dark blue graphic with intertwined blue and yellow partial circles on the left and text that says: Reimagining the Good Life with Amy Julia Becker. In the middle of the graphic is a a photo Katherine Wolf. On the far right is a photo of Amy Julia.

S7 E 16 | Hope That Heals in a World That Hurts with Katherine Wolf


How do you hold onto hope in the midst of suffering? How can we trust in the goodness of God in a world of pain? What does the good life look like in the midst of disability and uncertainty? Katherine Wolf, author with Alex Wolf of Treasures in the Dark, survived a massive brain stem stroke at the age of 26 and continues her recovery to this day. She offers thoughtful, beautiful answers to these questions as she talks with Amy Julia Becker about: 

  • Her personal journey of suffering and hope
  • Practices and habits of hope
  • Caring for others in pain
  • Differences between hope and toxic positivity
  • The non-linear journey and unexpected realities of healing

FREE RESOURCE: 10 Ways to Move Toward a Good Future (especially for families affected by disability)

Guest Bio:

Katherine & Jay Wolf are communicators and advocates. They married and moved to Los Angeles to pursue careers in law and the entertainment industry. Their son, James was born in 2007, and six months later Katherine’s life nearly ended with a catastrophic stroke. Miraculously, she survived and continues her recovery to this day, including having a miracle baby, John in 2015. Katherine and Jay have shared their journey of steadfast hope through their books, Hope Heals and Suffer Strong, and at speaking events both live and online before millions. Together, they founded Hope Heals camp, a community for families with disabilities like them. Katherine, Jay and their two sons live in the Atlanta area. To connect, visit hopeheals.com or @hopeheals

Connect Online:

On the Podcast:

YouTube video with closed captions

Let’s Reimagine the Good Life together.

Note: This transcript is autogenerated using speech recognition software and does contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.

Amy Julia (00:07)
How do we hold on to hope in the midst of suffering? How can we trust in the goodness of God in a world of pain?

What does the good life look like in the midst of disability and uncertainty? This is Amy Julia Becker, and you are listening to Reimagining the Good Life, a podcast about challenging the assumptions about what makes life good, proclaiming the inherent belovedness of every human being, and envisioning a world of belonging. My guest today is Katherine Wolf. Katherine and her husband Jay are the founders of Hope Heals. You have probably heard me speak both

to Katherine, about Katherine, and about Hope Heal’s on this podcast before. But in case you are unfamiliar, I will also just let you know that she is a speaker. She’s a podcast host of her own podcast, The Good Hard Story. She’s an author several times over, and she’s also one of my favorite human beings. So we’re going to talk today about her most recent book, co -written with Alex Wolf, Katherine’s sister -in -law. And this book is called Treasures in the Dark, and it is a treasure,

as is Katherine. Before I get to our conversation, I wanted to also let you know that I have a free resource available for a limited time. It’s called 10 Ways to Move Toward a Good Future, especially for families with disability. You can click on the link in the show notes or go to amyjuliabecker .com backslash future. And just to tell you a little bit about this download, it is a list of 10 ways we have learned to move towards a good future.

This is for any family affected by disability and I would love for you to get that for yourself and share it with others. Okay, here’s my conversation with Katherine Wolf.

Well, I’m sitting here with Katherine Wolf, my friend, and,

Amy Julia (01:58)
Katherine, I just want to start by saying it’s so wonderful to have you here with us today.

Katherine (02:03)
Oh, I’m so, so excited to be here. I love your podcast so much. I’m a huge fan.

Amy Julia (02:10)
Well, we are mutual mutual admirers. Is that what they say? Because I also love your podcast. And for people who are listening to this podcast, if you don’t know about the Good Hard Story podcast, you should check it out because Katherine does some awesome individual episodes where she does teaching. And then she also has fantastic guests occasionally, including me.

Katherine (02:30)
Like you and especially I have an ongoing series called Ask Amy Julia my resident Disability theologian where I made them a theme song. Would you like to hear it? Thank you. Yes, you would. Ask Amy Julia ask Amy Julia got a hard question ask Amy Julia. Oh, yeah Do you know? Oh my god, I have to tell you this I

Amy Julia (02:56)
I mean…

Katherine (02:59)
I was at a speaking event in Austin, Texas. A lady rushes up to me and she says, I love you so much, Katherine. I flew here. This was the most direct flight from Canada somewhere in central Canada to meet you in Austin, Texas, because I’m such a fan. She immediately says, ask Amy Julia.

Amy Julia (03:04)



Katherine (03:27)
The way she identified me was by the Ask Amy Julia song, I’m dead serious. You can ask Susan who travels with me who was there. It was wild.

Amy Julia (03:36)
Well, it is quite a memorable song and I am delighted to hear that. That’s amazing.

Katherine (03:44)
I was blown away.

Amy Julia (03:45)
All right, well, today I get to ask Katherine all sorts of questions because we are here to talk about your new book, which I have to say. So one of the perks of being a podcaster is that I get books for free. So I got this book for free, you know, an advanced copy. And I am not even kidding that I have in the meantime ordered 10 of them because I have so many people I want to give it to. And I’m not no one’s paying me to say this. I’m that is just the honest truth. And I.

Katherine (04:05)

Amy Julia (04:12)
Don’t do that with most of my podcast guests, even though I love their books. But this is not only a really rich and beautiful book in its own right, but it’s such a book to like, yeah, give to people. I know it’s exactly what you wanted it to be, but we’ll get there, we’ll get there. Okay, so.

Katherine (04:27)
We’ll get there, but I’m with you. I was prepping for a conference I’m speaking at next weekend and reading some entries from the book to kind of try to summarize some concepts. And I’m upstairs weeping, thinking of the women in the room who need to hear what I’m about to say from this book.

Amy Julia (04:35)

No, it’s so true. It’s just, there’s like this real sense of, you know, your other books are beautiful as well, but you can tell that this is like 15 years into the journey. Like there’s been time to really, yeah, to really marinate and to really learn and to really grow and heal. So well before, okay, for anyone who does not know your story, let’s start there, right? So can you give us the short version of the Katherine Wolf Hope Heals story?

Katherine (04:57)
That’s it. I’m gonna…

I feel it.


Absolutely. At 26 years old with no medical history, no family history, completely typically able -bodied before with no prior symptoms, perfectly healthy in every way, and probably life, perfect life, at least in my very misguided thinking.

Amy Julia (05:35)

Mm -hmm.

Katherine (05:40)
that I mistakenly would have called blessed, I’m sure. Anyway, out of nowhere, I had a massive, massive, massive brainstem stroke from a birth defect that I never knew I had, but I was born with that grew and grew on my brainstem and ruptured as a 26 year old. And it nearly took my life. I would be in hospitals and rehabs.

Amy Julia (05:44)

Katherine (06:10)
for nearly two years afterwards, relearning basic function to eat and speak and walk again. And fast forward big time, I’m fairly disabled today. I cannot walk well unassisted. I use a wheelchair. I have a hand that doesn’t work much. It has no fine motor.

I have a paralyzed face. I have deafness in one ear, near blindness in one eye, extreme double vision. So I’m seeing Amy Julia and Amy Julia right here. And many more health problems are in this story, but life is like awesome. I’m living the dream.

Amy Julia (07:00)

Katherine (07:05)
Truly, my life is full of just absolutely amazing things from a incredible husband to phenomenal children. Yes, I went on to have a second baby biologically. And my husband and I founded a summer camp that Amy Joy has an incredible teacher at each summer. And we’re opening a coffee shop here in Atlanta.

And we’ve written some books and talked a lot about it. Is that a good summary?

Amy Julia (07:36)
Mm, love it. It’s a great summary and we’re going to get to get into some of the details there. So, yeah, I mean, I always love talking to you, but specifically today I wanted to talk to you about this book. It’s called Treasures in the Dark, 90 Reflections on Finding Bright Hope Hidden in the Hurting. And well, this book is structured in three parts, right? So there are 30 entries on the hurting, 30 for the healing and 30 for the hoping. And I thought…

Katherine (08:05)
You know the reason for that?

Amy Julia (08:06)
Yeah. Tell me.

Katherine (08:10)
I think you actually very much know because you’ve lived it. We who have lost and grieved much know that the whole notion of a linear devotional trajectory straight up is so ludicrous that you need hurting and hoping and healing and the ability to choose your own adventure because…

Healing is not linear. You feel differently every day. You’re all over the place and grief is not like oh I’ve now tied the bow and move on to this new chapter of life. That’s all about just healing from where I’ve been. No, you’re back into chapter one and then you’re at the last one and by the way I’m choosing not to call this a devotional even though that’s a great temptation.

Because devotional to me at least implies, um, a, maybe some church baggage and church hurt is present and you’re weirded out by devotional. Or it implies that something could be neatly fixed with a bow. If you just read this book and it’s going to make your mornings better and you’re gonna, you know, have this better day. No, nothing like that. Promise. This is just a reflection guide. Hopefully some.

Amy Julia (09:11)
Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm.


Katherine (09:31)
providing a space to reflect and process and hopefully, hopefully heal your heart, but there’s no guarantee.

Amy Julia (09:40)
Well, and I think you do a wonderful job of, although there is a structure to the book that somewhat has a progression, right? Starting with hurting and ending with healing, but at the same time, there is a sense of, yeah, circling back around and around and the hope being possible in the midst of the hurt and the healing being possible in the midst of the hope and, you know, all these things being intertwined. There was one place where you wrote,

“When I became disabled at 26, I forfeited the option to feign wellness.” And then a little bit later down, “Every last one of us deserves the grace of the assumption that all is not well.” I just thought that is such an amazing statement, that we do great by assuming that all is not well, rather than just kind of pretending that everything is well all of the time. So yeah, this is.

Katherine (10:20)
Right? There’s no other truth.

Totally. I have a dear, dear friend, Brooke, who would always say, we all want a t -shirt. And those of us in wheelchairs get the pass that says, all is not OK here. Handle with care. I’m fragile. I’ve been through a lot. Like, for many wheelchair users, not always.

Amy Julia (10:47)
Mm -hmm. Yeah.

Katherine (10:54)
There is a different level of care that the world sometimes treats us, but that’s not afforded to you if you’re in the grocery store and your mother just died. No one would know what you’re going through. So, yeah.

Amy Julia (11:08)
Yeah, so it’s interesting though, because It’s like on the one hand assume handle with care about everybody. And on the other hand, I know that there are people who make completely false assumptions about you based upon your physical appearance.

Katherine (11:23)
Absolutely. So interesting. Yes.

Amy Julia (11:26)
So it’s like this interesting kind of take me as I am, but don’t assume you know who I am.

Katherine (11:32)
Well, the whole thing is curiosity without assumption, I believe, that we have got to stop assuming we know. We don’t know. Be curious and not assume all is well or all is terrible. Let’s talk to people. Let’s ask and learn.

Amy Julia (11:35)
Yeah, yeah.


Well, so I wanted to ask you, there was this, well, you know, this podcast is now named Reimagining the Good Life. And…

Katherine (11:59)
You’re imagining the good life. Of course I know that, Amy Julia. I’ve never missed an episode of your podcast.

Amy Julia (12:04)
I know, but it has a new name, remember? It used to be called Love is Stronger than Fear.

Katherine (12:09)
Yes, of course I knew that and I love the new name. I love Reimagining the Good Life for 10,000 reasons. So great. Love it.

Amy Julia (12:16)
Well, thank you. I wanted to ask you about the good life because you have an entry in this book called The Good Life, and I’m going to quote you a little bit. The first thing you wrote was God was not. It seemed like God was not merely withholding a good life from me. He was taking my good life away from me. And then you happen upon the words of a theologian from the fifteen hundreds, which I must say, I’m like, how did you find Sir Richard Baxter? But you can tell us about that. And then you wrote.

Katherine (12:23)


Amy Julia (12:46)
I found there was a good life on the other side of my suffering. So I wondered if you could just tell us how do you move from feeling like the good life is being taken away from you to truly believe in that you’ve been given a good life.

Katherine (12:59)
Yes, and you want me to tell you how I found Sir Richard Baker, right? Absolutely. So Sara Groves, do you know of Sara Groves She’s a, I love her. She’s actually been to camp. I don’t know if you’ve ever been there. She’s been the musician several years at Hope Heals Camp. She’s a dear friend and like a rock star, literally. For those listeners who don’t know, she’s just extremely talented musician.

Amy Julia (13:03)
Yes, that too.

I do, yeah.

Hmm, not with me, no.

Katherine (13:29)
out of Minneapolis. She wrote this beautiful song called Open My Hands. And she performed it at a conference where I was speaking and I, you know, rolled right up to her afterwards. And the song says, I believe in a blessing I don’t understand. I’ve seen rainfall on the wicked and the just. Rain is no measure of his faithfulness. He withholds no good thing from us.

Amy Julia (13:35)

Mm -hmm.

Katherine (13:59)
I raced up to her and I’m like, Sara, like I feel that deep in my gut, but I need you to explain how you got there. Like logically talk me through that. And she said she’d done kind of a deep dive and read a devotional by Charles Spurgeon from years ago where he quotes Sir Richard Baker saying the following. And basically now.

Amy Julia (14:08)


Katherine (14:27)
I tracked it down just to confirm that he did in fact say this and keep in mind in the 1600s people are burying their children. Half of children would die at home. So like for him to say these words, I mean he’s living through some rough times and he says that the good things of God, the truly good things of God can never be taken

Amy Julia (14:40)
Mm -hmm.


Katherine (14:54)
because they’re never withheld in the first place. The truly good things of God are peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit, the fruition of His presence in this life, and the assurance of His face in the next. Of these things, we can know God will never withhold because they are nothing this world could ever touch.

Amy Julia (14:58)


Katherine (15:21)
that Psalm 84:11, this is Katherine Wolf now, that Psalm 84:11 is actually completely true. God will withhold no good thing because the good thing is nothing of this world anyway. The truly good things are intangible. There’s Jesus in our stories when we know him. He’s the goody that’s with us in the mess.

Amy Julia (15:25)

And so in other words, like when you, I mean, so much that we would call good was taken from you, right? Whether that was like the ability to swallow or the, I mean, any number of physical abilities, you know, and as well as just like future dreams and, you know, all these different things. And yet there was also a goodness, A, that was not withheld, but then also it seems like there’s just a goodness that has come out of your story. Well, this is another,

Katherine (16:00)
Yeah, yeah, totally. Totally. Yeah.

Amy Julia (16:19)
You wrote, the moment I lost most of my physical abilities was the moment I met myself truly for the first time. And I just wanted to ask you to speak about like, what do you mean that you didn’t know yourself truly before then? And what did you learn when you met yourself truly?

Katherine (16:26)

because even, I mean, I walked with the Lord since I was a child. So it wasn’t like I was totally on zero that my identity isn’t my ability or my identity isn’t my appearance or whatever. But on some very deep level, even as a good Christian soldier, I had believed like, if I’m good, then I get the good stuff and…

Amy Julia (17:02)
Mm -hmm.

Katherine (17:04)
Even more than just believing that, I think there was some deep idolatry in my picture of the good life is actually the blessed life, the life that God is blessing me with. So that was all kind of slashed after the stroke. And what was left was recognizing truly that…

His true favor cannot be earned. It’s on all of us in him. And like on some very deep level, I was obsessed with the earthly good life that I would never have said that in a million years. But the comfort of this world was what I was living for, like to be accepted and

Amy Julia (17:42)
Mm -hmm.

Katherine (17:57)
You know, the star of the show of my life. And, um, you know, quite a different story when you’re a wheelchair user and you can’t even do your life. And yeah, that’s the beginning of truly knowing who you are, the value of your worth in Christ that surpasses anything you could ever do or earn. That’s so silly.

Amy Julia (17:59)
Mm -hmm.


I feel like you and I have parallel stories in this weird way because I obviously have not had anything near the experience you’ve had with your stroke. And yet I was 28 when our daughter Penny was born and unexpectedly diagnosed with Down syndrome. And I think I would say that I similarly met myself truly for the first time. And for me, that began with what I have called, I’m sure listeners have heard me say this before, ugly grief, where there was this sense of like,

Katherine (18:38)

Amy Julia (18:51)
There’s an ugliness in my soul that I am having to confront for the first time because of how I have valued myself, how I’ve valued other people, what I have thought mattered.

Katherine (19:05)
Yeah, yeah, totally.

Amy Julia (19:07)
And I then was able to go kind of deeper than the ugly parts of myself that I had to come face to face with and start to see that there’s also a beauty there that has been given and that is not dependent upon my success and achievement in the world.

Katherine (19:17)

Right. And how valuable is that for young, capable, able -bodied women to learn? And I don’t know about you, Amy Julia, although I think I do know that you counted as this profound gift to have. Oh my gosh, me too. Like, I feel like we unlocked a real secret code on the video game.

Amy Julia (19:33)
Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm.

Oh, yeah.

Katherine (19:53)
early in life, the video game of life early on, like, oh wait, I spoke yesterday to this precious group of largely 80 year old women, almost all 80 year old women. And I almost threw out all my material on the spot. Cause I’m like, you lived long enough and you got it.

Amy Julia (19:57)


Katherine (20:18)
You know all the things I’m about to say. You know what really matters in life. You varied your friends at this stage. You know, you’re just living a different deal than when I’m talking to 18 year olds. Because like the 85 year old women, you don’t have to tell them life’s going to be hard. They get it. They know. You don’t have to tell them that their dreams are not coming true. They already know that. You don’t have to tell them that.

Amy Julia (20:18)



Katherine (20:46)
They get to choose how they feel about their story. They already know. You know, it’s really interesting. I hope they already know that one. But by and large, they know what I’m talking about.

Amy Julia (20:58)
Right, and it’s kind of like, I don’t know, there’s a gift in learning that sooner and being able to navigate life with it, for sure.

Katherine (21:07)
Well, they say young suffering informs the way you live the rest of your life. You just have a different lens when you’ve suffered at a young age. And actually, I forget where I read this, but that hospice nurses who have been polled on the top five regrets, people who are on their deathbed, and five of the

Amy Julia (21:14)


Katherine (21:37)
benefits that young sufferers say is like part of post-traumatic growth, like intersect almost perfectly. That the things people say death bed regrets and the things people experience when they suffer young afterwards and come out with post-traumatic growth have this strange like compatible like, yeah, overlap. Isn’t that fascinating? And I totally agree.

Amy Julia (21:43)


overlap. Huh.

So in other words, like, can I spell this? Like, so in other words, I’m on my deathbed and I’ve lived a life that didn’t maybe include a ton of suffering and I regret the fact that I didn’t spend more time with my family. I’ve suffered young, I come into a post-traumatic growth period and I say, hey, I get a chance to like experience relationships and that’s what I’m gonna go all in on that. Is that what you’re talking about? Okay.

Katherine (22:27)
Exactly. Exactly. That on the deathbed, our regret would be, I lost touch with my friends from when I was young. And I missed out on that human connection or something in that vein. And exactly a PTG -er would say, I’m not going to let that happen because life is so precious because I almost lost it. Yes, you get it.

Amy Julia (22:39)


Yeah, well that is something that I think comes up in this book over and over and over again is just the precarity of life in general and the ways in which you even 15 years after the stroke know every single day that there’s no guarantee and I was something you’ve wrote in the book and I’ve also heard you say before is expect more of God and less of the world.

Katherine (23:19)

Amy Julia (23:20)
And I wanted to like ask you to talk about that a little bit here because I feel like it could be easy to look at your life and say, okay, you’ve had a stroke, you’ve had multiple pretty horrendous falls that have broken bones and torn ligaments and you’ve discovered a rare neurovascular disorder that is life threatening in an ongoing way. It would be easy to look at your life and be like, wait a second, why would you expect anything of God? Because it seems as though your life has simply been filled with

Katherine (23:45)
Anything good.

Amy Julia (23:49)
you know, unpredictable and unfair events. So what do you mean when you say, expect more of God and less of the world?

Katherine (24:00)
I think fascinating question and so many times in all of our lives, regardless of what we are dealing with, we expect more of this world. We just think it’s going to overwhelm us with how amazing it is and we accept the less of God. We’re like, God may show up if he’s there, if he cares. So the space between those is our place of deep discontentment. We’re miserable. But if we flip that and say,

Amy Julia (24:25)

Katherine (24:29)
I’m going to expect more of God to show up. I believe in his word and his truth and clinging to it. And I know it kind of stinks like less of this world is the reality. Then that space is joy. Like I’m full of joy that I, I see it this way. They say the opposite of hurt is not hope. You hear that all the time, like hurt and hope would be opposites. That’s not true.

Mike Foster of the People of Second Chance, which is an organization I love in Southern California, says that the opposite of hurt is hype, H -Y -P -E. That hope is actually in the middle. It’s like the place you want to land. It’s the balance. It’s not hyping, but it’s not hurting. It’s believing and firmly based in reality. And that’s where I want to live. And our expectations…

Amy Julia (25:09)


Katherine (25:27)
are killing it. We want to make more of how it’s going to be instead of realistically understanding. It’s going to be rough, you know, there are struggles of all kinds in this world. We will have trouble, it says in John 16:33, but we can take heart because he’s overcome the world. And I think that that sums it up.

Amy Julia (25:44)


Well, let’s talk about hope a little bit. One of the other things that you write about is the habit of hope and the idea of kind of practicing hope. Can you like just talk about that? What does it mean to practice hope, to have hope as a habit?

Katherine (26:06)
I’m a huge fan of this. I’m a huge fan. I don’t think you just wake up hopeful one day about your life. It is something you incorporate into your life and you practice and practice and practice. I feel like the practice of hope carried me when the feeling of hope failed me. And that’s a direct quote from the book. that the habit of hope is that that.

Amy Julia (26:28)
Mm -hmm.

Katherine (26:33)
When you hope and you hope and you hope, you keep hoping. It’s a routine. It’s a ritual you get into. And I think practicing hope is a multi-thronged notion that We practice hope by re-narrating our situation. I’m very into re-narration. Like, I get to decide how I feel about the story. I get to communicate the truth of the story as I see it

Amy Julia (26:38)
Mm -hmm.

Katherine (27:01)
to my children, to my husband, to my friends, to my world. I’m huge into Ebeneezers. I love, I put up a lot of pictures and memories and look where we’ve been. Look how far God has brought us. To me, that is an act of hope. That is practicing hope. Habitual hope is remembering where you’ve been and where God has brought you. Should I keep going?

Amy Julia (27:30)
Give us a couple more if you’ve got them. I think this would be great.

Katherine (27:32)
Oh sure, sure. I’m huge into gratitude. I just think it changes. I mean, neurobiology shows it changes the brain. It’s a thing. And I do a ton of that. I definitely think it has changed my brain. I make our kids on the way to school talk about what they’re grateful for and I record it every single day in an app on my phone, Jay and I as well, because I…

Amy Julia (27:44)


Katherine (28:02)
I’m into corporate gratitude. It’s not just for me. We’re gonna speak this out loud. What are we grateful for? Where have we been? Let’s look back and be grateful. What’s in our future? What can we have anticipatory gratitude for? What’s to come? And I think that really changes how we feel. Goodness, another one is community. Whoa. Practicing hope is so much easier when other people are hoping for you.

Cause you may not feel hopeful in any moment of your story, but if you were in community with other people who were hoping, they hold up your shoulders. They hold up your arms and they hope for you when you feel like you don’t have hope. I’ve recently started a group called the suffering club, which I didn’t know that’s what I wanted to call it, but my therapist says that’s exactly what to call it. How beautiful. There’s no such thing.

Amy Julia (28:32)



Katherine (29:00)
Nobody calls a group the Suffering Club. Do it. It’s brilliant. And this group of women, largely birthed out of Hope Heals Camp women in Atlanta, it’s beautiful, gathers and is going through the wringer. I mean, one girl in the group, one woman in the group has now buried her second child. Another woman in the group, husband, has been cheating on her for two years. Another one in the group,

Amy Julia (29:23)

Katherine (29:29)
has a rare condition that the symptoms of similar to ALS will not present till her 60s, but she’s living knowing it’s coming. And her mother has, it’s just horrific. I can go on and on. There are so many fascinating stories of deep suffering, and yet it’s almost like a weight is lifting as we process together.

Amy Julia (29:39)


Katherine (29:57)
as we make room for the Holy Spirit among us to just speak where we are, how we’re doing, what are we grieving in this season when like we’re all grieving a lot of loss and slashed dreams, broken lives, truly. Like, and yet there’s this deep brain healing happening. There’s new neuro pathways being created

Amy Julia (30:11)

Katherine (30:26)
just by being in a room with these women. And it’s glorious. I would highly recommend plugging into community, which by the way, people always want to say, just find your people. Just go find your people. And I just, I want to throw up when people say that because like, no, don’t find your people. Find the people without the people.

Amy Julia (30:52)
Hmm. Hmm.

Katherine (30:52)
and make them your people. That’s finding your real people. Look for the outcasts. That’s your people. Be a Jesus person. Don’t go where everybody is. No! Look for the lonely ones. Befriend those people.

Amy Julia (31:06)

I love that and it is, yes, so true that the sense of, and there’s something that will actually, as you know, be given to you in that. I have another hope question for you. Like, what is, how would you say hope is different from like toxic positivity or relentless optimism? You know, like what’s, because you’ve alluded to the fact that like suffering is still a part of the story, grief is lament, but how do you hold that sense of,

hope not simply being, putting a bow on the hard things in life.

Katherine (31:43)
Totally. I am, I’m near allergic to toxic positivity and all those things. What else did you ask about? Just optimism in general. Relentless optimism. I just think all of that will get you a couple inches towards anything meaningful that you need. Like to me, toxic positivity, ugh.

Amy Julia (31:53)
Relentless optimism, yeah.

Katherine (32:09)
Um, cause I, I am actually very positive and have a lot of optimism, but they’re firmly rooted in the person of Jesus and not in some weird secular thing that’s going to last a couple of weeks or something. But also I think positivity, optimism, all of the real self healthy things with no substance basically are.

Amy Julia (32:13)



Katherine (32:33)
And I don’t mean no substance in it. There are great things in all those things. I just think they fall short when the rubber meets the road. Because in toxic positivity or relentless optimism, there’s not a degree of recognizing reality. I think true hope is recognizing how bad things are. Absolutely. It’s not denial.

Amy Julia (32:40)
Mm -hmm. Right.

Mm -hmm.

Katherine (33:02)
It’s not pretending all is well. It’s the recognition. It’s not well, that’s the whole reason we need hope is it’s not okay. But I have real hope that it will be one day and that sustains today.

Amy Julia (33:15)
Mm -hmm.

Well, and it does seem like there is something in staying with someone, whether that’s yourself or someone else, like in the midst of suffering, not denying that or trying not to feel anything about it while tethering yourself to a promise. There’s something that happens there that really is changes the present moment, even when it doesn’t take away the suffering.

Katherine (33:45)
And it sustains you for that moment, in those moments, absolutely, because you’re tethered to something beyond yourself. Praise God, it’s not all based on what I could do. I know all too well over and over from, as you mentioned, just repeated episodes of broken bones and brain scans and brain surgeries and all that, like…

Amy Julia (33:48)
Mm -hmm.



Katherine (34:12)
It would be real easy to come untethered if it wasn’t something Jesus. But since it’s Jesus, He’s not untethering, even when I may feel completely untethered.

Amy Julia (34:27)
Well, and it sounds like, yeah, one difference between hope and toxic positivity is the source of that, right? Like, you know, just when you have an anchor for the soul that is both eternal and just steadfast, that is different than when it is, as you said, something that might work for a day or a week or, and be based upon our human capacities. Yeah.

Katherine (34:33)

our human feeling. Yes, absolutely. Based on you, back to you and you feel terrible. So then how does that work? If you’re hating your life, how does it work to have toxic positivity? It doesn’t.

Amy Julia (35:04)
Right, right. Yeah, that is another form of denial, I guess. So I want to hear a little bit from you just off the top of your head. Like, how have you learned to care for other people who are in the midst of pain? I know that’s been a lot of your story over the past 15 years, especially in being in kind of public ministry in this, you know, in a ministry called Hope Heals. So talk to me about like what for anyone who’s listening and who is…

Katherine (35:28)
Oh yeah!

Amy Julia (35:33)
wanting to care for someone who’s in the midst of one of those hard seasons. Like, how do you care for hurting people in the midst of their pain?

Katherine (35:35)
Oh, for sure. Yeah.

It is quite shocking. If anyone has any third cousins, neighbors, relatives, friend who knows Katherine Wolf, why don’t we get her to make a personal phone call to someone in the hospital room, deciding whether or not to turn off the machine on their loved one? I’m only halfway kidding. Yes, I find myself in a whole lot of really deep,

Amy Julia (36:01)

Katherine (36:09)
complicated suffering stories in the last nearly 16 years. And most I feel entirely unqualified to speak into. And yet I also feel entirely qualified and up for the job at the very same time. I love it. I’m like, oh, really bad suffering. Great. I would love to get on the phone with them. And it’s like really bizarre. So I have a lot to say about it. But in summary,

Amy Julia (36:28)

Katherine (36:40)
Until one allows circumstances to break their heart, there’s no way to get past it. Like, you’re not ever going to be able to heal if you’re not shook by what happens to you. I think some sort of denial and positive spin is so silly. The reality is, “Whoa, this is shocking.

It’s horrible. I cannot believe this happened to you,” should be on the tip of the tongue. not some lovely platitude based in your deep theologicals. You know, no, that’s not now. Now is I cannot believe you are dealing with this. This is unimaginable. I can’t believe I’m going to watch you bear this. And I think there is a deep

Amy Julia (37:32)
Mm -hmm.

Katherine (37:36)
ministry of tears. We all want to talk about the ministry of truth. That’s the thing. And that will come. Absolutely. We should be sharing the deep truth of Jesus to get out of bed in the morning. Absolutely. But not yet. In the moment of deep pain, cry. Let someone witness you with them. Let them

Amy Julia (37:38)

Katherine (38:04)
witness your with-ness, like Be in the room, show up. Have tears if you have tears. Be a shoulder to cry on. I like to say less words are the best words for moments of suffering. People don’t need platitudes. The reality is, when they have a bullet wound happen,

Amy Julia (38:18)

Katherine (38:28)
They don’t need a Jesus bandaid. They’re going to need a lot more of Jesus than a bandaid and the time isn’t right yet for that. Save that one. The big old bandage they need comes first and foremost through tears honestly.

Amy Julia (38:31)
Mm -hmm.



Thank you for that. And I love that sense of, and it is, it’s a challenge, right? I mean, I think, as you said, you practice it and it becomes less of a challenge in many ways, but to just be with people in the midst of unbearable pain and say, I can’t believe this is happening to you. And let me weep with you and be with you. Like I can stay with you in the midst of this pain is, it’s an incredible gift.

Katherine (39:10)

The very most meaningful sentiment to me in my entire ordeal is five years after the stroke, when I had to have an aneurysm, an unrelated brain aneurysm removed, a friend said to me, I cannot believe this is happening to you. And like,

Amy Julia (39:17)
And one.


Katherine (39:42)
For some reason I felt so seen and known and like, yes, me either. I just can’t believe it. I cannot wrap my mind around this. How can this keep happening? And I just felt so like, thank you. Thank you for just not believing this too, because it’s shocking and my world is ravaged and thank you. And I think we can do that for each other.

Amy Julia (39:45)

Hmm. Yeah. I have one last question for you as we come to the end of our time. There was, I thought this was a really interesting point and it makes a lot of sense to me, but I’d love to hear you talk about it a little bit. You wrote, healing rarely returns us to the condition in which we started. And I think we usually think that healing will, like that’s kind of our impression of healing is like, oh yeah, just go back to how I was. And so I just thought maybe you could talk

a little bit about what healing has looked like for you over these past 15 years.

Katherine (40:39)
Oh, for sure. Fascinating, isn’t it? For many reasons. Clearly, you know, for instance, question, did I get the miracle? Did I get the healing? Did I, you know, did I? Fascinating. Not a thing that was broken after the stroke has been fully restored to back to the way it was before.

Amy Julia (40:44)

Mm -hmm.

Katherine (41:08)
Not a thing. And yet, am I healed? Interesting thought. I mean, I could make a pretty compelling argument for yes, that the healing has come. That what was most deeply wounded was the soul, the heart. My feelings were so hurt after this happened. How could God let this happen to me?

Amy Julia (41:22)
Mm -hmm.

Mm -hmm.

Katherine (41:37)
Look at my life, everything is broken and ravaged. And I don’t feel that at all anymore. It is almost hard to deeply empathize with people in their moments of terrible pain. Because I’m like, well, I mean, you’re kind of receiving the other side. And I’m sure you know, you kind of recognize it’s pretty awesome drinking this Kool -Aid. And it’s crazy. You know, we see in John 9.

Which if you haven’t read John 9, go home and read it listeners. So powerful that in John 9, the man born blind is cured of his blindness, his physical blindness. There’s a curing for sure. But the real healing happens when he puts his faith in Jesus, when he believes in Jesus. If that was merely about the curing of something wrong with his body, the

Amy Julia (42:18)
Mm -hmm.

Mm -hmm.

Katherine (42:35)
The entire chapter would only be the first seven verses. There’s another 35 after that. That the whole spiritual blindness of the Pharisees comes in. Then I believe the spiritual blindness of the now formerly blind guy whose life is still terrible until he meets the one that makes life not terrible anymore. The deepest need of that dude and this girl and

Amy Julia (42:52)


Katherine (43:03)
everybody in the world is the healing that Jesus provides, not anything else. That’s all counterfeit. Did that remotely answer your question?

Amy Julia (43:07)
Let’s go.


Yeah, it does. I think just that sense of the healing that God offers to us is very often not what we would think healing is going to look like.

Katherine (43:26)
Absolutely. Everybody I knew assumed, oh give it a couple years, she’ll be wearing high heels again, she’ll be running around, running on the beach, like she’ll be taking that stroller into the mall after she pulls up, like of course, give it a couple years, you know, she’s got to do a little more physical therapy and then the years started going by.

Amy Julia (43:37)
Mm -hmm.

Katherine (43:53)
And here I am at 16 years and not much has changed. In fact, I’ve had to upgrade from just a cane to a walker now. So pretty rapidly things are not headed uphill here. And yet my heart’s headed that way.

Amy Julia (44:13)
Right, I mean that and actually those two things are probably somehow related to each other. That if you had been given back like kind of full bodily movement, whatever, this would all be something that certainly you learned from and were grateful for it, but it would not be not only this degree of transformation for you, but also for, you know, the hundreds of thousands of people who’ve heard your story.

Katherine (44:19)
I agree, I agree with that.

Oh, well, yeah, I don’t know if hundreds of thousands, but exactly Amy Julia, you’re exactly right. Oh yeah, you’re a sweet fan. Yeah, right. You’re exactly right. Yeah. I think that those must go hand in hand beautifully that the lack of physical curing of this earth suit and the deep healing of the soul must kind of be, um, yeah, parallel tracks of.

Amy Julia (44:43)
I think hundreds of thousands, I do. Yeah.


Katherine (45:08)
Something, I don’t know, something beautiful.

Amy Julia (45:11)
Well, I know we have to go. I’m going to say one more thing that I wasn’t planning to say, but I was just thinking about that. I heard somebody say the other day, you know, our bodies are not all that we are, but our bodies are how we are made visible in the world. That like we would be invisible without our bodies. And it doesn’t mean we wouldn’t exist without our bodies, but like we would be invisible. And I think it’s so interesting to think of the visible body. And as you have talked, written, talked.

everything about invisible wheelchairs and that sense of even what we started talking about that like so many people show up and they need a t -shirt to be like I’m actually not okay and that your visible body actually proclaims something true not just about you but about all of us and some there’s something like almost sacramental about that.

Katherine (45:48)

There’s, I totally agree. I think that’s a fascinating point. You know, I had to make peace with like, this body is the only one I’m ever going to have. And this body, all of our bodies are the only way we interface with existence for all of existence. This is it. So yes, a paralyzed face and

a balance that doesn’t work and a hand that doesn’t work and a gait that doesn’t work and brokenness, I guess. But this is how I interface with what is here in the goodness of God in the land of the living. And this is what I got.

Amy Julia (46:48)
Well, and I will add though to that list of what you bring in your body. You also bring joy and peace and beauty and hope and love. I mean, I’m serious. And so that I think is what’s even more, that’s where the truth of it all is, is in this evident, as you said, brokenness and evident wholeness all at the same time.

Katherine (47:14)
Right. I’m very aware when I’m speaking that the medium is the message. Me on the stage in a wheelchair proclaiming with one vocal cord and a paralyzed face the truths of God in a story speaks way beyond what this broken, messed up sound could proclaim. That…

Amy Julia (47:22)

Katherine (47:42)
I mean, whoa, the word picture, the medium is the message, truly.

Amy Julia (47:49)
Well, thank you, Katherine, just for sharing a little bit of that message with us today. And I will just say it again, this book, I mean, even the title, Treasures in the Dark, right? I know it comes from Isaiah, but what a, yeah, why don’t we end there? End with it, yeah.

Katherine (48:01)
You want me to say it? It’s Isaiah. Oh, absolutely. And I have loved this passage for many years. So it’s so special. It’s the title. Isaiah 45:3 says, God says, I will give you hidden treasure in the darkness, riches stored in secret places so that you may know that I am God,

the God of Israel, the God who summons you by name.

Amy Julia (48:34)
Amen, and thank you.

Katherine (48:35)

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