hope's two beautiful daughters

hopes two daughters
 
 “hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are anger and courage. anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain as they are.”

– 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?

* * * * *

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:

  • dreams are much prettier when they’re just dreams
  • we have a dream.

the other two blogs there—sanctuary for wanderers and survivor for burned out pastors & leaders—have some really good stuff on it i think many of you might connect with…enjoy.

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

13 Comments

  • Having had similar life experiences as you about anger – I was always comforted by the words ‘in your anger sin not’. That gave me permission to feel it, talk about it and use it as a springboard to effect changes as God gave the boldness to do so. Oh, this is a deep topic! Hubby and I have never let the sun set on our feelings of anger, but resolved things or agreed to disagree, before we laid our heads on the pillow. What a gift of grace that has been!

    When we as believers are angry and hurt at the fact that “things are not as they should be” whether in our own lives, families, churches, how much more does this touch the heart of God who is perfect??? I can only imagine.

    Reply
  • Kathy, what a timely post for me. I feel like I’ve come through and now left behind all my anger what what happened to me at the hands of religion. I love, however, what has now taken its place: A fury (and that is not too strong of a word) for what I see and hear religion doing to others. It is soul-sucking, maiming, and nearly killing so many people and when I come in contact with someone that has nearly been destroyed by it, this fury just rises up in me because it’s everything opposite of what Jesus was about.

    The reason I love that fury that has been left behind is because it moves me to action and to compassion. I think Jesus also displayed fury when he saw the burdens being placed on people at the hands of religion, you know? Yes, you know!

    Have a great vacation!

    Reply
  • When I first saw this quote I loved it as well…then I saw it was by Augustine and got angry! He continuously perplexes me!! 🙂
    anyway….my dad always says a person needs to “get their blood boiling at least once a week” he managed to keep his at a low boil all the time and then erupt when least expected. The concept of being angry & using it as a positive force is one that has intrigued me most of my life. More often than not I think my courage is drenched in frustration of not knowing what to do & I end up feeling helpless. Thanks for all these good things you come up with for us to ponder!!!

    Reply
  • Well kathy I think I can say that when in comes to the church (that word) I think you and I are angry and many of the same things.

    Someone recently told me that they had the impression that I just hate churches and Christians.

    The truth is I’m passionately in love with both and it is why I say and write the things I do. However I believe that church as has been practiced for about 1500 years is broken, because it is not the Church Christ is building.

    However I do hate religion and dead traditions and lists of does and don’ts… And as I said in my blog and on Facebook some time ago I believe Institutional Church + Religion = a high maintenance obligation management vehicle powered by a high octane blend of shame and fear!

    Tom

    Reply
  • Great post. I think the church has done huge damage in subtly and also in some more obvious ways telling us to suppress our emotions.
    “We must not let our emotions come in to our worship”
    “We must always know that God is in control so therefore can thank him when we are suffering as he is teaching us a lesson”
    “God himself has no emotions (Westminster Confession of Faith Section 1 Part 6), if he did it would deny his impassibility and would therefore insinuate change on his behalf; any times it speaks of emotions in scripture it is anthropomorphic, etc etc etc….”

    Where has the picture gone of a passionate God who is jealous for us and has chased after us to bring us into the great trinitarian dance? Anger is such a valid emotion and one that God used so often to show his pain at his people constantly turning from him. Yet what did he do? It was as if this anger poured more fuel on his outrageous plan to step into our darkness to show us, truly exactly what he thinks of us. He loves us. He has hope for us. Hope that none will perish, he is so passionate for humanity that he doesn’t even delight when the wicked die. He knows that we are all created in his image and all have unsurpassable worth (because of Him, not us) as all were worth his Son dying for and for some reason he chooses to work with us to bring his HOPE to the people around us.

    I remember talking to my Dad about the death of my brother (he was 6 months old and older than me so I won’t meet him till I get to heaven) and he said his anger at the situation fueled his desire to know more of God’s character. He would not settle for cliche Christian answers of God’s hidden will and ‘you’ll see someday that this was for good’. He knew that there was something more of God to be revealed than that and he wanted to know if his Father in heaven could truly be trusted.
    His anger didn’t just turn to hope, but it found hope as hope is a person and that person is Jesus and he pointed the way to his Father.

    I’m so glad that we won’t get to heaven and have to apologise for overestimating God’s goodness and grace.

    Reply
  • Well done, kathy … I’m blogging through a book on handling anger over at my place. Anger and courage … yes.

    Hope you have a great time!

    Reply
  • I have been angry for so long. And while I have tried over the years to tell myself it is okay to be angry as long as I didn’t “sin” I have only recently come to understand that God is in the center of my anger and He is angry too.
    Thank you, Kathy, once again.

    Reply
  • Anger is not an emotion I have experienced much – but boy have I known it the last few months. I have so much to learn.

    Reply
  • Yeah… anger…. and courage. Hmm… it took anger at what my ex-pastor was doing to his congregation (especially one particular one) to spark to courage to walk away – the courage to look at the system and see what a sham it really is.

    I’m still in the process of working through a lot of anger…at a lot of things. But Augustine was right on this one. Anger and courage do walk together.

    Thanks for this post. It has helped clarify this for me a little more. 🙂

    Reply
  • karin – thanks for your thoughts here, it is always great to hear all kinds of different perspectives and way this plays out. i take comfort in that passage, too, and think about it often. the problem with it sometime is interpretation of what “sin” looks like related to it; people are all over the place on what that might look like, hence, some of the trepidation about expressing it, i am guessing. i think there’s much to learn about expressing anger in a healthy way. thanks for sharing!

    tracy – oh i love the word! i love what you said here: “(fury) moves me to action and compassion” i am so with you! i will share our camping war stories later, needless to say we call it: survivor 2009: lake powell.

    donna – i know, i am really mixed on augustine. sometimes i love him, sometimes i can’t stand him! i am so with you on how confusing anger can be when we haven’t had the greatest models for it.

    tom – yeah, i always say that it is interesting how people will tolerate and remain completely passive about all kinds of true injustices against different groups of hurting people in the world, but say one negative thing about the church and swords will come out a-blazing!

    ferg – oh thank you for your beautiful thoughts here about anger, God’s passion, and allowing our real feelings to be used for good. lovely. i did not know that was in the westminster confession “God has no emotions” come on, that makes no sense with the Bible i read.

    brother maynard – thanks for the link love

    peggy – finally you are in my blogreader! don’t know how i missed that for so long but somehow i did! good stuff, as always.

    minnow – i am glad you’re letting yourself get in touch with it… you are not alone.

    jennifer – nice to hear from you at the carnival. thanks for taking time to comment. yeah, i’m learning a lot about it, too.

    katherine – i’m glad it helps. i liked the thought a lot, too…

    Reply

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