In a world of pain, can one person—one action—make a difference? Becca Stevens, author of Practically Divine, talks with Amy Julia Becker about the healing available through the practice, practicality, and presence of love in community.
“Becca Stevens is a speaker, social entrepreneur, author, priest, founder of ten non-profit justice initiatives, and President of Thistle Farms. She has been featured on PBS NewsHour, The Today Show, CNN, ABC World News, named a CNN Hero, and White House Champion of Change. Drawing from 25 years of leadership in mission-driven work, Becca leads important conversations across the country with an inspiring message that love is the strongest force for change in the world. Her newest book is Practically Divine, published by Harper Horizons.”
- Website: thistlefarms.org, beccastevens.org
- Instagram: @beccastevens
- Facebook: @revbeccastevens
- Twitter: @RevBeccaStevens
On the Podcast:
- On the Way: Lent devotional book
- Practically Divine by Becca Stevens
- To Be Made Well by Amy Julia Becker
- Thistle Farms
- Thistle Farms products
- Interview with Dorris Walker-Taylor
- Luke 5, Luke 17, Luke 7:36-50
- Becca on Instagram: @beccastevens
We are a reflection of love, so we are in the presence of love wherever we are.
I think of love as being active verbs that are practical, relevant, and scalable.
Love is a force for good. Love is something that, when we embrace it as this daily, practical way of living…is a way to grow our communities and to move us ahead on that path of healing and forgiveness.
Jesus equates gratitude with faith.
If there is going to be healing between you and me, it’s going to be messy, and it’s going to be intimate.
I am going to love in a brave way and trust that love will catch me when my heart breaks.
If you want to live into the practically divine, run to community; don’t walk. Go find the oldest entity the world knows for healing, which is community, meaning a safe group of people where your ideas are honored and where you hold each other up and hold each other accountable.
I’m a huge believer in that there is an actual connection between making things and reminding ourselves of our own creativity and our own beauty and our own spark of beauty and love that’s in that.
We’re not responsible for how people receive our gift. We’re just responsible for how we offer it.
It’s okay just to be friends with people too, without trying to be somebody’s hero.
When we come together to do this creative work, we can actually heal our communities economically, spiritually, in all kinds of ways.
This post contains affiliate links.
Season 5 of the Love Is Stronger Than Fear podcast connects to themes in my newest book, To Be Made Well, releasing Spring 2022…you can pre-order here! Learn more about my writing and speaking at amyjuliabecker.com.
*A transcript of this episode will be available within one business day, as well as a video with closed captions on my YouTube Channel.
Note: This transcript is autogenerated using speech recognition software and does contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.
Love is a force for good love is something that when we embrace it as this daily practical way of living, it is scalable. It is a way to grow our communities and to move us ahead on that path of healing and forgiveness, it is absolutely scalable. It is absolutely a good business model. It is absolutely the mission of the churches.
Amy Julia (32s):
Hi friends, I’m Amy, Julia Becker. And this is love is stronger than fear. A podcast about pursuing hope and healing in the midst of personal pain and social division. Today, I get to talk with Becca Stephens. I have been waiting to talk to Becca Stevens for like two years. And so I’m really excited about this today. Becca is an Episcopal priest. She is the president of thistle farms, which you will get to learn all about. As we talk today, I’m Becca also heads up the national network of sister organizations who are doing similar justice and healing work around the globe. So that is all really exciting. It’s a really beautiful way to talk about pain and healing and the power of love.
Amy Julia (1m 18s):
But there are a few things I want to also tell you before we jump into this conversation. So the first is back and I had a chance during this conversation. You’ll hear all about it, to talk about our shared love for potato chips. And one of the things she mentioned is that every lent she gives up potato chips. This was both a wonderful part of our conversation because lent is coming up and she made me think that giving up potato chips, which I eat religiously at lunch every single day, she made me think that giving up potato chips would be a really good spiritual discipline for me. So that was kind of the terrible part, but it was also the wonderful part because I am grateful for that suggestion.
Amy Julia (2m 2s):
And it was a reminder for me to tell you that lunch is coming. Lunch is a season for those of you who are not people familiar with the church calendar lent is a season of preparation for Easter, and it starts on March 2nd. I have written a daily devotional guide for the season of lent. It’s called on the way, walking with Jesus through the season of lent and it’s available on Amazon. So I did want to just take this opportunity to tell you about it. You can order it and use it through lent. And I promise there’s nowhere in there that it tells you, you need to stop eating potato chips. I also want to tell you that my new book to be made well is really close to being out in the world.
Amy Julia (2m 44s):
If you head over to my website and mutual yet becker.com, you can read an excerpt from it and you can pre-order it. And if you do that and tell us that you did it, you’ll receive some fun gifts. So all of that is fun. And finally, we are hosting a today for Becca’s new book, which we discussed on the episode today, it’s called practically divine. So check out the show notes for details on how you could win a copy of that. I’m really grateful to be sitting here virtually that is with Becca Stevens and Baca. I’m just so thankful that you are able to give us this time. Thank you for being here
Becca (3m 26s):
So happy to be here. And it was fun that I got your book I’m serious yesterday in the mail before this conversation. So it made it really fun to get, to see your picture and just a little blurb about who you are. So I’m very, very happy to be here.
Amy Julia (3m 40s):
Well, that makes me so happy to hear, because as listeners of this podcast may know, the book is not even coming out until March 15th. So you got an early sneak peek and I’m very happy about that. And it’s really fun to start seeing them out into the world, but we’re here today to talk about your book. And before we do that, however, I thought we should probably introduce you a little bit to listeners who don’t know who you are. I’ve been kind of following you from afar for at least 10 years, little fan girl over here, but for people who don’t know as much as I do, I’d love for you to talk about. I was thinking if you could maybe tell us about this’ll farms and how this’ll farms emerged out of your own story.
Amy Julia (4m 23s):
I thought that might give us the threads that we will then start pulling on as we talk in the rest of this interview.
Becca (4m 29s):
Absolutely. And I think probably those threads will just hopefully paint a picture about love and healing and pull them apart, but we can all just kind of find ourselves in that tapestry of, of those threads coming together. And that’s been my goal for my whole life is to figure out this, you know, these individual threads and how they come together to paint a picture about mercy and love in a beautiful way. And that’s really this’ll farms, you know, started 25 years ago. And it was working with women who are survivors of trafficking, addiction of all kinds of violence and exploitation, and just opened up a house and said in Nashville, Tennessee, and said, you know, come stay for two years free.
Becca (5m 23s):
There’ll be no authority in the house. And we’ll just provide you whatever resources you need for healing and so pain. And they did extraordinary work and they built this community and we opened more houses. And then we opened the first justice enterprise and then a second one and then a third one. And then we had a national network and then we had global community of partners. And so 25 years later, we’re the largest justice enterprise run by women survivors, making bath and body care products. We have the largest national network of women who have come together in an affiliated network who are survivors of trafficking and prostitution and addiction.
Becca (6m 8s):
You know, it’s been this amazing journey again of the single threads that keep weaving together. My personal thread was really about my own experience of trauma as a kid. I mean, my dad was a minister who was killed by a drunk driver when I was five. And after that, one of the leaders of the church where he administered sexually abused me and it went on for several years, my first memory, you know, is it six years old? And my last one is right before a turn nine, you know, it’s, it was a long haul, but that was one part of my story that I wove in, but it was also a story of great resilience.
Becca (6m 56s):
My mom was a widow at 35, with five kids. She was amazing and she was sweet and kind and powerful, stoic, and funny, all those things. And, you know, I learned from women’s groups around the country, what it meant to come together and try to make your community better and be safe and all those things. So all of that work together to really want to start a sanctuary for women. And that’s what I brought to the party.
Amy Julia (7m 26s):
Yeah. So I am, I want to hear a little bit more just in terms of that early, early trauma, that somehow translates over time into this beautiful healing space, not just for you, but for countless people. And not only for the women who are creating the beautiful products that you all put out. I mean, I literally have a gift closet in my house and every so often I just make an order of this’ll farms products and we’ve stock up on our love, heals, different sets. And it’s when somebody needs a gift and somebody has been diagnosed with something or whatever it is, we’ve got it there.
Amy Julia (8m 6s):
And we send out, you know, some bath salts or some body butter or whatever it is because there is a sense of even just the words, love heals on all of these products that you all create. And so I’m just curious, like, how do you go from this experience of deep, deep harm to this insistence of just those two words that love heals?
Becca (8m 28s):
First of all, that’s an amazing testimony. I had no idea that people stopped closets for gifts. I always thought it was just casseroles that you always had
Amy Julia (8m 37s):
On a bank. The casserole I’m just handing out soaps.
Becca (8m 41s):
No, no beautiful. If people did that, we would be in good shape. That is amazing. Thank you. Thank you. And I will say that for me, that honest to God, honest to God. I mean like my most truth is that I am so grateful and I started it because I’m deeply grateful. I’m not, is that not everybody who had my history had the same opportunities and, you know, just skated through some stuff, even though it was messed up, even though like, I mean, I was fairly dysfunctional, I will say in high school, like if you looked at some of the stories and behaviors and the, you know, over-sexualized a young girl and the overachiever, all of those crazy parts of me, but I get that there were so many people who showed me mercy.
Becca (9m 37s):
There were so many people who helped me. I mean, just to go to college, just scholarships we didn’t have. And you know, I mean, I got an education, I got people who were very, very kind and supportive. And I think what the transition was is that I never had a broken heart. That’s what I think. I think I always had a heart that was kind of, you know, I don’t know how to say it like broken open, but it wasn’t broken. Like there was nothing broken as far as like permanent damage. It was, it was this thing of like, I can’t turn away when I see somebody walking down the street and knowing what she’s going through and knowing what some of that license, not a lot of enough of it where I had no, a taste of it enough to understand that like it’s really scary, really bad and hurtful and all those things.
Becca (10m 30s):
And I knew that, you know, if I had the privilege seriously of ordination, I could do this work and open up the house for women. I knew I could do it. And you know, all along the way, there’s some people that have been such companions and joyful pilgrims with us in, you know, and I think about my husband. And when you talked about meeting 10 years ago, Marcus, who was buried for 35 years, I think something like that, like he was such a champion to begin with and just supportive, helpful. Wonderful. And it’s like, you know, this community was built on the strength of a lot of people who, again, wove those threads that you’re talking about other to create an amazing tapestry.
Becca (11m 17s):
So I’m very clear that I started out as a grateful beggar, beggar needing some support and help to be able to believe that love heals for me and for a lot of other women. And I believe it more than anything in my life now.
Amy Julia (11m 36s):
Right. I will. And we’ve for podcast listeners, who’ve been around for awhile. I got, had a chance to interview Doris whose last name I’m forgetting at the moment who is one of the thistle farms, ambassadors, I don’t know, maybe two years ago now. And her story is just one of those little, little stories, but such big story of what the power of the power of love to heal and, and the power of like, it’s never too late to, I just love the fact that she had so many years where she was not in a place of healing and then can really speak to the power of love in her life more recently. But anyway, I want to move to your book practically divine.
Amy Julia (12m 16s):
I’ve got it sitting here with me and I was just struck because really early on, this is a quote, you, right? We are all practically divine and in the presence of great love. And I just wanted to ask you to speak to both of those ideas. What does it mean to be practically divine? And what does it mean for all of us to be in the presence of great love
Becca (12m 37s):
To me, practically divine actually means that it means practically like useful. Like you’re practically divine, we’re useful. And practically is like almost with somebody that’s practically perfect or whatever it means folks, but it also means enough. You are enough. We are enough. And I think in the presence of great love is the reminder for those of us who are breathing, meaning all of us who are part angel, part dirt, that we are a reflection of love. So we are in the presence of love wherever we are.
Becca (13m 20s):
And the gift for me is to see where I am exactly right now. Like I don’t want to wait till like I lose 10 pounds to my kids are all through school till, you know, I have enough money in my savings account, whatever that thing is. That’s holding me back from being perfectly fine right now. And in the presence of that great love to honestly see the past with some clarity, be in the present and see the possibility. That’s it. That’s what I mean. That’s what I think being in the presence of bright love does, it’s like, okay, I’m right here.
Becca (13m 60s):
And there’s all kinds of possibilities I’m in.
Amy Julia (14m 4s):
I love that. And I’m thinking about another place in your book where you write about the difference between acceptance and healing and I’m thinking because it’s, so there are a couple of things here. There’s one, the like I’m kind of waiting once later on, I’ll do the healing later on. I’ll get the love later on, you know, and so I I’d love to hear you talk a little bit more about that difference between acceptance and healing and also what it takes to actually experience that deep healing. You know, again, whether that’s from your own story or from what you’ve seen in the women you’ve worked with, but just what’s the difference between acceptance and healing and what does it take to move from one to the next?
Becca (14m 48s):
You know, I think they’re both powerful concepts. I think for me, acceptance is more passive than healing, which sounds like this intentional way of walking, working towards wholeness. When I think of healing, I don’t think of a miracle cure. Like if I just accept all this and I’ll feel all better thing, is this really hard, intentional walk that we’re making towards feeling whole remember practically divine. So one’s a very active word and one is not as active for me and in my life. I think what I’ve learned is that nothing is, you know, it’s not a straight path from here to there forgiveness, healing, those aren’t moments.
Becca (15m 35s):
Those are not events. That’s a process. I mean, forgiveness is a journey. It’s a process and a people hate the word journey now, but it is this way. We have to say, this is our intention. This is our practices. You know, so for example, what I would say is that it takes discipline to be someone that is forgiving someone that is healing. It takes very much disciplined life. And when I say disciplined, I mean that we are willing to have daily rituals that help us be in that mindset, whether it’s drinking tea or taking walks or breathing or praying, lighting a candle for a woman on the street.
Becca (16m 19s):
I mean like these are I do every day so that we can actually do this work that is so hard and may heal the world. If we all did it together, I think of love as being active verbs that are practical, relevant and scalable. And that’s it. Sorry.
Amy Julia (16m 43s):
No, no, I, I kind of want to go back to the scalable part there. Yeah, actually, let’s just pause there for a minute. When you say more about like scalable, what does that mean for, for love to be scalable?
Becca (16m 57s):
Well, I think people are like afraid to talk about love sometimes like love heals or where are these healing beings? If we’re in a business situation, if we’re in this growth of church situation, whatever the place we find ourselves in it’s like, love is great in this idealistic, beautiful space. But when we’re really talking about the practicality and the growth of ministry or our personal finances or our businesses or whatever, it’s like, well, then we don’t need to really have, we don’t need to talk about love in those situations, but I’m saying this idea that love is a force for good love is something that when we embrace it as this daily practical way of living, it is scalable.
Becca (17m 43s):
It is a way to grow our communities and to move us ahead on that path of and forgiveness. It is absolutely scalable. It is absolutely a good business model. It is absolutely the mission of the churches. That’s what I think.
Amy Julia (18m 0s):
And I’m, it makes me think of, I’ve been paying a lot attention to healing stories in the gospels because that’s what this new book to be made well is about. And I was looking at Luke five where a man with leprosy comes to Jesus and says, if you’re willing, you’ll make me well, or I’ll be made clean. And you know, Jesus says I’m willing. And then Jesus tells him not to go and say anything to anyone and he can’t help himself. So he tells everybody what has happened to him. And then it says, so other people essentially flocked to Jesus for healing. And it just gave me this. The thing that came to mind was healing, but gets healing like that. There is this, you know, the saying hurt.
Amy Julia (18m 41s):
People, hurt people and healed people, bring healing into the world. There’s this generative quality. And I think that’s true for love as well, that there is a sense of it grows upon itself. And that’s what it made me think of when you said it’s scalable, right? Like it, it insists on growing, not as a takeover, but as a natural abundant embrace of it, can’t be contained love. Can’t be contained or kind of held back when it is actually able to be expressed and given, you know, from one person to another.
Becca (19m 17s):
Absolutely. That’s so beautiful. You said that so well, I love it.
Amy Julia (19m 21s):
Oh, thank you. I’m thinking. Oh no, go ahead.
Becca (19m 26s):
Well, one thing I want to add to that though, on those stories of healing in the gospels that I love so much, I mean, they have shaped my life. Is that just two quick things that I’ve learned in those stories too, is the other story of all the lepers getting healed and one coming back and giving things you just said, you know, your gratitude, your faith has made you well, I’m sorry. He says your faith has made you well. Which is the time in the gospel that I finally learned that gratitude is face. Jesus equates gratitude and faith. Now your gratitude has made you well, but your faith has made you well. And if I can get to thank you, then I’ll probably be much better on the healing journey.
Becca (20m 8s):
And then the last one is just when the woman pores the oils on the feet of Jesus, whoever that woman is and whatever the situation is. And however it looks because all those details get confusing. To me. One thing I know is that if you pour a bottle of oils onto someone’s feet, it’s very messy. And I keep thinking about what she did after she poured it out. And after Jesus made this proclamation about, you know, how she’s been this faithful, loving, compassionate person and she’s well, but that, what I get is that if there is going to be healing between you and me, it’s going to be messy. Hmm.
Becca (20m 48s):
And it’s going to be intimate. So those are the things I love what you’re saying about healing begets healing. And I also think we have to be willing to be intimate and messy and we have to get to thank you.
Amy Julia (21m 1s):
I love all of that so much. And the other thing it makes me think about is the word vulnerability, which I think is related to intimacy, but also related to messiness like that sense of, I guess, the root of vulnerable is able to be wounded. So it’s both what allows us. I think vulnerability is what allows us that intimate love and also what opens us up to hurt. And I, I think there it’s in practically divine, you write about a relationship between a willingness to be hurt and an invitation to love because we can cut ourselves off from love in order to protect ourselves. But there there’s this relationship, I guess, between being hurt and being experiencing love or risking hurt and experiencing love.
Amy Julia (21m 48s):
And I’m curious for people who have been hurt really deeply and are just really tempted or in a practice of building that wall and not being vulnerable, like w what do you, how do we continue to make ourselves vulnerable in a world where we know that we’re going to get wounded, even if we might be able to hold out hope for love.
Becca (22m 11s):
That’s a beautiful question. I’ve kind of think in my life I’m 35, like I said, years into my marriage. And I’m just kind of getting what the whole idea is. You lay down one’s life for another person, really what that deep way. And I know other people have gotten, and I’m sure most of your listeners have gotten it long before that. But as a priest, you know, I’ve been a priest in the Episcopal church for three decades. I mean, not that that’s a lot, I mean, some of my work, but it’s forms kind of how I understand the world, I would say. And what a kind of thing people should say is instead of, will you marry me?
Becca (22m 51s):
Is, will you bury me? Like, will you do that for me? And I’ll do that for you that, you know, that’s the ultimate act of love is bearing one another. Like, I will stay with you and bear the pain. And then one of us will break the other one’s heart at the end. Yeah. And it’s a reminder of God. That is how we are beloved by God is that we are not trying to get out of this without pain. We know that that’s not the option. The question is it the pain of loving or the pain of not loving for me. And so I’m not saying I’m going to, I don’t think like loving somebody is trying to avoid the pain.
Becca (23m 33s):
I think it’s diving into it in a different way. Right? My sister’s husband, dad, just this last year, she’s been going through it on a number levels and I’m listening to her and her husband, dad suddenly it was just out of the blue and listened to her going like, you know, what I’m doing is I’m being her sister and I’m grieving with her, but I’m also learning from her. Cause I know that like, if the fates make it where, you know, I outlive my husband, I am walking in that step or my husband is walking in those shoes. And this is, you know, I’ve, I had a sister that died and watched her husband.
Becca (24m 15s):
And now I have a sister whose husband died. And it’s like watching this unfold at, you know, and everybody was in their fifties when my dad, right. So it was not like they were super, super old or anything, but it was like, you know, we’re not getting out of this. Even if you stay faithful to your spouse, even if you do this work or whatever it is, whatever it is in our lives, it’s not like we’re going to avoid the pain. It’s just saying, I’m going to love in a brave way. And trust that love will catch me when my heartbreaks
Amy Julia (24m 50s):
Well, and I think we live in a culture that is so built around trying to avoid or distract ourselves from pain. It, it is so scary to us. And yet to your point, when we are willing to accept that that is a part of life and that love is present in the midst of pain. I mean, to your back, to your point about being in the presence of great love at all times, there’s tremendous beauty that can come there. I think a lot about the idea of like sacrificial love and how sometimes I think we put the emphasis on the sacrifice instead of on the love. And they’re, they’re, they’re really interrelated. Like I don’t think that we have love without sacrifice, but the point is not.
Amy Julia (25m 33s):
I’m going to go sacrifice myself today. The point is, this is always going to be a part of what it means to love someone else. And yet love also always has its own reward for lack of a better word. There is that sense of, as you said, being broken open instead of being broken, when love is animating our behavior towards one another. And again, I don’t think that in any way, like gets us out of pain. It might even actually mean more pain. It’s hard to protect ourselves from pain in general, but especially if we’re really willing to go for it and, and participate in love.
Amy Julia (26m 15s):
But there’s just tremendous beauty in those spaces too. So like it’s not an either or,
Becca (26m 24s):
Well, the other thing is that it’s not either or ever, I mean for anybody. So one of the gifts of community of coming together and what I say in my mind is like, if you want to live into the practically divine run to community, don’t walk on the oldest entity. The world knows for healing, which is community, a safe group of people where your ideas are honored and where you hold each other up and hold each other accountable, all of that. But the two examples of community that really live into the principles you’re talking about for me is one, is like, so I’m at Vanderbilt university as a chaplain. We had this service every year around all saints day.
Becca (27m 5s):
So it’s around Halloween. And all we do is we invite people to bring photos of people they love, who have died, have this beautiful altar with all those images. And we have candles from this’ll farms. There it’s this, I mean, it’s huge at the divinity school at Vanderbilt university, it’s a big service. Hundreds of people come. And then we read the names off of everybody who is a family member of anybody in the community who has died, that they want remembered at the alter and we play music and we read the names slowly. That’s the whole sermon for the day that preaches. And when you look out, people are weeping, right?
Becca (27m 48s):
And you remember, there are very few spaces left in this whole world where you’re invited to come and sit and just cry for love or the amazing gift that has been for the cost. And just to say, I’m looking at this image, I’m hearing the name and by God, I’m going to cry today because I have the gift of grieving. And that’s what my heart is choosing to do. The other things that we sit in, a circle, thistle farms every week. And we sit with women who have been there a week. People have been there 20 years, whatever, and it’s everybody. And we say, we light this candle for the woman on the street. And the woman trying to find a way home. That’s always one of the candles we make.
Becca (28m 29s):
And then we go around the room and in any given circle, there’s somebody that is like, oh my gosh, I have four years clean today. And everybody claps or, you know, I just graduated or got a car or I’m getting married, whatever it is. And then there’s another woman whose son is overdosed, who was 18 years old, or a woman who just found out she has Hep C or somebody who realizes that her court costs are three times as what she thought it was. She doesn’t know if she’ll ever be able to drive again. And in love that circle can hold both that the celebrating pain and everybody in that circle knows it’s going to switch, who has felt, who was in that pain.
Becca (29m 16s):
And that’s my favorite thing about community holding all of that healing and love.
Amy Julia (29m 21s):
Thank you for that image. And I think that there is so much of a need to trust one another with both the celebration and the pain. I’m also, I wanted to ask you about the, the making of things I’ve been wondering about. So if there’s a farmer is one of the, one of the, I think aspects of healing for these women is like actually making whether it’s candles or, you know, lotions or soaps or oils. And I’ve been thinking about the idea of an object or a product being made well, and the idea of healing as us being made well or knowing that we are made well, right. And that idea of making beautiful, good things and recognizing our own goodness and allowing that to be some part of our, our healing.
Amy Julia (30m 11s):
I’m just wondering if you see the act of making stuff, how it’s related to the process of healing.
Becca (30m 20s):
Yeah. And I’m a huge believer in that, that there is an actual connection between making things and reminding ourselves of our own creativity and our own beauty and our own spark of beauty and love that’s in that. I love that. And I like that you pick that up in the book, and that was really one of my mom’s mantras. We can make it, we can do this and it’s economical, it’s practical. So it fits into that part. And it’s divine. And I’m not talking about people that have to be Picassos and create the amazing art pieces. I’m talking about how women for ever have come together to have a sewing circle or make items for their church, bizarre or come together to learn how to tie down whatever it is.
Becca (31m 5s):
It’s healing oils. How do you blend sandalwood and rose hips to make something amazing for your face? You know, like whatever that is the reason that I think it’s honest to God revolutionary, right? I think it’s extraordinary is it’s, you know, when women come together to do these crafts, it’s therapeutic, we talk story you and I become friends in the making of even this podcast. That’s a craft. It’s the idea that you’re trying to heal villages in the world. You know, they say rape a woman, kill a village, invest in women, heal a village that when we do these coming together to do this creative work, we can actually heal our communities economically, spiritually, you know, in all kinds of ways.
Becca (31m 59s):
But also think it’s this reminder of like, sometimes I don’t remember I’m beautiful or practically divine. Like I see something completely different, but when I can show you the socks on knit and you say those are beautiful. Oh my gosh, I made those. If I can make beautiful, maybe I am.
Amy Julia (32m 23s):
I love that this is, I meant to read this when I was asking the question. So I’ll just throw it in as kind of the, you know, Coda to what you just said. I have Lee, this is from your book. I’ve lived long enough to begin to understand that arts and crafts are revolutionary tools for healing and justice. And I think that into my last question for you, which is, comes from the last chapter of the book. So it’s called the feast. And this is another quote, part of the struggle for folks wanting to get involved is thinking that issues are too big. And I am too small. All I have is a bag of chips and hungry. People are on street corners all over the overwhelming feeling is inadequacy. So we keep the chips in the pantry and turn away when we see someone looking hungry.
Amy Julia (33m 4s):
So in the midst of the need, which is so large, and those of us who feel really small and the people who yeah. Are like all of God has a bag of chips and feel totally inadequate in the face of this need. What, what would you say?
Becca (33m 22s):
I would say that I use chips on purpose, partly because it is the story of how some women have come off the streets and partly it’s, that’s what I have to give up. Every lent. I love anything. They’re
Amy Julia (33m 34s):
Tips every day with my lunch. I’m with you.
Becca (33m 38s):
I love potato chips, any kind of potato chips, this homemade chips that are now artists and chips, whatever it can be lays, whatever. So, I mean, when I say chips, I don’t say that lightly. I say it reverently. So the reason I say that is that also, it seems like something like that nobody would want, but some people really do value chips. And don’t forget that is that stuck in your pantry that not may seem like not much to you. Maybe you’ve had value to somebody else and we’re not responsible, responsible for how people receive our gift. We’re just responsible for how we offer it.
Becca (34m 19s):
I mean, what’s the spirit behind the offering of the chips. I mean, are you offering chips because you know, you have amazing cheese and crackers that you don’t want to share and you think throw away or are the chips something that’s like, I think this would be a fun gift for people I’d like to share this. I mean, what is your, the intention behind it? And also it’s like, I’m not ashamed of chips, even though it’s not, doesn’t seem fancy or whatever. It’s like, I wouldn’t be ashamed of what my offering is. I would just offer it in a way that honors the giver and honors the receiver and knowing again that it can be kinda messy and it may be kind of intimate and it may be all those things we talked about before, but you don’t have to like completely stress about it.
Becca (35m 10s):
Cause just a bag of chips. Don’t take it so seriously and don’t have to over-complicate it. Sometimes that’s the other thing is I think communities or individuals intellectualized stuff to the point where there’s nothing left and sometimes just go give somebody a bag of chips and ask them how they’re doing.
Amy Julia (35m 30s):
Right. I think we can think that we have to do more, then we are able to do. And so we don’t do anything at all, instead of saying, what does it mean for me to relate as a fellow limited and frail and also glorious and powerful human being with this other limited and frail and glorious human being.
Becca (35m 55s):
Yeah. So as a fellow chip lever, we could bond over that Levers. Let’s call them and say, you know, it that’s, the other thing is like, it’s like, it’s okay. It’s it’s it’s okay. Just to be friends with people too, without trying to be somebody’s hero. I think sometimes we think like, I have to be, if I’m offering you a bag of chips, then maybe I need to be your hero and fix everything in your life. It’s like, I don’t even want you to be my hero. People want to be hero of their own story. And that includes all the women I’ve served for 25 years at this’ll farms. What they need are people who are good hosts, who can set a table who can help them imagine a face who can offer some resources in space, but you go get to be your own hero.
Amy Julia (36m 41s):
And I think there’s also a sense of I’m thinking back to you describing the circle of women who can celebrate and grieve, you know, in the same space in part, because they know that neither one lasts forever for anyone. And I think about, I remember when our daughter was first born and diagnosed with down syndrome, my husband had about 24 hours of kind of darkness and anger and sorrow that he would say, I mean, I have never been able to understand, but then he popped right back up to the top of the water and swam to shore and dried off and was all good. And that 16 years later has not ever gone back. It took me about a year to get to shore.
Amy Julia (37m 23s):
I never went so deep and dark. I knew it took a long time. And I remember him saying like, I’m sorry, kind of, do you need me to be with you in your sorrow? And I said, no, no, no. You are giving me hope for where I’m headed. I can trust that. You’re not judging me for continuing to be in a place that’s dark and hard, but you also are showing me where I want to go, but it wasn’t the sense of like Hammond, a place of superiority and me and a place of only of need. There was some sense of reciprocity there that gave me hope instead of feeling condemned. And I just wonder about that in terms of all of these, what it is that I have to offer to someone who doesn’t have a bag of chips, you know, it’s not my altruism or my charity or my superiority.
Amy Julia (38m 15s):
It’s just my heart. Like it’s just my human humanity connecting with another person’s humanity. Like I happen to have a bag of chips. Would you like them? I mean, and, and I know that can sound almost trite, but it also can be really true that we can just connect to anyone if we’re willing to see the practically divine in one another.
Becca (38m 39s):
Absolutely. That you said that so beautifully. And I love the idea of finding your way back to shore, because that is a great metaphor for what it feels like to be on solid ground, where you do feel love and you do feel practically divine. Hmm.
Amy Julia (38m 54s):
Well, I think that’s a good place to end this conversation, even though I would love to talk for hours and I’m sure people would love to hear more, but they can read your book. And I think we get to give away a copy of your book as a part of this podcast. So that’s exciting. And I just, again, wanted to say thank you for being here today.
Becca (39m 12s):
Thank you. And if anybody wants to DMH feel free, we get more referrals through social media than anywhere else. I’m Becca Stevens on Instagram. I’m happy to answer any messages you send me. If you want to talk more about any of it, anybody
Amy Julia (39m 28s):
That is awesome. Thank you so much. I will be sure we’ll put that in the show notes as well.
Becca (39m 34s):
Amy Julia (39m 38s):
Thanks so much for listening to love is stronger than fear. Do remember to check the show notes and learn how to win a copy of practically divine and also head on over to my website so you can check out the excerpt from, to be made well and perhaps decide you want to pre-order it. I as always would be really grateful if you shared this episode with other people, I’m sure there are other people who could really benefit from what Becca has to say about love and feeling and goodness. So I would love for you to help get this out into the world. Other ways you can do that is by subscribing to this podcast. And if you’re feeling like extra special, excited, and generous today, you could give it a quick rating or review wherever you find your podcasts, because that’s another way to help other people find and benefit from these conversations.
Amy Julia (40m 28s):
I’m also thankful to Jake Hansen who edits this podcast to Amber bury my social media coordinator. She is amazing and such a tremendous support in everything that I do. And I am thankful for you. So as you go into your day today, I hope, and I pray that you will carry with you. The peace that comes from believing that love is stronger than fear.
We’re giving away a copy of Practically Divine. To enter, complete the following 2 steps:
- Follow Amy Julia Becker on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.
- Share this podcast episode on one of those social media platforms and tag Amy Julia when you share OR find this episode’s post on one of Amy Julia’s social media accounts and comment about why you would like to win this book or tag a friend!
Thank you to Thistle Farms for the giveaway. Shipping to continental US addresses only. This giveaway ends on Saturday, February 26, 2022, at 11:59 pm EST.
Learn more with Amy Julia:
- To Be Made Well: An Invitation to Wholeness, Healing, and Hope
- S4 E8 | How Love Rescued Me From the Streets with Dorris Walker-Taylor
- Giving Gifts from Thistle Farms
If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to receive regular updates and news. You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Goodreads, and you can subscribe to my Love Is Stronger Than Fear podcast on your favorite podcast platforms.