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Blessed Are The Misfits: Brant Hansen

with Brant Hansen | December 20, 2023
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If you've ever felt like you don't fit into American church culture... Brant Hansen has been there, too. Join Hansen as he explores modern Christianity, the beauty of being different, and the astonishing goodness of God. Rediscover Jesus' true love with us.

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  • About the Guest

Ever felt like you don’t fit into American church culture? Join Hansen as he explores modern Christianity, the beauty of being different, and the astonishing goodness of God.

Blessed Are The Misfits: Brant Hansen

With Brant Hansen
|
December 20, 2023
| Download Transcript PDF

Ann: I don't know about you, but I am glad I'm not parenting kids today. [Laughter] I mean, we have kids, but they're not younger.

Dave: I've said that many times. It's scary! We thought it was scary 40 years ago. I think it's 10 times harder today. We have a generation walking away from their faith. We raised them in the church; we raised them to believe, and then they hit teenage years and beyond, and they walk away in numbers. You talk about scary. Parents are petrified right now: “How do we help our kids?”

Ann: Are you feeling this as I am today? The urgency to get biblical principles and help to our families? Because this is what we're about. We have faithful givers who gave 40 years ago, because [they] thought, “This was so important.” Well, it's even more important now.

Dave: Well, let me tell you, we cannot lose this battle.

Ann: Yes.

Dave: Every day, we get to speak life and the Word of God. Actually, we get to bring Jesus to your family and bring hope to give you practical tools, to help your kids and our kids [to] be strong adults for Jesus, and that doesn't happen without you joining us in prayer and joining us as a financial partner. I know everybody's asking you for money at this time of year. We are saying, “Help us not lose this battle. Let's win! And help us keep bringing life and the Word of God to your family so that you can win, and your family can win.”

Join us today. Your dollar will be doubled, and this is a battle we will not lose; and you can help us win it. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com right now and make a gift.

Ann: Join us in this battle. It matters.

Brant: The truth is the truth whether I feel it or not. The truth is the truth whether you feel it or not. Your feelings do not determine reality, and you can see where our whole culture actually buys into this idea that our feelings actually determine reality.

 

Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com.

Ann: This is FamilyLife Today.

 

Dave: Alright, let me read you the opening paragraph of a book that I think you'll relate to; t starts this way: “You know that feeling when God is right there, this close, and you can just feel His loving arms around you, and you can literally hear His voice whispering in your ear, telling you how much He loves you. I don't. I never have.”

Ann: What did you think when you read those words?

Dave: I thought, “This guy feels what I feel.” [Laughter] I'm not kidding, and I know you, and I don't think you feel that often.

Ann: No, I read that, and I thought, “No, I can't imagine what that would be like, because I do feel Him all the time.” But when I read it, I thought, “Dave is totally relating to this.”

Dave: Yes; and I've often felt like I'm less spiritual or there's something wrong with me because my wife doesn't feel this way; my son doesn't feel this way, but I do. So often, I felt like, “I just keep that quiet. I don't say it out loud.”

I always thought, “I wish we could have the author of that paragraph in the studio.” [Laughter] We’ve got Brant Hansen—

Ann: —because he wrote those words —

Dave: —yes, from a book called Blessed Are the Misfits.

Brant, welcome back!

Brant: Thank you. It's cool to hear people talk about that.

Dave and Ann: Really?

Brant: Yes, because there's not much space in church culture, I think, to talk about that. I asked this question one time when I was talking at a big church; they had the worship music and all this stuff. It was well done; a big theater environment. I asked, “Does anybody feel like you're missing something when everybody else has their arms up raised? There's a big emotional moment, and maybe you're not feeling it?”

I think about half of the people raised their hands.

Dave and Ann: Really?

Brant: That's a lot of us.

Dave: Yes.

Brant: And you are kind of made to feel like—maybe unintentionally: “Maybe I'm just not spiritual.”

Dave: Exactly, yes.

Brant: I just wanted to be honest about that, because there's nothing wrong with that. But if we think spirituality is emotion, we're in trouble because we're not all cut out of the same cloth, and it's not strictly a man versus woman thing.

Dave and Ann: Right.

Brant: One of the couples that came up to me immediately afterward was a woman with her husband, and she said, “I'm so glad to hear you say that.” She said, “I'm an engineer, and I'm very analytical, and my husband is very emotive. I've always thought I'm missing something, because his spiritual life looks so different. And he expects that from me, but that's just not who I am.”

Ann: I think I judged Dave for years when we were first married, thinking, “What's his problem? Is he not connected to Jesus?” Not realizing, we're all made in such a different way. I don't judge anymore, but I think we can judge one another.

Dave: But the other side is, “I can't feel what they're feeling. Why do they feel something that I can't feel?” So, I feel “less than,” like, “That's what I should be feeling and doing.” I'm not saying I don't sometimes raise my hands and—

Brant: —sure—

Dave: —be emotional—

Brant: —yes.

Dave: —because I do; but there are times where I feel “less than” because I'm not experiencing the same thing it looks like they're experiencing.

Brant: Okay, that's why I wanted to write the book. I think it's very freeing when we realize—

Ann: —yes.

Brant: —“Wait a second! That's not actually spirituality. Spirituality is not emotion. It's faithfulness. It's faithfulness. I can do that.”

Dave: Yes.

Brant: But what happens is, you wind up judging yourself sometimes—

Ann: —yes—

Brant: —if you're cut out of this cloth.

Dave: Yes.

Brant: There are so many people who are listening right now who can relate to this, where maybe they know people who've lost their faith: “It just feels like a show to me. It feels like an emotion-based thing.” They're thinking analytically: “Why do we do it this way?” Or like with me as a teenager or a young adult [thinking], “Maybe God's giving up on me. Maybe I'm not having that experience everybody else is having. I'm not hearing His audible voice speaking to me or wrapping His arms around me because I'm such a sinner. There's something wrong with me.”

Ann: Yes.

Brant: And it makes you eventually walk away frustrated.

Ann: [Thinking], “I don't get it.”

Brant: “I don't get it.” But what He's really looking for is loyalty.

Ann: Yes, obedience.

Brant: Obedience.

Dave: Faithfulness.

Brant: Right! So, I can do that.

Dave: I mean, in some ways when you say that Brant, I'm—again, I'm going to exaggerate, but it feels like it's more faithful. It's like, if I'm loving Ann—

Ann: —yes—

Dave: —in a marriage relationship and—

Brant: —There you go!—

Dave: —I don't feel it anymore,

Brant: —Bingo!—

Dave: —which many married couples are [thinking], “That's where I am right now. I don't feel it.”

Ann: A lot of us go through that.

Dave and Brant: Yes!

Dave: I mean it's part of—

Dave and Ann: —marriage.

Brant: It's part of relationships. [Laughter]

Ann: Yes!

Brant: It's part of emotions. As human beings, our emotions change, sometimes, based on factors that have nothing to do with us.

Dave: Yes.

Ann: But when people say, “I fell out of love,” sometimes I think, “Well, of course you did!

Brant: Right.

Ann: “That's not what love is.”

Brant: Right. So, if you try to manufacture these experiences that give you goosebumps, and you equate that with spirituality, well, “The people who don't get goosebumps; I guess they're not spiritual.” Or, if I can't do it; maybe your relationship with God has changed and matured in a new way where you needed that earlier on in your relationship with God; you really did, and it was a gift. But now, there's a new maturity, just like in the marriage relationship.

I think that God's love language, in fact, is when we do it just because He's good. He deserves my loyalty, and I need to obey Him. My emotions may come and go—and this goes for people like you, Ann. You may be more emotional in your relationship with God, but there's probably some times [that] you go through a trough.

Ann: Oh yes.

Brant: —it doesn't mean that you—

Ann: —it’s dry—

Brant: —yes! It doesn't mean you did something wrong.

Ann: Right; but I do get introspective and think, “Lord, did I do something? Did I sin? Where are You? And are You still close?” David felt like that in the Psalms: “Where are You God?”

Brant: Yes. Well, he also had to speak truth to himself—

Ann: —yes—

Brant: —when he was feeling down: “Why are you so downcast, oh, my soul? Put your trust in God.” And he finishes psalms where he's down, and downcast, with reminding himself repeatedly of what's true.

So, for somebody like me, who doesn't feel this, I still know what's true. I still have to put my mind on what's true, and what's noble, and what's right, and what's pure and lovely and admirable and praiseworthy and excellent. I have to remind myself that God hasn't left me. All of Scripture repeatedly [says]: “I'm with you. I'm with you. I'm with you.”

Ann: Yes.

Brant: Why would He have to say that if we were going to feel Him around all the time?

Ann: [Laughter] That’s a good point.

Brant:  Why is it—why is it—100 times in the Scripture? He must have anticipated that we're going to feel like He's not there sometimes. The Truth is the Truth whether I feel it or not. The Truth is the Truth, whether you feel it or not. Your feelings do not determine reality. You can see where our whole culture actually buys into this idea that our feelings actually determine reality.

Dave: Oh, yes.

Brant: But that seeps into Evangelical culture, too, in church culture. It's like, “This is not true.”

Ann: It feels like. in different eras, emotions and analytical thinking are swaying, and they're all going back and forth. I feel like we're in a more emotive kind of—

Brant: —totally! —

Ann: —you do think that?

Brant:  Absolutely.

Dave: The question is: “Why?”

Ann: Yes.

Dave: Why do you think that culture is like that now?

Brant: I think the conceit of the human being is that we're hyperrational. We all think we're super-rational. The truth is, most of the time, we use our rationality to back up what our emotions are telling us. So, we're—still, the emotion is leading us places. But I think if you reject the idea of transcendent truth, we're all just left with our feelings.

Dave: Yes.

Brant: So, that wins the day. I also think that we're so used to shopping. We're so consumeristic.

Ann: Yes.

Brant: And I'm very thankful for the products that are at our fingertips, but we're used to choosing everything. So, why can't I just choose my reality? My desires are always catered to, so my desire has to be transcendent. I think that's a big part of it, just the loss of hope in God.

Dave: Do you think a lot of that's crept into the Church?

Brant: Yes, absolutely.

Dave: And our faith?

Brant: Yes. I mean that's overtly what the Church has tried to do too, right? It is like—recreate this rock concert experience, in some cases, or recreate a motivational speaker. I understand it.

Dave: Yes.

Brant: I get the thinking, but that's not going to speak to everybody. In fact, I don't think it speaks to the majority of people who are looking for something more.

Ann: Yes.

Brant: I'm very thankful to realize this because it means I can participate, too. I can walk with God. I can talk to Him even if I don't feel it. It's okay. And sure enough, He answers my prayers in different ways, and I see that faithfulness from His side. It's very freeing to realize this.

Ann: Let me ask you, because Dave has said this same thing from the pulpit; he would say he's very skeptical by nature.

Brant: Yes.

Ann:  As soon as he says that, I can see certain people just have a sigh of relief [thinking], “Wait!  Is that okay? You're a pastor, and you can still be skeptical?” You've said the same thing. Where does that come from?

Brant: I think some of us are born dissenters. We're born analysts, right? We question everything. My dad was a pastor, and I got Bible, Bible, Bible; preaching. He's a good speaker, charismatic presence, talented. Also, our home life was traumatic, like terrifying. Then, I would go to church and hear more preaching, and more preaching, and more preaching. This is the same guy that's terrorizing us, and I feel like, “We're not safe.” I just grew up scared.

So, allow me the skepticism. As it turns out, the skepticism, for me, has chased me back to Jesus, because He's actually the One Who calls out this human nature that would explain my dad, or explain me, at times; explain—

And He actually does something about it. Who else anywhere acknowledges human brokenness and actually does something about it? Most everybody else wants to deny human brokenness, in spite of all that we can see that's so obvious. We know. Everybody knows.

Dave and Ann: [Laughter] Yes.

Brant: We’re messed up.

Ann: Yes.

Brant: But then, to actually call it out and do something about it. Where else do I go for that?

Dave: Is that what kept you in the faith? Because you hear that story and, I mean, 8 out of 10 people would walk away.

Brant: Yes. Honestly, I'm so skeptical. I'm not exaggerating. I mentioned this in the book, too, but I used to do talk radio. I interviewed a guy who was the founder of Skeptic magazine—

Dave: —Oh, yes. You said that in the book. [Laughter]—

Brant: —Yes, yes. The American Humanist Association president at the time. We would debate stuff. And he—to his credit—he was a kind guy. He was just like, “I have got to admit, you're actually more skeptical than I am.” [Laughter] This guy's the founder of Skeptic magazine!

Dave: He's like the president of Skepticism. [Laughter]

Ann: Give us an example of a conversation you might have.

Brant: Well, about the ideal: “We can only have science to know reality.” Well, how is that a falsifiable statement? Because science itself, you have a scientific method. You have to have a falsifiable hypothesis. I said, “What you're saying is philosophical. It's not scientific at all. [Laughter] What's your basis for that philosophy?” And [he would say], “Well, you make a valid point.” [Laughter]

I'm legitimately asking these questions, but honestly, I don't think—there are so many people who don't believe in God now—the record, according to Gallup recently—that say they don't believe in God. I actually think they do believe in God.

Ann: Really?

Brant: Yes, because what they do gives them away.

Ann: Which is—what are they doing?

Brant: They'll appeal to standards of fairness. They believe that love is more than just chemistry bouncing around your brain; electrical impulses. They act like things actually matter.

Paul even talks about that in Romans. He says, “Men suppress their knowledge of God.”

Dave: Yes.

Brant: It's human. We do a thing called “denial.” We know it at some level, and we want to suppress it. But when I see people doing that, it reinforces my faith; because you see that a lot of this, we think these people are so smart because they doubt. But doubt doesn't make you smart. That's a modern lie. For somebody who's analytical, I'm chased back around to Jesus. Jesus Himself is so compelling, and He is medicinal for somebody like me.

Dave: Now, when you think about your faith—because I was trying to relate it again to marriage in your marriage with Caroline—do you feel loved by God like you do in your marriage?

Brant: This is not discouraging, I hope, but no, I don't feel that.

Dave: Is it any different than your marriage?

Brant: Yes. Caroline's right there. I feel compassion for her sometimes. I'm rooting for her, and she's right there in my care, and she loves me. It’s so obvious; it's so tangible. It's hard for me to know how to translate that to God. I'm not trying to be discouraging at all. It's just [that] that is a struggle for me. Maybe I'm broken for whatever reason. Maybe it's from my past or whatever; my own dad stuff. But I know—I know—He loves me. I know it!

Dave: That's what I was getting at—

Brant: —yes—

Dave: —because I know Ann loves me.

Brant: Yes.

Dave: She shows me all the time. If there was a book written about her love for me, it would—just like the Bible: I know it, and I know God loves me as well. There are—most of the time, I don't feel it. I mean, not most of the time but, you know—

Brant: —yes, I know exactly—

Dave: —it isn't an emotional—

Brant: —I know exactly what you are talking about; right.

Dave: —affectionate feeling that I have. There are moments, but most of the time it's based on truth. I feel the same thing from Ann. There are moments where I feel her love for me, but it doesn't matter. I know she's committed to me and loves me, and that's enough.

Brant: Yes.

Ann: Well, let me ask you this: do you ever feel like God doesn't love you?

Brant: No, no.

Ann: Do you, [Dave]?

Dave: No. Honestly, I mean, early in my Christian walk, I didn't know the Word. I didn't know Truth; so, I questioned it, but over, now, 40 years of walking with Him, I’m like, “No, He loves me.” Even in my worst moments where He shouldn't—

Ann: —yes.

Dave: —I am absolutely convinced—

Brant: —yes, right.

Dave: —the truth of the Word of God says—

Brant: —yes.

Dave: —He loves me. And I know it, and I'm secure in that.

Brant: There is a sense of security. Each morning, I try to do Psalm 23 while I’m walking the dog—out loud: “The Lord is my Shepherd. I lack nothing;” it starts. That's a strong place to start.

Dave: Yes.

Brant: I've seen Him answer prayers, and I've seen Him [answer] in ways that [are] utterly inexplicable. If I was just going at it from scientific, coincidental odds; that's crazy. I harken back to those things. I made a list in my head the other day of three of those things that happened, and there's no explaining that.

Ann: Yes.

Brant: But I know.

Ann: Yes.

Brant: But the feeling thing: if someone's listening, and they're alarmed; well, I'm letting you into my head (it's a vulnerable thing) and into my heart. But I'm very thankful for the grace of God that lets us all into His Kingdom with our own hobbled whatever. Should it happen—if you're alarmed, but then, maybe in a year or two—you go through a long, dark night of the soul, where you keep pursuing God, but you don't have those old feelings like you used to, I hope you remember: “He’s still there. [He] still loves you. He hasn't changed. It's okay.” That's a really secure place to be—

Ann: —it is.

Brant: —even if you don't have the “in love” feelings.

Ann: Yes. I think when I was younger, too, I would feel like God loved me or didn't love me based on my actions or lack of obedience. I think that's why the Word is so important. I love that you're quoting, and you're memorizing, and saying out loud Psalm 23.

Brant: Yes.

Ann: Because sometimes, we have to remind ourselves over and over, and that's what God's Word does.

Brant: Yes!

Ann: That's what other people do. That's why we can't do it alone!

Brant: Right!

Ann: because there's an enemy of the soul who will tell us the opposite: “You're a failure. God doesn't love you. You don't know God. If you aren't experiencing Him or feeling Him, you must not be a follower.”

So, I agree. I think that's really important. I also thought it was so fascinating for you, Brant, as you were reading the Word, and you would say, “We are aliens.” You're [thinking], “Yes!”

Brant: Yes!

Ann: “This is what I'm feeling.”

Brant: Yes.

Ann: Was that back when you were a new follower, and you were reading the Bible?

Brant: Honestly, it's always appealed to me.

Ann: It's appealed to you! [Laughter]

Brant: It appeals to me that we're aliens and strangers, [because] I already feel that way. So, that's a nice place for me to be, culturally. I always felt like—and some people are like this too: you're kind of—more of an observer than a participant, even social stuff in high school.

Ann: You've always felt like a misfit.

Brant: Yes, I always felt like a misfit. So, we get a leg up on everybody else in this “aliens and strangers” thing. [Laughter] We know what that's like! [Laughter] I'm not afraid of that. [Laughter] I'll be the oddball. It's okay.

And you know what's wonderful? It’s talking about this in book form, when people come out of the woodwork and [say], “That's me too.” “That's my son.” “That's my husband.” “That's my daughter.”

You do feel more like you're part of the family. That's very helpful. To have other people say, “You're right.” It's good, even at this point in my life. We need to hear things over and over and over and over and over. You keep having to go back to that. And that's why I'm saying, like in the Bible, He would say: “Fear not. I am with you. I will help you. I will strengthen you. I will uphold you with my righteous right Hand. I will not—I am with you. Be strong and courageous. I'm going with you wherever you go.”

Over and over and over. If we all felt 100% that He's right there, why would He have to say that over and over? He's doing this because He loves us!

Ann: So good!

Brant: That alone tells me He loves us. He must know me, for Him to say that over and over?

Ann: Yes

Brant: He must be patient with people like me. So, if somebody else is [thinking], “Bro, we have got to throw you overboard. What are you talking about? You’re not—" 

[I think]. “Well, okay, but He's going to go with me if you throw me overboard.” And there are so many people [for whom] this is the most freeing thing for them to hear. They'll be weeping, realizing, “God didn't leave me.”

Dave: Yes. And I think what you just said—in the kitchen with a listener, they are hearing the voice of God through Brant—what you just said.

Brant: Good.

Dave: They needed to hear that.

Brant: Good!

Dave: Because, like you and me, they don't often feel it. And they're [thinking}, “That's truth.” If you're skeptical, like me: “Does God speak?” He just did.

Brant: Good.

Dave: He just did.

Brant: Yes!

Dave: To you.

Brant: And how wonderful is that?

Dave: Yes.

Brant: Somebody reminded me of a Scripture, so I memorized it a few days ago, from Lamentations, where it's like all this horrible stuff's going to happen, “Yet I call this to mind.” Then he reminds himself of the goodness of God. You have to remind yourself of what's true. So, that's what I do. That's all.

Ann: Yes.

Brant: We have a very distracted culture. We have to remind each other because we forget stuff; some of the most basic stuff. I'll even look in my own old books or somebody could do this with your own journals. I'm [thinking], “Hey, that's a good thought! I wrote that. I forgot totally!” [Laughter]

Ann: And I have Scripture all over the house.

Brant: Yes.

Ann: It's written down, and my grandkids are [asking], “Nonny, what's this?” (Ann) “Oh. I just need to remember—

Brant: —yes.

Ann: —‘This is what Jesus says.’”

Brant: That's what it means to be human. In fact, in Deuteronomy, God is saying, “Look, tie this around your wrist if you have to!”

Ann: Yes.

Brant: “Put it on the doorposts.” He knows. They're living in a religion-soaked culture—

Dave: —yes.

Brant: —and yet, He’s [saying],” You’re still going to forget.” So, I can't imagine in this culture, where everything is so distractible, and we've got everything pulling at us non-stop. Of course, we need Scripture all over the place!

Ann: Yes!

Brant: I need to commit it to memory and then, say it over while I'm walking the dog, so I'm reminded of what's true.

Shelby: We are forgetful people, aren't we? I feel like, every morning I wake up, I need to remind myself of the truth of Who God is, what He's done to rescue me through Jesus, and who I am to be in light of His goodness and grace; because it feels like the guy who remembered all that yesterday died in my sleep. So, he needs to be resurrected with the truth. I love this reminder. It's such great, honest truth today from Brant Hansen.

I'm Shelby Abbott, and you've been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson on FamilyLife Today.

You know, Brant has written a book called Blessed Are the Misfits. The subtitle is Great News for Believers Who Are Introverts, Spiritual Strugglers, or Just Feel Like They're Missing Something. This book is going to be available by going online to FamilyLifeToday.com and clicking on “Today's Resources.”

You and I get to benefit from conversations like these with people like Brant Hansen because of the generosity of our monthly partners who give and make this ministry possible. I'd love it if you'd partner with us right now, too, because every gift given between now and the end of the year is going to be matched, dollar-for-dollar, up to $3,000,000. So, that's every gift that's given. When you give, it's going to be doubled!

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Now, tomorrow, there are many in our Christian communities who struggle with emotions in relation to their faith. They don't know how to express them correctly. Well, Brant Hanson is one of those guys, and he's back again tomorrow with Dave and Ann Wilson to talk about that and so much more. We hope you'll join us!

On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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Episodes in this Series

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Doubting Jesus as an Introvert: Brant Hansen
with Brant Hansen December 22, 2023
Lost in the crowd? Brant Hanson discusses Taylor Swift, church alienation, doubts, and embracing misfit Christians. Join us for open conversations on church diversity and introverts.
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I Belong in the Kingdom of God – I’m Socially Awkward: Brant Hansen
with Brant Hansen December 21, 2023
In a dark place? Brant Hanson shares insights from his spiritual journey. For those struggling to be social, confident, or happy, this podcast is for you.
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