self. In order to give my whole Self to others, I have to find a way to give which is nutritive — which actually feels good emotionally and physically — to me. That is not only generous to others, but it is generous to myself. And that leads to a very interesting — potentially life-changing — realization: If I want to live a generous life toward others, I must first begin to be generous toward myself. Such a beautiful and freeing thought.

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this Sunday night — Practice

this Sunday night — Practice

August 2, 2019

Please join me this Sunday night, in one of my favorite spaces in Peoria, for Practice.

Practice is an hour of music interwoven with an exploration of what is alive in us and around us. It is a space to practice being and receiving the healing and courage that come from a posture of rest.

Couple of details:

  1. No need to dress up -- wear something comfy like sweats if you want.
  2. This is not a church service. It will compliment church, but is equally relevant for someone who does not attend at all. For anyone of any faith.
  3. There is no set cost, but you may contribute if you want to -- in person or online.

Hope to see you Sunday night at 7pm!

Location: 3300 W Willow Knolls Dr, Peoria, IL

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quarter of a million!

quarter of a million!

July 29, 2019

![](https://66.media.tumblr.com/8b66cd6cf2f690a203a29bd45bfc50f5 /8dc3c363cf66177d-3c/s640x960/6696e8a82fd25273d05fbc9733ba3457f47a195a.png)

Today I celebrate a huge mile marker: since November, my songs have been streamed over a quarter-MILLION times!

MILLION! I can't believe I can use that word -- quarter or not -- in relation to my music. Wow.

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Replacing panic with play

Replacing panic with play

May 19, 2019

This is one of the most vivid (to me) pictures of what it is to be restored—whole. It may not be something we can decide to do on command ("I'm going to play instead of panic right now"), but there are things we can do to restore the foundation needed for play: trust. confidence. rest. Are there ways today that I can cultivate my own trust, confidence, rest? Are there habits I am allowing which do the opposite?

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Finding Church

Finding Church

April 19, 2019

When Heather and I took a break from “going to church”, we instead took our kids to parks: we walked, breathed, and tried to remember what it was like to just be, and be together. It was a deeply spiritual, meaningful, healing time for us. Many of our friends and family were concerned. They set up coffees and conversations with us about why we’d stopped “going to church.” I felt like we became a problem to be solved—we were “lost”—and I thought: “What are you trying to restore for us? Will it make you happy to know that we go listen to a 20 minute sermon and sing 4 songs once per week? Will that mean we’re ‘saved’ again? Will that make us 'Christian' again?" Our culture's definition of spiritual health is backward. The "saved" among us are lost. Many of our "lost" are simply looking for their way back to a real, honest path—they are the brave ones... they are closer to salvation than the masses who have forfeited their beautifully unique Self and calling for a weekly dose of spiritually-oriented information. Can meaningful things happen at church services? Yes, of course. But it is not a result of the program—it is always a result of an individual deciding to share their true self with another (being together), which can happen at a church service... or a dinner, or a concert, or in a park. There is a big looming object obstructing our spiritual perspective: the object is our mindset. It is time for our mindset to change. It is time for us to stop going and accept our responsibility to be. Human beings. When my being* and your being meet—when we are being together—we will find Church again.

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An open letter to the Church

An open letter to the Church

April 1, 2019

Re: the direction and future the Church

  • It is time for the people who are the Church to take responsibility for being the Church.
  • It is time for the leaders in the Church to gently guide the people in this direction.
  • The next step for my church community—and the rest of the Church—is to begin walking the narrow path, which leads into pain but also into hope, and ultimately towards Self and to Christ, who dwells at the center of each person.
  • The Temple is at the center of each person. As leaders of the Church it is our responsibility to gently guide people's attention off of the stage and toward the Temple.
  • As leaders in the Church, if we are to help people find and follow Christ, we must be consistently traveling inwards, toward the pain, the hope, the grief, the fear, the longing, the guilt, toward our true self, our center, toward the dwelling place of Christ.
  • No one can tell a church community who they are—that is the responsibility of the individuals who that community consists of, and that is a life-long process of discovery and of healing. This is the process which the Holy Spirit is leading each person through. It is life.
  • Multi-site, and all other stylistic decisions about "doing church" must become subservient to "being Church." Practically, this means allowing multi-site to happen naturally as a necessity, not as an intended outcome or goal. Nothing the Church does should precede who the Church is.
  • The next step for the Church is for the individuals who it consists of (not only staff or people on stage, but every single person who is part of the community) to find their own unique Voice—to take a journey of self-discovery and to cooperate with the healing the Spirit brings on this journey as each individual becomes more fully who they are—a healed, whole version of themselves.
  • The Church’s "success" cannot be measured by the number of attendees on weekends. Success is when the individuals who do attend grow whole and healthy enough to walk, run, fly with the wings and power they are given.
  • When this new definition of success takes its place, the entity of individual church organizations will become de-emphasized and possibly even less necessary. Church organizations will become less of an entity in and of itself as thousands of individual humans—whole, healed entities—emerge.
  • The definition of "Church" will change from something to call a given church organization—with its staff, programs, and building(s)—and will instead refer to the type of person who is outlined above. This will blur the lines between entities like Richwoods, Northwoods, Riverside, as those entities will be far too limited to contain what the real Church has become: an army of free people, of whole, integrated people, of healed people—temples of the Living God.
  • As the Church begins to take responsibility for being the Church, its leaders will work to remove all unnecessary baggage associated to what used to be identified as "church" and will work to gently continue to lead the individuals who are the Church on their journey, to face fears, feel pains, discover hope, find healing and strength, and to see the face of Jesus, who dwells at the center of each individual.
  • A Church leader will not be someone who executes or oversees programs, but instead will be someone who travels the narrow path first, then gently comes back to help the rest of the Church—Christian, non-Christian, anyone who is willing—down the same path in their own life.
  • The path our leaders must lead the Church down is unique to each member of the body. This means a large amount of responsibility to know "where we are going" is removed from Church leadership and is placed on each individual who the Church consists of. This also means a large amount of trust on the part of the leadership—trust in the individual to have the "map" somewhere within them, and trust in the Spirit to ultimately be the one who provides the direction, the answers, and the outcomes.
  • As emphasis moves from the church organization and its staff and leadership, the Church begins to integrate in a more organic way with the world around. The Church as we used to know it melts down and the Church the way it is becoming grows up with the rest of creation. This will be terrifying to all of us—leadership and members—but will be similar to a child who has matured enough to move out of the house and to interact directly with the world.
  • This is not to suggest that entities such as Richwoods, Northwoods, Riverside, etc. will become irrelevant—only that it is time for the role to change.
  • As the Church is led into being the Church, the individual church organization (Richwoods, Willow Creek, etc) and its leadership takes on a role of "helper" and "guide." Church services and programs become a "service to the Church", but never again to be referred to as "the Church." Leadership plays its own role within the body of the Church, by leading—being the first to take steps into the un-charted areas, led by God. The Church's buildings become places for the Church to be together. Music, communion, etc still happen, as long as they are natural results of the individuals who are the Church being who they are.
  • The functioning of the church-building and church-programs can never be pre-determined outcomes, but are allowed and encouraged results of the individuals who are the Church being who they are.

If, instead, our leaders choose to continue filling the space with high quality Christian material (“home run” sermons, polished music and production, children’s ministry, etc), we will have taught the Church a crippling message: The Church is Riverside; the Church is Willow Creek; the Church is staff; the Church is elders; the Church is people on stage… and no one will complain (as people tend not to do when they are not being led anywhere new or significant). This is the easy way forward. This is the wide road, and it will lead to death. The narrow road is hard, and very few take it. It is the responsibility—right now—of whatever leaders the Church has left to choose the narrow road.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Very sincerely, with love and humility,
Nathan Peterson

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Fear At The Door; Rest Inside

Fear At The Door; Rest Inside

March 11, 2019

In the spring of 2012, I heard this word, “Rest.” I realized how horrible I was at it. I wasn’t even sure what it was. Was it extra sleep? Was it not working on Sundays? Shortly after I heard this word, my life began changing. For one reason or another, one by one, the things with which I occupied myself were stripped away until I found myself with nothing left to hold.

A year later I was in a panic, wondering how we were going to make ends meet. Everything in me said to do what I had always done: get on email, get on the phone, make the next thing happen. Anyone who knew me knew I was someone who could make anything happen. If I didn’t know how, I bought a book and learned. Anything I ever wanted I found a way to get.

Then I heard the word again, “Rest.”

“What?! Now? No. My family is depending on me. My reputation is at stake. I don’t have time for rest. I will rest when things are okay.”

“No. That is not what rest is.”

Rest is not something you do. Rest is something you put on. It is something you are while you do what you are doing. Rest is a posture.

I decided to do the exact opposite thing my insides were telling me to do. I went to the backyard, sat on a chair, and watched. I did not know what I was watching for. I listened. I did not know what I was listening for. Every time a thought or an idea came to my head, I wrote it down and then resumed sitting. It was horrible, like ignoring an itch for hours. I knew that if it was this hard for me to physically sit still, it was important for me to learn. If my body could not sit still, then how could my mind or my heart? So I decided to discipline myself to sit that way at least one day a week.

Eventually, I sat this way more often. Meanwhile, my professional life continued to fall apart and the temptation to do something about it grew. I heard so many voices, some from friends and family but most from my own head:

“You’re lazy.” “You’re being irresponsible.” “What are you doing??!!” “It’s up to you to provide for your family.” “Get up and make something happen, now!”

Simultaneously I heard another voice:

“Rest.”

“How long do I wait?”

“Rest.”

This was the summer of 2013. A year later, we received the call about our soon-to-be-born baby’s condition. I had thought that the urge to get up and do something was strong before, but now this was on an entirely new level. Again I heard the voice say “Rest”, so we didn’t research Trisomy 18. We didn’t look for different doctors who would say something we wanted to hear.

I continued to sit and stare at the fence, quieting my body, and eventually, at times, quieting my mind and my heart as well. I can not even describe the amount of Fear that was present. But this time it was different. It was as if in the past Fear had walked in the door and I was afraid; now Fear stood in the doorway and waited to be invited in. More and more Fear gathered at the door, but it did not come in. It only waited. I could see it there. It was terrifying. But I wasn’t able to invite it in. Rest was occupying the space instead.

The moments in the hospital on January 7th 2015 - I thought my wife might die. I expected to hold our lifeless baby that morning. I knew I would speak at Olivia’s funeral and not know what to say. It was like a nightmare. But I remember it. I was there. If she would have lived only an hour, I would have been there for that one hour. Because Fear was at the door, but Rest was inside. My posture was rest, quiet, and trust. It was not about making things happen. It was about watching, listening, and being there and nowhere else. I was not going to miss it, as horrible as it could have been.

During the first few months of Olivia’s life, Fear kept congregating at the door. We thought we saw her last breath so many times. We were so sleep deprived. I passed out one day just walking across the room. At this point, I felt pretty incapable of getting up and making something happen. The doctors were clear that there was nothing we could do. Hospice was at our house every few days. I was not tempted to get up and do something about Olivia. Now I was tempted to get up and work. To make sure the bills got paid. To make sure my career did not disappear any more than it already had. But underneath was a stronger need: to run, to get the hell out of this situation. Work can be an easy place for a man to avoid the realities of his life. It was pretty obvious though, that work was not to be my focus - that whatever time we had left with Olivia was to be cherished - every minute of it. Still, I felt the urge to run more than ever.

“Rest.”

I continued to hold the posture. To sit. To stare at the fence. To listen quietly. I was not going to miss it.

I was there the whole time. All 14 months of her life.

I lost my posture at times. But I can say that the 30-year-old Nathan (five years ago) would have occupied himself the entire time, trying to make things happen, running like crazy away from the pain. No. I had practiced for this all year. I knew how to allow the itch, the pain, to be there and not to move. I knew how to allow the voices in my head and the voices from others to be there without being influenced by them. I knew how to go deeper within my Self, to the place where a still and quiet voice whispered the word “Rest” over and over. I had practiced the posture; the time had come to use it. I was there the whole time. I did not miss my daughter’s life.

In March of 2016, when I got the call that Olivia had stopped breathing, I was on a bike ride with our other three kids. Time stopped. Jude asked if Olivia was okay, and I was able to look at him and say, “Yes. Even if she does die, all of us are okay.”

We rode our bikes so fast. Fear was now filling the doorway and had crowded around the house and the windows and as far as the eye could see. We rode our bikes. I didn’t feel much, but the tears streaming down my face told me, “Today is the day. It is finished.” We kept riding.

I don’t remember getting off my bike. I’m guessing I had never run so fast. But I will never forget the feeling of walking through the back porch door and seeing Heather and Olivia there. The most sinking and unreal amount of pain I have ever felt mixed with an equal amount of peace, beauty, and a sense of victory.

After a lot of crying, the only words I could say to Heather were, “We did it.” We won. Olivia won. Heather won. I won. Our family won. Our community won. Yes, Olivia died, but that was never the battle we were fighting. We had chosen to fight Fear instead.

I don’t think I have experienced the remainder of that day, or the next few days, or the funeral or the burial yet. I think I’m still back processing the day Olivia was born. It’s weird. I have never grieved like this before, but I think the body has a way of pacing how much pain it allows in at once. I’m realizing now that we will be experiencing the pain and the beauty of Olivia’s life and death for a long time. I don’t know if or when we will ever feel normal or even functional again. But I do remember one thing about the morning after Olivia died, vividly.

I remember going for a run and the feeling of Rest overwhelming me. Not happiness or excitement - I was very sad - but so much Rest. And I remember noticing how little Fear I sensed, like it was not even at the door anymore. It was as if the battle had ended and Fear had lost and it just turned and went home. There was no temptation to run or to make anything happen. Olivia was dead but I felt an amazing amount of Rest. And trust. And quiet. And strength.

Since that day, Fear has returned to my door. I have struggled more than ever to rest. This battle is never-ending. But once you win one battle, every battle after is different. Now you know you can win. You know what it feels like to say “we did it” and you know you can do it again.

I have a feeling the next year is going to be more difficult to rest than the previous two years were. That is a very overwhelming thought. But I have a wife and three living kids and one sleeping daughter who need a husband and a father who knows how to rest. That is what I will choose to do.

Fear at the door; rest inside.

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Moving Inward

Moving Inward

January 21, 2019

I think when people hear "moving inward" they assume it means shutting out the outside world... I'm learning that it might be the exact opposite. It may be that our only way of truly connecting with our world and with each other is to first come back to where we are:

To do some letting go. Some accepting of where I am and of who I am, what I'm like, my faults, my strengths, my failures, my successes... ALL OF IT. To be with this complex person who I've become and to appreciate him, faults and all. To trust that I am beautifully made. To trust that my life is on a path and that it is going to be okay, even when it isn't. To allow myself to breathe and to just be and to trust the controlling of things to God--to the Current...

And from that place, look up and receive the gaze or the words or the touch of a friend.

What a scary, vulnerable thing to do. Why? Because anything could happen at that point, and we wouldn't be braced for it--we would be unprotected. And that is exactly why it could be so amazingly beautiful--anything could happen.

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New Year 2019

New Year 2019

January 1, 2019

2018 was a year of intense and overwhelming pain for me: Continued pain of the loss of Olivia; Past pain from childhood; Pain of inadequacy and confusion with my work; Financial pains and shame. 2018 was the year I began to feel many of these pains and traumas for the first time.

So, I look back on 2018 with great appreciation and great pride, because the beginnings of the feeling of all these pains can only mean one thing: I have begun to find the courage to feel.

Toward the end of this year, I have begun to feel another thing: hope. Not the kind of hope you're "supposed to have". Not the kind of hope I was asked by many (well-meaning) people to have during the months following Olivia's death. Not the kind of hope which exists in your head while your body remains frozen... actually, the exact opposite. I have begun to feel the kind of hope which one can only feel in one's body, in the bones, and my head can't understand it. This kind of hope can't be understood. It can't be conjured up. It can only be received.

2018 was a year of beginning to receive.

My hope for myself in 2019 is that I continue to receive--not just the pain and not just the hope, but whatever is real and true... whatever is. My resolution for 2019 is that, in addition to the courage it will take to continue this path myself, I will have the courage to help others (who want to) travel this path as well.

I don't know how to do any of this.

I enter 2019 with no answers, no money, no fame, no plan. I enter only with a lot of pain, exhaustion, some songs and some books I wrote, my wife and family and friends, and a shred of hope in my bones.

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Why Move Inward?

Why Move Inward?

December 19, 2018

Why would anyone want to move inward if moving inward meant moving toward pain and darkness? I think it is because deep down we know there is more than just pain and darkness down there.

Yes, as we go deeper, eventually it will become dark. Don't stop now! Deeper still, a light shines in the darkness. And there are two people there, talking together, working together on something very good. One of these people is you --the real you. The other is God. He is working to restore you, to heal you. The part of you He is restoring is not your goodness, your beauty, your strength--those have always been in tact. The part of you He is healing is your hope--hope that you are still good, hope that you are still beautiful, hope that you are strong.

The journey to this place is dark and yes, there is pain. But deep down we know that what we want more than anything is there also.

Distraction and busyness will always invite you to stay above your neck, in your head, safely away from your pain. But you have the power to let go of safety and move toward the thing you want the most.

Only a few will have the courage to take this journey, but for those who do, remember that you are not alone. There are two people waiting for you, just past the darkness... and not only them, but many more of us who are making the same journey. ❤️

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