Quarantine Queen (and Kings!): Episode 07

Kate Bowler – You Can Be Afraid & Faithful

What do you do when you believe God is good, that He has a plans to give us hope and a future, and yet the reality of what we’re living is . . . well, it’s hard. And sad. So how do we reconcile having hard feelings and holding onto faith? Times like these call for experts who’ve walked hard paths before, and we have that leader in the incredible Kate Bowler, an associate professor at Duke Divinity School and NYT bestselling author of Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved. After Kate walked through a Stage IV cancer diagnosis at 35 years old, she’s gained some hard-earned wisdom that she shares abundantly, like how to manage our moments when we can’t plan for the future (spoiler alert: look for signs of hope in the in-between space). Plus, Kate reminds us that the language of the Christian faith isn’t always self-improvement—there’s a purpose to our pain, and it’s something we need to talk about, because we can be scared and still be faithful. Let’s be honest: we’re living through a really hard season. But even right now, God is still here with us. 
Hey everybody, welcome to our special edition Quarantine Queens series of the For the Love Podcast. The team and I were talking, and we were like, "We need to talk to someone who has been through a really hard thing already. They have hard-fought lessons in their hands to share. We need to speak to somebody who has been to the wilderness and has survived and have come back to tell the tale and lead us well."

And I'm telling you, I had one person on my list that I wanted to speak to us as a spiritual leader, as someone who could pastor us through this moment because I know her and I know her story. And I know she is a faithful witness to the work required right now.

If you do not already know Kate Bowler, it is my joy to introduce her to you today. Kate, she's just a real special thing. She's an associate professor of the History of Christianity in North America at Duke Divinity School (I don't know if you've heard of it, but it's, like, a little university that's doing okay). And Kate is a New York Times bestselling author of several excellent books, but especially for our purpose of today, you may want to learn more about her book called Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved. I mean, on the nose, you guys. She wrote that book after she was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer at 35 years old, which we talk about a little bit today. She also has a podcast called Everything Happens, sort of spinning off this idea where she talks to people about how they have learned to live inside pain and struggle and loss and hang on to hope and faith and love.

So long story short, Kate is exactly who we need right now. Exactly. I want you to follow her on every single social media platform. I want you to sit under her leadership. I'm telling you I can't think of a better guide and I’m so, so grateful to her for coming on the show today. This conversation is going to mean so much to you, and it closes with a very beautiful prayer that Kate prays over us together and it is just . . . I'm so glad you're here today.

PS: Listen, I don't know if you heard the news, but I am delighted to tell you two things. 
  1. The April 14th in-person live event has been rescheduled for September 9th in Dallas. Same venue, September 9th.

  2. The April 14th event is also going to be transformed in to a webcast! Woo! Which will be coming straight to your screen on April 30th. And my lovely special guests that were going to hang out with us, Brené Brown and Anjelah Johnson, will still be joining us for the webcast. 
So how do you join the webcast fun? Super easy, you guys.

First, if you already bought a ticket to the Dallas event, you're in. Mmkay?

Second, if you've preordered my new book, Fierce Free and Full of Fire in any format, any vendor, you're in.

And third, if you're in the Jen Hatmaker Book Club you're in.

So all you have to do is go to jenhatmaker.com/fierceevent and register for the webcast. So easy. You have to register, even if you're in one of those categories.

And if you're not eligible for the webcast yet, we want to have you. We would love to have you! so to be eligible, you can either buy tickets to the rescheduled live event on September 9th or just preorder the book! Preorder Fierce, Free and Full of Fire, any vendor, any format. And then boom, go to go register for the webcast. That's it. That's how you get in.

We are so excited to bring this to you. You can do all of these things at jenhatmaker.com/fierceevent.

International Justice Mission is the largest anti-slavery organization in the world. They work to rescue people out of slavery and sex trafficking, and they walk with survivors until they are thriving in freedom.
I'm a longtime fan of IJM. In fact, I went to Rwanda several years ago where I got to see their work up close, and I was absolutely flabbergasted by the level of awesome IJM is operating at in the world.

So in times like these, IJM's stories remind us that on the other side of tragedy, there can still be hope. Go to ijm.org/shareshopenow to watch some inspiring stories of hope for yourself today. And share them with your friends, because we need these. We need good stories right now. 

Quotes from this Episode
“The rhythm of everything is so different. I'm trying to figure out what does it feel to give your best gift in a season of really limited resources because none of us have any extra.”
—Kate Bowler

“I realize every day sort of has a series of batteries in it. For instance, I've had chronic cancer, and so I have a lot of pain. So sometimes my pain battery is really low—as in, I haven't had enough physical therapy and stuff like that. So every day I try to do a ‘battery check’ and be like, ‘Okay, what am I lowest on? I'm never going to be topped up, but what am I middle on? What can I afford to let slide for the day?’ I try to just do the best with what little I have every day and just take it day by day.”
– Kate Bowler

“I was so good at planning, and I was sort of addicted to that little middle place where you're just always expecting the next thing. Like, "Oh, and when this comes around." And then when that got taken away, for a while, I just felt like I was stuck in a kind of silence. I found it, frankly, really hard to relate to people because everybody very naturally speaks in the language of the future.”
– Kate Bowler, on living with a Stage IV cancer diagnosis

“We live in this culture that is obsessed with dealing with our own fear by training ourselves into positive thinking and speaking. And I think as Christians, we've gotten confused—we've imagined this as the only language of faith.”
– Kate Bowler

“Life is not always going to get better, and we as Christians need to be okay saying that without accusing each other of being unfaithful. But just because it's not going to get better, it doesn't mean it can't still be good and beautiful and true. And in this space, especially around the part of the Christian story we're in, where we understand Jesus' own suffering, we have to be okay with a language that isn't always demanding that we say that that life is a self-improvement project.”
– Kate Bowler

“So what does it mean to feel hope now? What we have in the Christian story is what they said to do now, frankly. They said, ‘Oh, we look for witnesses. We look for signs of hope. We're like little spiritual detectives that go around looking for signs of hope in the middle of the not-yet.’”
– Kate Bowler

“Our hearts are broken open for all these people right now who don't have enough. But man, in the middle of that, God promises, one, ‘I will be there. I swear to you, I will be there. That is my A-game.’ And two, that in the middle of that, we look to each other and we look to the world, and we look for the little glimmers that God is already here. Then we remind each other and then we do that. And we love each other until this is over.”
– Kate Bowler

“Oh man, we are nothing without each other. We were never made to be these adorable, individualistic, hyper-productive super achievers. We just weren't. We're allowed to be fragile and ridiculous and lonely because we were never really supposed to be alone. So I'm hoping we just feel so comfortable being as limited as we are and we won't feel like we have to pretend quite as much anymore.”
– Kate Bowler, on life after quarantine

“If you've been through something hard, you're kind of broken open. Because you can't pretend, you notice when other people can't pretend anymore. And it's been really just moving me to feel so comfortable wanting us all to just pray together, frankly, and to want to recognize [those] who are more vulnerable.”
– Kate Bowler

“I am in a beautiful position of having stuff to give. So if you're like me and you were fragile, but now you have a little extra, it feels so good to remember, ‘Man, now's the give time.’ And if you're one of the fragile people, then you just get all the permission to be like, ‘Oh this is the take season. There are people out there who want to give.’ We should lean into that and feel so comfortable knowing that when we wake up and we've got extra, be the extra. That's how we're built. That's what we're for.”
– Kate Bowler