– st. augustine
the minute i read this, i knew it would be one i’d remember for a long time. i love the word “hope”. in fact, i think it’s my favorite word (my second favorite word is probably “redemption” and i think my third most favorite word is probably “sh**ty”). maybe they all fit together somehow?
augustine’s description of hope stirred my soul. two beautiful daughters. two beautiful strong powerful daughters. with powerful names. anger and courage. if you’re like me, i had been subtly (and directly) taught over the years that anger is bad. it wasn’t a direct message where someone said “you can’t ever be angry” but the truth was there was an indirect message that i was taught that “good girls like you who keep the peace and make everything right in the world for everyone else should never be mad. just buck up, do what you need to do, and don’t complain about it.” and then when i became evangelicalized, i learned a much more direct message that anger is for people who don’t trust enough, believe enough, give-it-over-to-God enough, that somehow with enough faith, prayer, bible passages, or christian magical thinking there would be no such thing as anger. the one two punch of both angles seemed to seal the deal: anger is not good. but over the years i have continued to lean into the value and importance of anger. that it is good. it is real. it is powerful. it is important. and i need to learn to listen to it more.
anger can be an ingredient for hope. when i was going through all my church craziness a few years ago, i got in touch with my anger in a way that i had never allowed myself to before. something came forth and i couldn’t turn it off. i was just plain mad. mad at the system. mad at the damage. mad at my damage and how sucked in i got to the whole darn thing. mad at how Jesus gets marketed and used in ways that sell. mad at how addicted to inspiration so many people are. mad at myself for thinking i could change a powerful system. mad at God for putting this deep passion for the church inside me that i can never seem to shake. my anger scared me, but i had come to a place in my spiritual journey where i knew somewhere down deep that i needed to roll with it and not try to falsely reign it in as quick as i could. i admit, i’m still mad. less than i was last year and far far far less then the 2 years before that. it’s not an icky anger anymore; but i’m not afraid to stay with the restless anger that things “are not the way they should be.”
and i was reminded this week that anger has a powerful companion—courage. courage to move toward something new. courage to build a new story. courage to forgive. courage to let go. courage to dream. courage to try. courage to believe. courage to risk hearts again. no doubt, some days i have more courage than others. i don’t know if any of you are aware how much your comments and emails and encouragement bring me bursts of courage now and then, some unexpected and wonderful reminder that fighting for authenticity and healing and inclusion and radical love for people is worth all this angst. i think we need each other to get courage. sure, i know a few people now and then that somehow find it on their own or in some powerful connection between just them and God, but most of us seem to need it from community–people who will look us in the eye and remind us to be brave, that change is possible, that where we are now is not where we will always be and encourage us to begin to move toward something different, no matter how small or big a step.
i think there are so many angles that can be explored about these two words personally, corporately. personally so many i know are getting in touch with their anger and stepping courageously into change. i’m trying to embrace anger when it comes and not run away from it and try to sweep it under the rug (and yes, that also means trying not to be a complete jerk in the midst of it). corporately, as more and more of you continue to leave “church” disenfranchised with “the way things are”, hopefully you will let your anger partner more openly with courage over time and move toward making things different, whatever that looks like.
regardless of where we are on the journey–personally, corporately–may we somehow be brave enough to draw on the strength of hope’s two beautiful daughters.
- what do these words stir up in you?
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ps: we are going camping at lake powell until next thursday with our kiddos and some dear friends. should be an adventure! no cell phone, no computer , and a beautiful and wild lake to water ski on. can’t wait to escape so see you next week!
pss: check out my friend craig spinks’ new adventure–recycle your faith. he is producing videos to spur conversation & thought about faith and spirituality and life. great stuff with more coming regularly. we’re going to use some of them at the refuge for a series of conversations on faith & doubt this fall.
ppss: don’t forget to go over to communitas collective if you haven’t already. it’s a resource site for people on the journey in & out of church. i am contributing regularly to verve, where the focus is on dreaming of new ways of living our church. two of my recent posts are: