More Life, Fewer Explanations

with Stanley Hauerwas

Why doesn’t God fix our pain? Listen in to hear world-renowned theologian Stanley Hauerwas’ thoughts about why Christians are not exempt from difficult circumstances and why people need fewer explanations.




In this episode, Kate and Stanley discuss:

  • Why Christians are not exempt from difficult circumstances
  • Why people need fewer explanations (and why Stanley is suspicious of anyone who demands them)
  • Stanley’s advice for going through something difficult

CW: bipolar, mental illness

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Stanley Hauerwas

Stanley Hauerwas has sought to recover the significance of the virtues for understanding the nature of the Christian life. This search has led him to emphasize the importance of the church, as well as narrative for understanding Christian existence. He was named "America’s Best Theologian" by Time magazine in 2001. Dr. Hauerwas, who holds a joint appointment in Duke Divinity School and Duke Law School, delivered the prestigious Gifford Lectureship at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland in 2001. His book, A Community of Character: Toward a Constructive Christian Social Ethic, was selected as one of the 100 most important books on religion of the 20th century.

Show Notes

Stanley loves to write and has written many books which you can find the full list here. Kate mentions several of his books including: “God, Medicine, and Suffering”, “Resident Aliens” co-written with Will Willimon, and “Hannah’s Child”.

Do you want to learn more about mental illness? If you or a family member suffer from mental illness, The National Alliance of Mental Illness has resources for individuals and caregiving family members.

Learn more about the works of B. Davie Napier and the book Stanley mentions “Faith to Faith”.

Embracing the Complexity of Pain: a conversation with Dr. Haider Warraich and Kate Bowler

For another perspective on being a caregiver for someone experiencing mental illness, listen to our episode with Mark Lukach.


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Discussion Questions

Discuss this episode with a book club, friends, or bible study group.  Here are some conversation starters:

  1. Stanley and Kate’s conversation explores what it means to live life without explanation. Stanley explains that “the ability to live well without explanation is the condition to see things the way they are” (27:34). The first step towards living life without explanation is finding your truth, to describe things the way they are for you. Can you describe how things are in your own life right now? Can you name your truth?
  2. Kate ends the podcast with this thought: “This precious community is born around the idea that sometimes everything just happens for no reason we can ever understand or discern or point to. And we just have to learn to live here without explanations or endings. So here we are together, searching for beauty and meaning and hope on the other side of lives, marked by our worst moments or pain that endures, or grief that never lets you catch your breath” (35:51).  What does faith look like for you in light of not having so many explanations? Stanley explains, “I say if you need a theory of truth to know that Jesus was raised from the dead, then worship that theory, don’t worship Jesus. Because resurrection is the truth. And it’s also the case that you can’t explain the fact that you your cancer is yours.” What happens to your faith when your truth can not be explained?
  3. If you or a friend are worried that you can’t handle your truth or that there’s no more joy to be found in life, if you find yourself in some type of  “endemic of self-involvement that absolutely destroys” (Stanley 33:33) or “the accidental narcissism of pain.” (Kate 33:45), perhaps today, you can take Stanley’s advice about finding joy by finding something to do. It could be a hobby like gardening, get a cat, carve wood, pick a team and become fan, or even just simply find the sanctification of quotidian chores. (How do we see God in cutting the grass? Washing dishes? Or doing the laundry?) Take a moment to generate some ideas about what we can do when we simply can’t explain our truths.
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Kate Bowler: Oh, hello there. Today is one of those very special days where I get to introduce you to one of my real life friends. My name is Kate Bowler, and this is Everything Happens. And when I’m not here in this studio talking with all of you, I’m a professor at Duke Divinity School, and one of my colleagues is here with me today. His name is Stanley Hauerwas, and his reputation probably precedes him. He has written some of the most influential books on religion in the 20th century, but behind closed doors, he was suffering more than most of us knew in a marriage shaped by his wife’s severe mental illness. It is out of this lived experience he writes and thinks about some of the questions of faith we all wonder. Why doesn’t God fix our pain? Why does God allow terrible things to happen to us? Stanley is exactly the person I wanted to talk to you about this topic because his responses are so hard won. But before we get there, let me tell you a little bit about my friend Stanley. Stanley is a renowned theologian, ethicist and public intellectual. In fact, he was named America’s best theologian by Time magazine. An honor to which he responded best is not a theological category. Stanley taught at Augustana and the University of Notre Dame before joining the faculty at Duke Divinity School. And he now holds an emeritus position here, which is a professor word, pretending that we retire when really we just kind of do more work and then don’t attend faculty meetings. He loves to write about the importance of virtues for our lives and the life of the church. And holy cow, does he love to write. He has written dozens of books which are central to how we think about theology and ethics. What our lives are for and what we owe each other. His books have won all kinds of awards, including being selected among the most important books on religion in the 20th century. Some of my personal favorites are “God, Medicine and Suffering” and “Resident Aliens”, which he co-wrote with someone we both adore,Will Willimon. And his theological memoir, “Hanna’s Child”, is something we’ll be talking a lot about today. Oh, yeah. And he was even on Oprah, so totally normal theologian things. Stanley, I feel so lucky that you’re doing this with me today. Thank you so much.

Stanley Hauerwas: My pleasure

Kate: You’re not a typical professor, I might sort of say in a roundabout way. For some of us, like children of professors who grew up with like bookbinding kits as hobbies. I have a really aggressive stamp collection. I’d very much like to show you someday. You instead grew up in Texas with a family trade. So tell me about the young Stanley Hauerwas

Stanley: Everything was work. My mother, who was from dirt poor Mississippi. We had to have a garden. At the time I was five, I better know how to have a hoe. And my mother was left handed and I was right handed. I had to learn how left handed. But we were working class. My my father was one of six brothers. We were all bricklayers. So I was taken out on the job when I was, I suppose, 13.

Kate: Whoa.

Stanley: And I had to learn all of the subsidiary skills that are part of the labor, before I learned a lay brick. It was hard work for hard people. I, I acquired a vocabulary that was very unique for someone that was allegedly going into the ministry. I grew up in a church that you were baptized, but you had to be saved on Sunday night. And I kept wanting to be saved, but it just never seemed to happen. So finally, one Sunday night, we were singing “I Surrender All” for the 25th time for the altar call. And I thought, if someone doesn’t do something, is it going to go on all night. So I, I went up and dedicated my life to the Lord, not having the slightest idea what that meant. So what it meant was the associate pastor told me I supposed to read books.

Kate: Oh, yeah.

Stanley: So I read a lot of very bad books. But we weren’t smart enough to be fundamentalist. I mean, you got to be smart me a fundamentalist. So I started reading and just happened to hit on a book by B. Davie Napier called “Faith to Faith”. And I thought I didn’t know JEDP and I discovered that what was in the Bible wasn’t factually true.

Kate: Oh.

Stanley: No, I gave, I gave it up.

Kate: Really? Did you?

Stanley: Oh, yes. But at the same time, I was still committed to going to college because I was told that if you had these kind of experiences, you had to go to college. My, no one in my family had ever been to college. So I went and discovered I was the philosophy major at Southwestern University.

Kate: The only one.

Stanley: The only one. And I slowly began to think I wasn’t smart enough to be an atheist. I began to understand that atheism was a very, parasitic position because you had to know you had that, you know, some presumption about God in order to deny. I slowly worked my way into thinking that I had to take this stuff seriously. So, I ended up going to divinity school at Yale after umm,  after college. And I thought if I was going to be a Christian, I would be a libera. And but I thought the decisive issue before Christians about whether what we believed was true or not, was how it was that we gave the Jews up in the Holocaust. It was I thought it would be the Protestant liberals that maybe stood against that. I was stunned to discover it was Carl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. And so I started reading Bart, and the rest is history. It’s what i have been about ever since.

Kate: hahaha

Stanley: I say, most people don’t need to be theologians to be a Christian, but I probably did

Kate: Another big turning point for you was how, you and I both got married very young. That makes it sound like we married each other. But you married quite young. In your first semester of seminary. Tell me a bit about your young married life and what you’d hoped for.

Stanley: It was hell. One, I didn’t know what I was doing. It was without thought and knowing what what I was doing. And she was very demanding. She had had a very conflictual relationship with her mother. And she was smart. And we had known one another at Southwestern as undergraduates. When we went to Notre Dame and our lives are just beginning to look like, hey, I’m going to be able to hold a job.

Kate: Yeah.

Stanley: But one day. I came home. And she said, you understand that I’m a person of great talent. Which means, you know, you can’t restrict me to having sexual relations with you just because were married. Becuase I’m in love with someone else, who she named. And I had never, uh, confronted anyone that was having a bipolar experience. And I mean, at the time we called it manic depression. And I, I had no idea what to do.

Kate: Yeah.

Stanley: Because it’s very frightening. When someone is manic, they’re really manic or she was. And so it took me about two days to get her to the hospital. It was like 1:00 at night. And I was trying to convince her that she had this view, that she was terrestrial. And she had been sent down from one planet, our planet, to free those of us who were bodily from our bodies. And we just needed to drink enough water that we would float away in a way that would save us from bodily existence. She’d been reading a lot of Gnostic literature.

Kate: Oh.

Stanley: And there I was, trying to convince her that uh, that the world wasn’t insane. She was.

Kate: Oh, Stanley.

Stanley: So for the next ten years, that’s the way it worked. She would have episodes. Or six times a year, not more. And they were absolute hell. Oh. Because the medications, Haldol, which many people will recognize, would bring it bring them down, but also would then create a agitated depression in which they would not be able to stay still. Right. As sleep was always one of the first indicators that people listening to this that have been around mental illness, know that sleep is a fundamental indicator. The anger at me, was volcanic. Because I was the one that was causing her the problem. So you need to get rid of me. And, yeah, we were rising, Adam was, I think, five when it first started occurring. So, I became father and mother. And he’s a wonderful human being. And raising him, he, he became my closest friend.

Kate: Hmm.

Stanley: We somehow survived it until w, we moved to Durham. She had come to believe she was in love and was loved by a congregation of Holy Cross priests named Young Burchill.

Kate: Oh.

Stanley: Who? She would break into his apartments and try to.

Kate: Oh, no.

Stanley: uhh, uhh, right. Tried to seduce him and this kind of thing. I mean, the the the weirdness of it all is.. and but

Kate: How surreal for you because you’re I mean,.

Stanley: Carrying on.

Kate: You are too polite to say wildly successful. And then you have this sort of surreal career trajectory to the and then simultaneously your two kinds of caregiving.

Stanley: Right.

Kate: I imagine there’s a lot of feelings that comes with this. Maybe anger for having to defer a lot of your own hopes and dreams for a marriage. Maybe frustration at her not being the mom that your son deserves. How did you manage the kind of emotional range of what you’re going through

Stanley: I don’t remember being angry at all.

Kate: Really?

Stanley: No, I was frustrated. I’m a southern male. I’m supposed to make the world okay by the people around me. So I was desperate to try to make Ann happy. Where then she wouldn’t punish me. Oh, so those were, that was the dynamic.

Kate: Yeah.

Stanley: That you developed to just see if you could make things okay? Yeah. For a little while. But I became a jogger.

Kate: Yeah. And, yeah, all that energy had to go somewhere.

Stanley: The sicker she became, the further I ran

Kate: Oh.

Stanley: I think sadness certainly evaded you and people would say, well the position, the situation is just tragic. I’d say, no, it’s pathetic. Pathos, not tragedy, is what, was the characteristic to describe the situation.

Kate: Tell me about pathos.

Stanley: Pathos is the sense that you’re caught in a situation for which there’s no solution. But you have to keep going on.

Kate: Hmm.

Stanley: I guess that’s what I think of pathos. People that are mentally ill are in pain. And you have to remember that the pain is there, even when they’re using it to beat the hell out of you.

Kate: Oh, yeah. One of the things that strikes me about your memoir is what a love letter it is to your friends and the rich sustaining friends you’ve developed. It’s so beautiful.

Stanley: Friendship is not just a reality for me in terms of the sustaining of my life, but it’s also intellectually is one of the.

Kate: Isn’t it so great.

Stanley: One of the defining characteristics of my understanding of how you do theological work. Charity is in Aquinas sense, form of all the virtues. But the character of charity is friendship with God. And so, you know, I’m I’m not I’m not a pious person. I mean, it just doesn’t come naturally to me. But friendship does

Kate: Because it’s like it’s play. It’s arguing. It’s intimacy. It’s fighting. I love fighting with my friends. It’s all the it’s the. I don’t know. It feels to me like the big range of, you can sprint as fast as you want, and, and then you also somehow are all caught up with each other.

Stanley: Right, for me it has so much to do with the training of students

Kate: MmHmm.

Stanley: I had never known how many dissertations I had directed, but Richard Hayes actually counted up the number of dissertations I had directed.

Kate: How many was it?

Stanley: It was 75.

Kate: Holy crap, Stanley

Stanley: That’s more, It’s more now. But I, I like to think that most of the people I’ve directed have remained friends.

Kate: I have once, you know, successfully launched intellectual Ph.D. child. Which is how I think of him. And being able to think alongside him has been one of the big joys of my life. Let me feel like I was. Yeah, it was. It was a different kind of friendship and parenting. I wondered if we could talk a bit about the way we think about pain. There is, as we both know, a large and growing strain inside of American Christianity that believes that we should be exempt. That Christians should somehow be happier, maybe more, maybe more successful in evading the pitfalls that ensnare everyone else. How do you respond when you hear things like that

Stanley: I want to kill you. I think. What shit. That somehow, you think you’ve read the gospels, and think that you’re Christianity is about, is to make you happy in a way that the reality, the complexity, of human life is denied. The sudden reality of illness. A sudden reality of broken relationship. The sudden reality of death. If those are denied, then we don’t understand, why it is we so desperately need one another. So the prosperity gospel, I appreciate the fact that that. Many people are attracted to it because they’ve been lied to about Christianity is about. And they are desperate

Kate: mmHmm.

Stanley: For a way to give themselves some hope. But the hope is extraordinarily mischaracterized, in a way that fails to see how hope gives you a way to go on, when you still are not going to be relieved of the pain.

Kate: I totally agree because it’s that kind of hope. Like if you just had a guarantee, you wouldn’t need hope. You wouldn’t need courage. You just, you just have a formula.

Stanley: But remember that courage is not the absence of fear, but it is the formation of rightly fearing what should be feared. If the, if the courageous person didn’t know fear. They just be foolhardy. They wouldn’t be courageous. So the courageous have fears that the coward will never know.

Kate: I like that. Also makes me think of you and caregiving and what kind of courage it takes to have the ongoingness of things. And that’s how I feel about chronic cancer. It’s not cancer. It’s the ongoingness of it, that gets to me.

Stanley: Right

Kate: Because then you already know the things you have to fear. It happened. And then you have to keep on.

Stanley: I guess. You need to forget every once in a while.

Kate: Haha, totally. Absolutey.  Yes, I totally agree. Oh, Stanley, that’s such a good thought. I think that’s why I always, the the harder things get, the more I have such an intense desire to do like to be around friends, to throw dumb parties. I go visit world’s largest statues, that kind of thing. They build a lot in Manitoba, I can tell you that.

Stanley: Right.

Kate: But it is the it’s a it feels like forgetting in the best way.

Stanley: Yeah, there is, for both of us, part of the strategy of surviving, it’s called busyness.

Kate: Yeah, well, what? No, I am very chill.

Stanley: Busyness can be quite distructive, how to not be busy in a way that prevents other people from having a claim on us as part of the negotiation that is constantly there. And to go back to the prosperity gospel, it’s not, it’s too busy.

Kate: Well, it’s a lot to do if you have to save yourself.

Stanley: Right.

Kate: It’s a lot of work. I really like what you said about the speed of life that can prevent others from having a claim on us. I worked all throughout my diagnosis just because in part I didn’t want to be there where I was, and I still don’t like the claustrophobic feeling that pain gives me. Like, why would I want to be stuck in my horrible present when I can live in the future or the past?

Stanley: How much do you make a distinction between pain and suffering?

Kate: Hmm.

Stanley: I mean.

Kate: Yeah, I get a little touchy about it, too, because of all this pain is necessary suffering is optional, people. And I do think the monastic tradition falls into that and frankly, it really pisses me off. Like and that gets back to the other version of it’s not just the prosperity gospel people who tell Christians that they can escape pain. It’s all those who imagine that a certain kind of cultivated detachment is going to save the day.

Stanley: It’s interesting to think about what the prevention of pain does to medical intervention, because I think one of the things that is characteristic of us in modernity is to ask too much of care providers. Namely, physicians cannot say, I don’t think you’re going to get better.

Kate: I hope they do. Man, if they if they think that, I hope they do. There is, we had a really interesting conversation with Dr. Haider, who wrote this really beautiful book on pain called “The Song of Our Scars”. He made

Stanley: A lovely title.

Kate: It’s lovely. Yeah. He made a careful distinction between pain and suffering, in particular that about the story that we tell and that the story is, in fact crucial to how we find ourselves in communiy. Whether our pain and our suffering is then part of a story people know how to tell about us. So, for instance, caregiving for someone with mental illness, if if nobody knows, if telling people is too awkward or embarrassing, then the story about your suffering doesn’t get to be a held story. So whether some tragedies are easier to tell than others. And then also just the way we enact pain or don’t. So I’m a very umm, I’m not going to show you when I’m uncomfortable. And then, therefore, it’s very difficult to tell when it’s just pain or if it’s ongoing suffering.

Stanley: It’s interesting, narrative is absolutely crucial to sustaining life in pain. I wrote “God Medicine The Problem of Suffering”, which my title was Naming the Silences.

Kate: Yeah. Yeah. I wanted to ask you about that. I’m so glad you brought that up.

Stanley: And the publisher thought that Naming the Silences after the first edition, was too obscure. And so they named it “God, Medicine, and the Problem of Suffering”.

Kate: Yeah.

Stanley: But Naming the Silences, tries to gesture to the paradoxical character of the fact that the silence can be named. Because the naming is the silence. So how you can share this story, that is enveloping you from the silence.

Kate: Yeah,.

Stanley: At the pain. Occasions is part of the great challenge before us. And that’s. That’s what I think is the training of being a Christian impulse.

Kate: One of my favorite things about you is that you remain very suspicious about people who attempt to explain why God allows for pain and suffering.

Stanley: One of the things that you have to resist is the very demand for explanation. It’s there, it can’t be explained. What and it has theological implications. I say if you need a theory of truth to know that Jesus was raised from the dead, then worship that theory, don’t worship Jesus. Because resurrection is the truth. And it’s also the case that you can’t explain the fact that you your cancer is yours.

Kate: Yeah.

Stanley: It just is there.

Kate: Yeah.

Stanley: You have to learn to live with it, which you have done. They demand for explanation results in lives that are fundamentally boring

Kate: Why? Why boring?

Stanley: Because you have to still your desire for beauty.

Kate: Hmm.

Stanley: Because exactly the ability to live well without explanation is the condition to see things the way they are.

Kate: I don’t like that at all. And I think that’s a very is that is a very satisfying thing to hear. The ability to live without explanation it’s key to the ability to live well.

Stanley:  I mean God is not an explanation.

Kate: It’s horrible. Wouldn’t it be nice, though? I mean. I want it my so my mom was converted by a tract, you know, like one of those like three folded pieces of paper. And she had like just saw a series of propositions like, you are a sinner and it’s fallen short of the glory of god. She was like me? So I have always thought that man, if I could just get a shorthand for the mysteries of the universe. I think my life might be better. But I umm, our mutual dear friend Dr. Sam Wells, in his book on Suffering, says something really similar about like how attempts to solve the problem of pain offer like a theological response instead of a pastoral one, when what you really need is

Stanley: Presence. Don’t go away.

Kate: Yeah. Please don’t leave me. I didn’t want to do this anyway.

Stanley: Right

Kate: Yeah. Yeah. One thing I really admire about you is how committed you are to the local church. What do you think the gift is of the local church? And helping us carry our grief? Absorb and tell our sorrows? What’s it doing, do you think? And I know maybe you’ll say don’t be instrumentalist about this, Kate.

Kate: Well, no, no, I. I know where I’m going to be, where my ashes are going to be. There going to be in the columbarium at Church of the Holy Family in Chapel Hill. I know that a number of the people that Holy Family will care about that. And I, I find joy in the fact that people care that I’m there. I mean, let’s face it. I mean, when you and I both know Christianity’s in deep trouble

Kate: Yes.

Stanley: And we’re in deep trouble partly because we haven’t told the truth to one another. So it’s been kind of saccharin. I don’t suggest that’s happened at Holy Family. I don’t know what the future of the church is going to be. I think Protestantism is coming to an end, at least mainstream.

Kate: Have we been replaced by therapists?

Stanley: I really don’t know. I don’t know.

Kate: I just don’t know what the priestly class is exactly for right now in our culture.

Stanley: I think that’s it. I’m not sure I know what the priestly class is either. It’s just I think people are living lives they’re not sure they understand. I mean, my kind of response to your question is well, I stay going to Holy Family. I can count on us using the great litany two or three times in the year. And in the great litany, I’m, one of the appeals is save me from a sudden death.

Kate: Hmm. Hmm.

Stanley:  Isn’t that wonderful? To be part of a people that want to be saved from a sudden death. Because be saved from a sudden death means I have time to ask God for forgiveness for my sins before I die. I mean, those are like it’s very basic stuff.

Kate: Like wrapped into a a longer story of how that they will all of our beginnings on our endings.

Stanley: Right.

Kate: Yeah. Yeah.

Stanley: So we’re all Congregationalist now. I don’t particularly like it, but that’s the way it is. That means we try to find churches that can sustain us. The work trying to be Christians in a time when that’s not at all clear. So, being at Holy Family, where the language works is everything.

Kate: My one last question was about joy. After such a long haul of being unhappy. You found and met and married someone absolutely delightful, Paula. You wrote, it is odd, but I think true that most of us are almost as ill prepared to receive joy as we are suffering. What might you say to people who worry that there’s no joy left to be found?

Stanley: Well, I say what I discovered about being Christian does it gives you something to do. That’s just wonderful to have something to do because most of us are not sure we have anything to do. So I recommend learning to do something carve wood, become a fan of the Atlanta Braves. Learn to do something and somehow that will save you from the endemic a self-involvement that absolutely destroys.

Kate: The accidental narcissism of pain.

Stanley: Right.

Kate: Stanley, are you feeling your age at all? Because to me, you’re just always indestructible.

Stanley: That’s a, many people have that view of me.

Kate: Yeah.

Stanley: And it’s very destructive. Oh, I’ve got to learn to grow old. Oh. I’m 82. Oh. And I’m above ground.

Kate: Then I take it back. Stanley, I hope you have all of the naps that I am not yet equipped to have.

Stanley: Right. Well, I’m sleeping almost 10 hours a night now, which I think is good.

Kate: Yeah.

Stanley: And I didn’t used to do that.

Kate: But you like the busy hum like I do. And it’s hard to undo that.

Stanley: Right. Yeah, but. And I have cats.

Kate: Yeah, totally.

Stanley: And we we enjoy that. We enjoy that.

Kate: Yeah.

Stanley: I got the yard yesterday.

Kate: Well done. Yeah.

Stanley: 82 and still cutting

Kate: Yeah. Yeah.

Stanley: And it’s a push mower.

Kate: Activities like that you’d get an a Menonnite Christmas letter for sure. We love a good, industrious lawn mower.

Stanley: And by giving you something to do. Something that’s simple as being a lector at worship. Yeah, those kind of things.

Kate: So to be a good friend to you right now, I should ask you to have hobbies.

Stanley: I’ve never had hobbies

Kate: Yeah, me too. Stanley, this is the whole problem though, is I just have friends and work. What? Yeah. Can’t I just be like this forever?

Stanley: No. My hunch is probably not.

Kate: Stanley, I love your brain and I cherish you. Thanks so much for doing this with me. I’m not going to forget what Stanley said. He said the ability to live well is the ability to live without explanation. And isn’t that exactly what we’re all trying to do here? This precious community is born around the idea that sometimes everything just happens for no reason we can ever understand or discern or point to. And we just have to learn to live here without explanations or endings. So here we are together, searching for beauty and meaning and hope on the other side of lives, marked by our worst moments or pain that endures, or grief that never lets you catch your breath. So here, my dears, is a blessing for that task ahead of us. A blessing for when things don’t make any sense. God, I’m fumbling around for answers. Reasons. Meaning. I can’t find any purpose in this pain. Why me? Why them? Why now? I don’t know when this is going to get better or if I will ever feel relief. Blessed are we who need to be reminded that there are some things we can fix and some things we can’t. Blessed are we who can say, my life isn’t always getting better. Right in the midst of pain and fear and uncertainty. May we hunt for beauty and meaning and truth together. Not to erase the pain or solve the pain, though surely that would be nice. But to remind us that beauty and sorrow coexist. And that doesn’t mean we’re broken or have been forgotten. In our hope. In our disappointment. In our joy. In our pain. God is here. And we are never, were never, and will never be alone.

Rebecca from Asheville, NC: Hi, Kate. This is Rebecca, and I’m calling from Asheville, North Carolina. I’m calling in response to the question about what hope is keeping you going, especially when you don’t really have a lot of explanations. The hope that I really cling to is it’s going to be okay, even when it’s not okay. And I think that for a long time I was worried about being okay in the sense that the world, and society and all all of the “theys”, those people. Whatever, whatever that definition that they created, was okay. And I think what what keeps me going is just knowing that that’s not true and that that looks different for me and for every other person.

Alana from Portland, Ore: Hi. My name is Alana Fryt. I’m from Portland, Oregon. About five years ago, I had an injury in which my world turned upside down for a couple of years. It’s significantly better now, but I still live with some ramifications of the injury. And I thought that my formula of a great work ethic, exercise program, deep faith, etc., would be enough. And it wasn’t. But I’ve learned through some ups and downs and deep, deep grief and deep, deep, deep growth that I can, in fact, live this life without understanding why. And yet trust God at the same time as his beloved. So love your podcast, Kate. Love your heart. Thank you so much.

Kate: A really special thank you to our generous partners who make this work possible. Lilly Endowment. The Duke Endowment. Duke Divinity School and Leadership Education. And to my wonderful team. Jessica Richie. Harriet Putnam, Gwen Heginbotham, Brenda Thompson, Keith Weston, Jeb and Sammy. Thank you. And I would love to hear what you thought about this episode. Would you do me a favor and leave a review on Apple Podcasts? It really, really means a lot to us when we get to hear what we do well and also might even do better. You can also leave us a voicemail and who knows? We might even be able to use your voice on the air. Call us at 919-322-8731. All right, lovelies. I’ll talk to you next week. But in the meantime, come find me online at Kate C. Bowler. This is everything happens with me, Kate Bowler.


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