Pastoral Study Project Grant Writing: Shame Under the Pews and in the Choir Loft

*I would like to thank the Louisville Institute for generously providing a Pastoral Study Project grant which supported the writing of this reflection.  

Shame Under the Pews and in the Choir Loft

There is a conversation we need to have in the church.  It is a tough one but we can do it.  Because in Christ we can do hard things tougher.  

It’s the conversation about shame.  

We need to talk about how shame is used to control clergy, church leaders, parishioners, the next generation.  We need to talk about how shame steals our joy in Christ.  We need to name things that we feel in our guts but perhaps the words have alluded us.  

I remember visiting a congregation and the pastor who was new to this pastorate greeted me and said to the usher with a laugh, “She’s a pastor.  Let’s treat her right!”  My sense was this was a fun light-hearted way of honoring the fact that I, too, was a fellow leader in Christ’s church.  but the usher was having none of it.  No favoritism in this church.  No special treatment here.  While handing me the bulletin he said brusquely, “Well, don’t expect any special treatment.”

What just happened there?

I don’t know that man’s personal story but knowing the congregation’s history I knew that a beloved former pastor had had an affair with a member of the church staff.  This congregation had followed his vision, went into debt to build for the vision, and then the sky fell.  There was deep hurt and mistrust; pain and damage that will linger for decades.  No, this usher wasn’t going to let another clergy member get special treatment or instant gratitude or trust on his watch.

While this man may needed to go back to usher class 101 on welcome, knowing the history of the congregation put it in context. This man was wounded, he talked before he thought and perhaps our exchange was an anomaly.  Perhaps he tickled baby toes and got extra crayons for toddlers and smiled to the elderly woman who wore an air of, “I don’t know how much longer I can keep doing this.”  as she shuttled her blank-eyed husband through the crowd as he asked repeatedly, “Where are we?  What is this place?”  

Maybe he did and I was just a trigger for him.  Maybe I hit a sore spot.

But maybe he didn’t and he wasback the next week handing out bulletins. 

We struggle to hold people accountable in churches because people are volunteering their time and we don’t want to cause a stink, we don’t have a structure of accountability, there are power dynamics that go back generations, so we just look away and pray for the best.

This may have worked when Christendom was robust in America, in the suburbs that boomed after WW II and, if the tales are right, the churches were so full, Sunday School had to be held in the trunks of people’s station wagons because every square inch of church floor tile was occupied with neighbors who gathered to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ died and risen to free them from the bonds of sin, death, and the Devil.  

Maybe then it won’t have mattered so much in a culture and time when a little shame was understood to contribute to self-control and proper manners.  To a proper sense of one’s place in society.

But this isn’t 1958.  And this isn’t a culture that defaults to Christian practices any longer.  In fact, this is a time and a place when suspicion and mistrust of organized religion is high as the sky.  Just like the usher, lots of us want to see authenticity before we will buy in.

So we need to have this conversation about shame.  

We need to take a look at where shame shows up in our liturgy, our preaching, our doctrine, our practice.  

It won’t be easy.  If we are honest in this endeavor, lots could change.  But in the spirit of the Reformation and the pounding of the 95 Thesis on the Wittenberg Castle Church door 500 years ago, we believe that God is always reforming the church.  Sempre Reformada.

Thanks to researchers we now know so much more about the nuances between shame, guilt, and humiliation than previous generations.  We know that when we are in shame - feeling that we are inherently flawed and unworthy of love and belong according to Brené Brown, we respond in ways that parallel fight, flight, or freeze.  When we are in shame, the amygdala in our brain takes over and our amygdala doesn’t provide higher functioning skills.  When we are in shame, our actions and behaviors aren’t going to serve others, the Body of Christ, and ourselves in edifying ways.  We will shrink, act out, or simply disappear.  

Shame creeps under the pews and lurks in the fellowship hall broom closet.  Shame is used to control behavior.  Some would say it is effective.  For example, when shame is used in a school classroom, behavior may quickly change.  Yet, someone’s sense of self-worth is attacked and they might behave like they wished they were invisible.  We all have a threshold for how much shame we can tolerate before we simply disengage to protect ourselves.  We have a threshold for how much toxicity we can tolerate and once we’ve reached it, we shut down, we disengage, we leave whether it is physically or emotionally.

Shame always destroys.  It always separates.  It always strips our humanity and being created in the Image of God (Imago Dei) away.  

Shame has no place in the Kingdom of God.  

And yet, 

And yet, shame has a stronghold in lots of our churches.  Shame shows up in fear, in judgment, secrecy, silence, and isolation.  It isn’t that we want the shame; for many of us we just haven’t experienced a life-altering, ego-overthrowing, transformational encounter with Jesus.  To be honest about the deal.  

It isn’t that the shame is our first or best choice; in our guts or some deep holy Temple of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19) place we know that.  We just don’t know how to wrap our arms around this thing that is so pervasive it just seems . . . well. . . like life.

“Shame whispers lies into our souls about who we are in our spirits.  It immobilizes us with fear of exposure.  It causes us to retreat furthering ourselves or strike out against the perceived accusers.  In the end, we remain unknown and disconnected” (Harper, 70).  Harper continues, “Shame is insidious.  It hits at the core of our being and emanates from there to affect everything else.  It has nothing to do with the truth.  It is based on lies about the essence of our being” (70-71).  

Shame is the basis for death-dealing theological thinking.  Things like:

  • God doesn’t like me or love me.  God couldn’t possibly forgive this sin.
  • The Bible has lots of scary stories so I can’t trust God.
  • If I’m just nice enough, God will reward me.
  • God wants me to suffer.

When the dynamics of shame and blame gain traction in a congregation it hastens the process of decline because it demoralizes us.  It is draining to constantly live in scarcity and the shadow of death, even when we are resurrection people, being called every day to again live knowing God brings life out of death.  Shame will be one of the dynamics that prevents us from closing churches well with grace.  Shame will have us blame the synod or the last church council or the last pastor or the highway department that built a sound barrier right next to our parking lot.  There will always be responsibility among leaders.  Absolutely.  Where there has been a breach of relationship, let us repent and seek forgiveness.  Blame isn’t about responsibility or accountability.  Blame is concisely about one’s own internal emotional process.  Blame, “Is the discharge of pain” according to Brené Brown.

So let’s avoid blaming each other or our situation and: 

  1. talk about the pain , the grief, perhaps even the shame of being the generation that ‘couldn’t keep the church going.’  Name what is real.  This is harder than it sounds.  It feels safer to blame or stay in our heads than to admit in our hearts what we thought would be stable in the way we thought it would be stable isn’t as permanent as we’d hoped.  And it is OK not to do this perfectly.  You’ve never done this before.
  2. Share stories.  Tell how God worked in the good ol’ days and how God is working even now.  To have a good closing.  A holy closing.  A good-good-bye.  
  3. Remember this is a time of stripping away the adiaphora.  That has to be my favorite word from seminary.  Adiaphora; the secondary things.  This is when we are drawn back to re-discover was is core.  And what is core is God’s grace found in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  That Jesus came as Immanuel; God with us.  That God wants a relationship with us.  That God kisses your forehead each time you step into the sun.  That God soothes your heart each time a friend tells you, “it is going to be ok.”  God is active in this world.  Right.  Now.  This Christian adventure won’t be done until God says it is.
  4. Ask for what we need.  To close and end well, do you want a pew?  Do you literally want the back pew to put in your house?  Do you need to see the youth room one last time?  How many ‘You’ve run the race” hymn sings can you have?  
  5. Take care of your physical wellbeing.  We live in our heads often, but pain lives in our bodies.  Rest.  Walk.  Do yoga.  Sing.  Garden.  Feed your soul and if you don’t know what feeds your soul, find out.  

Maybe being in the shadow of death will give us permission to let go of structures and practices that don’t serve us well.  That have become shackles on our hearts.  What happens when you say, “If we are going to die, let’s die well.”  From working with folks on hospice I know wrestling with that question and authentically living into it, can make all the difference.  And in Jesus Christ, we die and rise.  We rise well; rise whole.


Works Cited

Harper, Lisa Sharon.  The Very Good Gospel:  How Everything Wrong can be Made Right.  New York: WaterBrook, 2016.

Pastoral Study Project Grant Writings; The Reason Behind Seeing with New Eyes

* I would like to thank the Louisville Institute for graciously providing support through the Pastoral Study Project grant to make this reflection possible.

The Reason Behind Seeing Old Words with New Eyes

“Is this true?”

Our daughter took to reading early and has read many books well beyond her grade level.  When she was in first grade, I recall giving her the Children’s Bible I had had as a child.  Maybe you had one of these too.  It was Bible stories and then every fifth page or so you were rewarded with a beautifully drawn picture to illustrate the story.  These pictures weren’t the doe-eyed Fisher Price figurine found in my Precious Moments Bible but realistically rendered drawings.  

I thought it was beautiful to get the Word of God into her hands.

Until she called to me one evening while I was making supper.  These little words bubbled up with a crack in her voice, “Is this true?”  

Is what true?  Are you reading about the witch of Endor?  Did you read about the violation of Dinah and her brothers’ revenge?  What was in A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories that would strike this quaver of worry in her voice?

And then she showed me the picture.  It was Isaac bond laying on the palette of dry timber ready to be sacrificed. 

Who puts this stuff in a Children’s Bible?  How do we understand ‘fear and love the Lord.”  What message is this to communicate to a tender-hearted 6 year old?!?!  Some children would read this story and say, “That’s weird.”  and then move on to play Legos; untouched by the gravity of what God commanded; not experiencing the story in a personal way.  That.  Is.  Not.  Our.  Daughter.  

Instinctively, I knew in my mother’s heart what my daughter needed and a thorough arc of the Biblical narrative, wasn’t it.  A theological explanation of how God was testing Abraham and God’s intent was never to do it, wasn’t it.  Even explaining the contextual background that all the pagan religions that were surrounding Abraham and Sarah) offered children to their gods so this was really a way to show the neighbors the kind heart of God and how God provides, wasn’t it.  Even though in the corner of picture there was a ram God had provided, wasn’t it.

She needed reassurance.  She needed to know that would never happen to her.  She needed to know that God won’t do this.  Now.  To someone she loved.  To her.   

My initial response went something like this as I was keenly aware pork chops would be blackened in the pan in about 3 minutes, “I know this is scary, sweetie.  I don’t like this story, either.  But this was a long time ago before God sent Jesus and Jesus shows us God’s heart of love for us.  In your baptism God promised to never let you go.”  

“But is this true?  Did God ask him to do this?”

Fear oozed from every word.  Why had I given her this remnant from my childhood?  Why hadn’t I stuck to Strawberry Shortcake dolls and parachute pants?

She didn’t care about true in a theological sense or true in a historical sense or even true in a ‘the inerrancy of the Word of God.” kind of way.

She wanted to know if it was true in the the deepest sense of her fear.  Was this true in a relational sense?  Can I trust God?  Will God ask this of my parents?  Can I trust my parents?  Why would God do that? 

Is it true in that sense?

And thus, the seeds were planted in my heart to start growing a new reading of Scripture, mining for the little nuggets of God’s grace and movement that have always been there; they just don’t get the airtime.  This isn’t superimposing something into Scripture that isn’t there; it is seeing with new eyes; Especially for us who have been raised in the church and have a historical understanding of what the story is ‘suppose’ to mean.  As Robert Walter says, “There are no gaps in the Bible but there are gaps in our preaching.”

Now, I’m curious about things like:

  • Jesus praying his disciples would have joy at the Last Supper (John 17:13). What would shift if we preached about this?  John says this joy would keep the disciples from the Devil.  We miss this because of the larger themes we are tasked with on Maundy Thursday - the washing of the feet, the Institution of the Holy Communion, the new commandment, then the betrayal and the Garden.  A little verse talking about joy gets lost in it all.
  • In Mark 5 - when the woman who had been hemorrhaging is at the feet of Jesus, she tells Jesus the whole truth.  If God’s grace is Incarnational in the presence of Jesus, what does it mean that the woman got to share the whole story?  And the crowd who, of course, worked on assumptions, got to hear it.  Our whole story matters to God.  Whole is complete.  When we think about healing ministries, discipleship models, children’s education, how are we failing or supporting to welcome the whole person as Jesus did?
  • In Matthew 5:48, can’t we just get a different word here for telios?  The translation perfect?  Think of all the negative baggage this can saddle those of us who already are geared to protect and hide ourselves in perfection.  This translation can drive us to despair.  Why do we codify perfect as the best translation when we have other options available to us that don’t carry the emotional and cultural baggage as ‘perfect’ does and that provide a more true, in my opinion, understanding of the Trinity?  Whole, complete, fully formed.  These three translations, I believe support a growth mindset.  Carol Dweck has shown a growth mindset leads to improved student outcomes.  This mindset is correlated with students taking greater risks and harder classes.  Educators and innovators want to see emerging leaders with a growth mindset, rather than a fixed mindset that easily puts things in categories that are stagnant and unmoving.  “I’m stupid at math.”  compared to “Math is hard and I’m working really hard to get it.” which represents a growth mindset.  
  • Psalm 121 which quietly and humbly invites us to know what we know and to trust God for the rest.  This chapter is just 3 little verses - what if this was a mantra we came back to again and again in those very moments fear of God’s wrath erupted.

What would shift?  What would change?  What would be made fresh and new in our hearts if we noticed these more?  These reflections are intended to keep looking and asking.

But back to that lingering question, “Is this true?”

I said to our daughter, “This is a story.  The Bible has lots of stories.  God won’t do this; let’s focus on the stories of Jesus for awhile.” 

I was still angry at the publishers of this edition - why this story?  In a children’s Bible?  If I could talk to these editors who worked in 1948 putting this together, I imagine a primary goal for them was to educate Christian children about our faith.  To make sure they knew the story - the whole story.  The good, the bad, the ugly.  My sense is their lens would be knowledge and a cognitive approach leads to proper understanding and theology which leads to proper faith.  Our culture loves living in our heads.

But when my daughter called, I wasn’t acting as a properly trained theologian because proper theology wasn’t going to grow my daughter’s relationship with God.  It would have been a disservice to her in that moment.  And that is the difference.  I wanted her to have a relationship with God where she felt safe enough to ask again and again, “Is this true?”  and not pretend it didn’t scare her.  And not pretend she understood it or even agreed with it.  And not pretend that is wasn’t offensive.  

And not pretend.

Isn’t that a true living faith?

Methodology of these Reflections:

These reflections have graciously been made possible by the Louisville Institute who funded this Pastoral Study Project grant and I am deeply grateful.  I am deeply grateful for the gift of hitting pause on my ministry responsibilities to dwell deeply in reflection, renewal, and wonderings.  Perhaps I raise more wonderings and questions and acknowledge I don’t provide exhaustive answers to them.  I believe this wholehearted life in Christ is an ever-unfolding and keeping of awareness.  Thus, I find grace to let this be enough in this current moment; to put an amen to these current thoughts.  

There has been the pull throughout writing these reflections to throw down an ecclesiastical soteriology, hermeneutical exegesis but that would just be to show off and puff up.  Instead, I’ve written from the simpleness of my heart.  I’ve cried a few times while writing these, not from the onerous task of writing but because the words that flowed from my fingers felt like truth and I knew I could trust that as God’s gift. 

I’m grateful to the following theologians who agreed to spend a bit of time reflecting with me on the topics of shame, authenticity, and vulnerability in church settings.  

Dr. Walter Brueggemann

Dr. Karoline Lewis, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN

Dr. Lois Malcolm, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN

Father Theodore Niklasson

Dr. Faith Ngugngiri, Concordia College, Moorhead, MN

Rev. Robert Walter

Getting Our Afrave On

Afrave.  That has been my favorite mash-up word for awhile.  Afraid and brave all rolled into one.  Afraid and brave all at the same time.  Afraid and brave together; kind of like an arena version of saint and sinner; simul justus et peccator.  

As I present and lead retreats with church leaders and congregational members, one of the common responses that come when we talk about what keeps us out of the arena,  - of really showing up in our lives in ways that are authentic and agentic for us, of really showing up for the things we believe in and hold to be true, of really hanging in there for difficult conversations about difficult topics - of which there are many . . . is fear.  

Fear of not knowing enough.

Fear of getting it wrong.

Fear of offending someone who has power over our lives.

Fear of making a mistake.

Fear of upsetting the status quo or established dance in a relationship/system.

Fear of caring too much and having our heart broken.

Fear is powerful.  We know that.  We feel it.  We all have stories of when fear dictated our actions because it felt like the best option at the time. 


Yet, what if we gave ourselves permission (one of Brené’s encouraged practices to fully show up for what we believe in) to get grounded in prayer and to do it anyway?

What if ‘anyway’ became a holy word of invitation?  What if we surrounded ourselves with a community of ‘anyway’ people - our marble jar people, our empathy seats people who are with and for us and we are with and for them.  

What if we showed up anyway even when the fear is screaming in our heads, “Don’t do it!”  What if . . . we were afrave?  Not waiting to conquer or tame the fear before we show up in our faith but we say, “This matters to me, this is my sense of God’s call in my life, I’m doing it anyway.  I can be afrave.  That is good enough right now.  I trust God’s good work happens in people who are afrave.”  

I wonder if the many times when Jesus tells his disciples to not be afraid or an angel tells a scared mortal to not be afraid, that this isn’t a reproach of their sinfulness but rather a holy invitation to see and be part of God’s good work in the moment.  That because God is present, new life came and will come and that transforms everything - including our fears.  New life that comes because God is good and has seen fit to dwell among us.  

I wonder as Moses stuttered and stutter-stepped his way back to Egypt and then out again, if he was afrave.  I wonder if Jonah felt a little afrave washed up on the beach.  I wonder if Mary felt afrave in the pre-dawn light making her way to the tomb.

I wonder if afrave walks us onto holy ground.  

I wonder. . . 

I wonder.  



Daring and Rising on the Cusp

Daring and Rising on the Cusp

"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."       Psalm 90:12

As 2016 is now being counted in hours, this verse from Psalm 90 is a helpful reminder that God's timing isn't the same as ours.  And a heart of wisdom grounds us when we go into the arena, when we are committed to being brave in our lives, when we want to authentically be connected to other people and to God in life-giving ways.  

A heart of wisdom calms us when the shame gremlins come out to play; play with our emotions, play with what we see as truth, play with our possibilities and paths forward.  Those shame gremlins are always scurrying around saying, 'do more, have more, be more . . . hid more.'  They are the masters of exhaustion!

But a heart of wisdom, grounds us in God's love and grace that are bigger, broader, bolder than our imagination.  A heart of wisdom is cultivated through calm and still (one of Brené's guideposts for wholehearted living), through prayer, through daring trust and gracious empathy that encourages us to be more honest and authentic.  The Holy Spirit works in us to grow a heart of wisdom.

I'm grateful at the end of 2016 for all the amazing church leaders and congregational members who have joined me in this wholehearted daring and rising journey.  Being more courageous and joy-filled isn't always easy work; patterns and systems want to return to homeostatis.  But this is God's good work and I look forward to being part of what God is doing with this in 2017.

What if I AM?

Maybe you spend more time than you’d like on thoughts such as:

What if I am shot down when I put myself out there?
What if I am less effective in ministry than I dreamed I’d be?
What If I am not as beloved as I had hoped I’d be?
What if I am losing out on opportunities? 
What if I am falling behind my own expectations or the expectations of others?

What if I am . . .

For many of us these four little words start our thoughts when we are in the arena or feeling vulnerable and exposed. ‘What if’ can drive a loop of anxiety that keeps us small; feeling like invisible is safer. Our thinking goes, ‘If I can only figure out and master the what if I will be ok. . . if I can outrun, out plan, out wit the ‘what if’ I can avoid feeling the pain of it.’

Moses knew this inner critical voice too. He knew self doubt, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh?” and to the Israelites, “They will not believe me.” Variations on ‘what if’ sprinkled across Exodus 3 and 4.

And God says, “I am who I am.” I am with you. I have you. You are mine. You will go into the arena but not alone. Never alone.

I’ve gotten curious lately about these words. And when we get curious we get new endings. So, I’ve been thinking, ‘what if the ‘what if’ looks different?’

Because it can look, sound, and feel different.

What if the I am becomes I AM who I am?

What if I AM walks with me into the arena?What if I am knows my heart and calls me beloved?
What if I AM’s love is for me no matter what happens when I feel less than?
What if I AM has fearfully and wonderfully made me?
What if I AM’s voice is the loudest one in the arena shouting, “I love YOU.”

What if this was the first voice we listened for and the one that gets the last word when we practice courage?

With God’s call - with I AM - things shift; they are still hard but we shift to we can do hard things. In God’s strength, we can do hard things.

Have Yourself a 'Good Enough' Christmas

Have Yourself a Good Enough Christmas

We are used to hearing and humming along to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”  Some of us are perhaps ready to be done hearing it on the radio.  This year, in the midst of the holiday hustle and frenzy I’ve switched the words to “Have Yourself a Good Enough Christmas.”  

Good enough is perhaps what we say when we’ve run out of time and can’t work on something any longer; or we’ve given all we have to give and we have to trust that what we’ve produced will be sufficient.  There also is the connotation with ‘good enough’ that it could be better; but this will have to do.  Honestly, sometimes saying, “it’s good enough” can feel like falling short.  

So, my hope and my prayer is that you and I do have a ‘good enough’ Christmas, for a few reasons.  The first is regardless of what gets done or is left undone, if there are typos in the Candlelight Service bulletin, if you make cranberry sauce from scratch, or if your Christmas cards arrive in the New Year, God sends Immanuel and it is good.  Our work and efforts don't change what God has done.  God sends Jesus and it is so good. . .   And it is enough.  It already is a good enough Christmas because Christmas is God’s good and God’s enough.  God’s good is enough.  That’s the good news of a great joy (Luke 2:10).

Secondly, as I’ve practiced this Advent preparing a ‘good enough’ Christmas I’m trusting the Holy Spirit to work more, there is more centeredness and capacity to be present in the current moment.  Good enough allows me to let go of some of that perfection in order to receive more self-compassion. 

As I reflect on this year of supporting church leaders and congregations in growing deeper in faith through exploring how Brené Brown’s research connects to life in Christ, I’m so grateful for all those who have said yes! to being part of this journey.  We are better and more courageous together when we create safe space to share our stories and thus more equipped to serve and lead for God’s good in this hurting suffering world.  

We are doing good work together. . . and trusting God, it is enough.  

Rachel's Heart

Rachel's Heart

I love this picture.  I’m pretty sure I always will.  The reason?  Because my friend’s heart was open to God to bless me.  It doesn’t get any better than that.  Loved by God through a friend.  Loved by a friend through God.  It all is connected.

    Here’s the story - the whole truth - I’m Psalm 15ing it here.  After filming our promotional video telling church leaders about our work bringing the Daring Way™ to Faith Communities, I was in a total vulnerability hangover - in this video I was putting myself out there - not under the radar but actively telling about the work I’m passionate about and why I’m passionate.  And not only did we record the video, the plan was to send it to people.  Real people.

    The thing hadn’t even been edited yet and I was playing out how mean-spirited attacks were coming my way.  I perseverated on how I should have said, “The resurrection of Jesus.”  Instead of “Easter.”  Saying “the resurrection of Jesus” would have made the video . . . better.  My thoughts went like this, “I should have been more specific . . . but Easter is a distinctively Christian word . . . but what’s the connection again, to ancient pagan holidays?” I could hear picky comments that I wasn’t Christian enough.  That this wasn’t Christian enough.  (By the way, these are things shame likes to say - not enough.  And whenever we are practicing being vulnerable shame will be lurking around.)

    What to do?!?  I read a devotional, prayed. . . and ate more chocolate chips . . . and found myself crying on the couch with my husband and kids giving me love . . . until our youngest asked if that was enough and he could go build a table.  

    And then there was a ding from my phone and this picture from my friend Rachel came through with the simple words, “Found this on the north shore…  Be strong and courageous dear friend!

    Total gift; total blessing.  So I cried some more; more tears of gratitude for God’s presence and friends who proclaim Christ to me.  I emailed her telling about my vulnerability hangover.  She emailed back “It was a God thing. I walked over this so many times and today I saw it and something said Sarah needs this. We can do hard things.”     

    It was simple.  There’s the thing, in faith, God gives enough.  It may not seem like enough, but it always is.  


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Sharing My Heart

     The end of July I was in TX with Brené, the leadership team, and the other Case Consultants getting trained on the Rising Strong curriculum.  As case consultants, we guide new candidates in integrating the Daring Way™ material into their context.  I have the unique position of being an ordained clergy member in this group of about 50 coaches, researchers, therapists, and counselors; so I am constantly learning and growing each time we are together.             

    The next day the room was buzzing with the energy 140 new candidates brought.  Brené asked the case consultants to stand and share a bit about who we are and what we do.

    I love how Psalm 15 talks about those who dwell in the Lord’s sanctuary speak the truth from their hearts.  That is what I wanted to do; to really share my heart.  So I said, 

    “What gets me up in the morning and keeps me up waaaaay too late at night is my big daring dream that this work can heal, transform, and ignite congregations.  As a pastor myself for many years, I know where shame and scarcity lurk in the church basement.  In order to support this dream, I lead workshops, intensives and small groups for clergy and church leaders, do individual coaching, and love to do guest preaching.”

I went with my heart; not just what I do but the passion God’s planted in my heart for uniting faith and courage with Brené's research.  Creating safe scared spaces for clergy to speak truth about their struggles, seeing the a-ha's women have on retreat when they can now name what shame is, and linking all of this with the resurrection of Jesus.  What God is doing in all this that was the best part - and it gets me so excited!

The next best part?  The sense what I spoke really connected; there was head nodding, laughter, and some audible, “yeahs!”  A few people stopped to say how inspired they were.  This connection reinforced for me just how much openness, hunger, and fertile ground there is right now in the church for us to do develop our resiliency skills as Christ's servants. 

    The next best part?  I left with the sense it really connected; there was head nodding, laughter, and some audible, “yeahs!”  A few people stopped to say how inspired they were.  This connection reinforced for me just how much openness, hunger, and fertile ground there is right now in the church for us to do develop our resiliency skills.  We want more real in our faith communities.  I think we want more real everywhere - more authentic real connection with each other.

    We are hungry to live into Psalm 15:2b when we ‘speak the truth from our hearts.’  I believe the Holy Spirit is moving in these Daring Way™ for Faith Community events to help us do just that . . . and to live in response to God’s grace.