Brene Brown is a research professor of University of Houston. She is the author of Braving the Wilderness and Rising Strong, among other books. Brown was the next to last speaker at Catalyst – and perhaps the best. Her words required my full attention, and still they were hard to comprehend. I’ll need to read her books to more fully understand.
I want to talk about belonging and true belonging. Maya Angelou was unsparing about violence, gender, and race. I read every performance, every book, every interview. I disagreed with only one quote: “You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”
When people sit across from you and tell you their stories two things will happen: praying and cussing. I was invited to speak at a church – but no cussing. I was invited to speak at a business – but no praying. Finally she understood the Maya Angelo quote: she belonged nowhere. But when you’re brave, you belong everywhere. We’re hard-wired for connection. When there is no belonging, there is always suffering. As we have become more “sorted” as Americans (living amongst those who think like we do), we’ve become just as lonely.
Belonging is something we carry in our heart. This is the hard news. The depth of our true belonging can never be greater than our courage to stand alone. What does it take to get to this place? Braving the wilderness. When you stand alone, it is full of wildness. It is terrifying.
We need to preach from a place of heart, not from a place of hurt. People are hard to hate close up. We need to move in closer. What side of humanity are you on? Dehumanization has always been the first step towards genocide. There is a false dichotomy of “you’re either for us or against us.”
Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to the power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Brene Brown calls that higher power God.
Don’t frame a debate in ways the personhood cannot be seen. Each person has value, whether or not you agree with their opinion.
A ministry of presence is the answer to collective pain. There is no courage without vulnerability. We don’t negotiate with belonging. We carry it in our heart. How different the world would be if you walked into churches and saw “Be you. Be seen. Belong.”
More so than any other time in US history, those of like mind live near each other, worship with each other, do life near and with each other. Yet we are lonelier now than we have been ever before. Loneliness is a better predictor of early than smoking a cigarette pack of day.
There is a spiritual crisis of disconnection. It’s tearing apart the social fabric of America. We have a call to courage, which is going to be very difficult.
The Four Practices of True Belonging. People are hard to hate close up. So many say: “I love mankind. It’s people that I can’t stand.” What side of humanity are you on? Dehumanization started with words. I never had questionable relationship with God. I had a tumultuous relationship with the church.
1. Speak truth to bullshit. Be civil. Lying is being aware of the truth. Bullshit has no reverence for the truth at all, which makes BS way harder to fight than lying. You need to understand the difference between truth and lying.
2. Curiosity. Ask questions.
3. Generosity. Give of yourself.
4. Civility. Hold hands with strangers. Our goal is to create collective, meaning experiences. Collective pain is a ministry of presence. Have a Strong Back. Soft front. Wild heart.
Some notes were stolen from Paul Sohn’s live blog. http://paulsohn.org/catalyst-2017-live-notes-brene-brown-on-braving-the-wilderness/
Brene’s speech was similar to the article she published on FastCompany.com. https://www.fastcompany.com/40465644/brene-brown-americas-crisis-of-disconnection-runs-deeper-than-politics
Lots of other good stuff on the internet by and about Brown. Definitely worth a second and third look. She doesn’t mix words, directly addressing the biggest issues of the day: racism, standing for the anthem, the media, social media, and more.
Christine Caine: If you haven’t had your coffee yet I feel sorry for you because you’re about to wake up!
You don’t want to just start courageous. You want to end courageous. Courage isn’t a one-time thing. Keep taking courageous steps. Courage is trusting what you know about God more than you know about the future. We must be courageous enough to cut some things away in order to possess the promised land.
You can ride on momentum and pretend that it’s courage. Stop looking for balance and start looking for fruit. I don’t know anyone who’s balanced who changed the world. Sometimes you need to shut your mouth and get on with the purpose of God. Stop venting and start leading. Then you might change the world.
The heart of the human problem is the human heart. Thank God there’s a cure. Every time God takes me to a new level, there’s a new devil.
Holiness and sanctification are not up for discussion in the Christian church. We need the courage to heal those broken and wounded around us.
Calling out sin is not a judgement issue. It is a freedom issue. We can be accused of committing spiritual malpractice by not being bold on sharing Jesus with others. If we don’t call out sin because we are worried about offending others, that’s spiritual malpractice. There’s a cure for sin. It’s called the blood of Jesus Christ.
What you don’t reveal, God cannot heal. The problem is we don’t want to be healed, we want to be fixed. Only Jesus transforms hearts, and only transformed hearts can truly change the world. We have to remember that it’s all about Jesus. Our opinions won’t change the world. Only Jesus can change the world.
In the wilderness we have barely enough. In the promised land we have enough to help others.
The way some of you rant on Twitter makes me think you aren’t reading your Bible. Make Jesus bigger then what they did or said about you. Have courage to move on from where you are. I don’t care what lap you’re on. Get up. Have the presence of God with you, and take another lap. Impossible is where God starts. Miracles is what God does.
Of all the names He could call us, Jesus calls us beloved. God’s love is not based on our behavior.
Following Jesus means following people who are lonely and hurting and in need. We don’t lead people to Jesus. Jesus leads people to Jesus. Find someone who creeps you out and find a way to love them how Jesus loves you.
It doesn’t make it more true to burn people’s opinions. It just makes you an arsonist. We need to be remembered not by our opinions but by our love. I don’t want people to meet my opinions. I want them to meet Jesus. Do you want to be right or do you want to be with Jesus?
You can’t really get to know Jesus if you don’t get to know the people He made. God doesn’t ask how is your life working out for you. He asks how is your life working for the people around you. What can you do with what you already have?
Forrest Gump: Sometimes there aren’t enough rocks. Bob Goff: There is always enough grace.
Robert Madu: fatherhood is the best hood.
There is a connection between the water (of baptism) and the wilderness (struggling). How is it that on Sunday you experience God’s presence but on Monday fear grips your heart? Tension is in the transition from the water to the wilderness. In the water the word came over Jesus, but in the wilderness the word came out of Jesus. Jesus didn’t just come to die the death we were to die. He came to live the life we were supposed to live.
It is the smile from heaven that attracts the scowl from hell. The enemy waits, watches, then attacks. To win the war you’ve got to first know where you are. Satan was waiting in the wilderness for Jesus. Know where you are. The enemy loves to battle you at the beginning of your journey. To win the war in the wilderness you have to know that the Word is your weapon. You have to know what’s at stake.
Repeat after me: I am loved. I am a child of God. And He is pleased with me. Know where your help comes from. Help comes from the Lord. He will sustain you. Have courage and look to Him.
The decisions you make today determine the stories you tell me tomorrow.