FamilyLife Today®

I Belong in the Kingdom of God – I’m Socially Awkward: Brant Hansen

with Brant Hansen | December 21, 2023
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In a dark place? Brant Hanson discusses: 1) the valuable lessons from his spiritual journey, 2) the importance of knowing the truth and finding security in God's love among doubts, and 3) how skepticism led him back to Jesus. For those struggling to be social, confident, or happy, this podcast is for you.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Guest

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.

I Belong in the Kingdom of God – I’m Socially Awkward: Brant Hansen
2023-12-21

I Belong in the Kingdom of God – I’m Socially Awkward: Brant Hansen

In a dark place? Brant Hanson discusses: 1) the valuable lessons from his spiritual journey, 2) the importance of knowing the truth and finding security in God’s love among doubts, and 3) how skepticism led him back to Jesus. For those struggling to be social, confident, or happy, this podcast is for you.

Show Notes and Resources

Connect with Brant Hansen and catch more of their thoughts at branthansen.com
Find him on social media on Insta, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
And grab Brant Hansen’s book, Blessed Are the Misfits: Great News for Believers Who Are Introverts, Spiritual Strugglers, Or Just Feel Like They’re Missing Something
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Find resources from this podcast at shop.familylife.com.
See resources from our past podcasts.
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I Belong in the Kingdom of God – I’m Socially Awkward: Brant Hansen

With Brant Hansen
|
December 21, 2023
| Download Transcript PDF

David: Hey, there! David Robbins here, President of FamilyLife®. You know, it is hard to cultivate a healthy family. Even between two healthy people, the odds are stacked against us. For more than 40 years, FamilyLife has provided a safe harbor for moms and dads, husbands and wives, and families all over the world. Our daily program has become a trusted place that provides compassionate counsel to parents who want to build God-fearing homes.

And now, I’m inviting you to step forward and contribute to a unique matching challenge that is active right now. Every dollar you give today will be deployed to bring hope to someone who feels hopeless. And every dollar you give today will be doubled in size because of the matching challenge. One of the things that you may not know is that FamilyLife has seen a fresh movement of God in momentum in building toward a fruitful season ahead. In fact, we’ve seen an 84 percent increase in our engagement with families through radio and podcasting. Your contribution to the matching challenge will accelerate our impact in the new year to even more homes.

So, please, take advantage of this opportunity to leverage your year-end gift to FamilyLife. Help families defy the odds, help moms and dads cultivate godly homes. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com to give your gift to the matching challenge. We look forward to hearing from you today.

Dave: So, the conversation we had yesterday had me thinking about my life. When I first got involved in church and a faith community in college—joined that community of people, who were Christians on a college campus—was one of the first times I felt like I didn’t fit. I don’t feel what they’re feeling; they’re singing songs. It was one of the first times in my life I’m like, “I don’t fit here.”

Ann: And then, think about this: think about your life in Jesus, how you went forward. Share that part.

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.

Dave: This is FamilyLife Today.

Dave: Brant Hansen is back with us: radio host and author of the book we are going to talk about today: Blessed Are the Misfits.

Brant: Yes.

Dave: Ann was mentioning when I came to Christ; it was at a concert that my brother told me to go to. It’s a long story, but I go forward—it’s one of those, “Hey, if you want to receive Christ today, come forward.” I’m like, “I’m doing this.” I’m the only one, and there’s hundreds—maybe a thousand people—there. I walked forward; I literally got on my knees before the stage.

Ann: —and you didn’t feel anything.

Dave: No; here’s what happened: these three ladies get down beside me and get on their knees. They’re older ladies. I was 19 or 20 years old. And they’re weeping; they’re weeping, and they’re emotional. There’s two on one side and one on the other. I looked at them like, “Huh.”

This guy came up to me—had a counselor come up to [me] and say, “Hey, do you have any questions? I’m here to help you understand what just happened.” I said to him—I’ll never forget, Brant—I looked at him, and I go, “Yes, it didn’t take.” He goes, “What?!” I go, “It didn’t work.” He goes, “What do you mean ‘It didn’t work’?!” I go, “Well, these ladies beside me are weeping and crying. Something was happening with them! I don’t feel anything. I just decided I want to give my life to Jesus, and I feel nothing.”

This guy looks at me, and he goes, “You know, it has nothing to do with what you feel. It’s based on truth. Let’s walk through it.” He walked me through the gospel. I walked out of there like, “Okay, I’m a follower of Christ.” Day one, I felt like, “That’s real, and I don’t fit that.”

Brant: But here you are. So, if somebody had told you, “Man, there’s something wrong with you. You need to open yourself up to God for real.”

Dave: Right, right.

Brant: That would have been so discouraging.

Dave: I probably would have walked away.

Brant: Right, as a lot of people do.

Dave: Yes.

Ann: Do you think you feel like God can’t use you if you’re not like other people?

Brant: You just feel like you must be a sinner, unlike they are.

Ann: Yes.

Brant: Honestly, like everybody is caught up in stuff—especially, a younger man—and you’re always battling; always battling. But if you’re not feeling [something]: “I guess I’m worse than everybody,” or “Maybe God doesn’t exist. Maybe this whole thing is fake.”

Because when you’re an analytical person, you go to church—and some people just don’t ask any questions, that’s fine—but I’m there—I’m a musician, too. Dave, you know this.

Dave: Yes, yes.

Brant: I can make people throw their hands up in the air, singing, Don’t Stop Believing, right? [Laughter]

Dave: Let’s do it. [Laughter] [Singing softly] “Don’t stop believing.”

Brant: [Singing falsetto] “Just a small-town girl.”

Dave: [Laughter]That’s good!

Ann: A secular song, by the way. [Laughter]

Brant: That’s what I mean—

Ann: Yes!

Brant: —you can go to a secular concert, and when they hit a certain chorus, and then they modulate, and the drums drop out, and everybody is singing. Then, back in—everybody gets goosebumps. And the lyrics were about: “Tommy used to work on the docks,” you know? [Laughter] But we’re still having this reaction.

But if it’s in a Christian context—now, I’m thinking this as an analytical person: “What’s really happening here?” because I can manipulate people with music, their emotions. “Is God really present because…?” or “Is this whole thing fake?” Now, that’s the struggle that a lot of people have. If they’re told

Ann: —and if you said that: “Oooo!”

Brant: Oh, absolutely!

Ann: People would be like, “Wait! Don’t you feel God’s presence here? Because I do. I feel God’s presence in those situations.”

Brant: Then, I’m like, “Well, then, I guess I’ve blown it.”

Ann: Yes.

Brant: It’s so freeing to know, “Look, some people have an emotional reaction to stuff; some people won’t. It doesn’t change the reality of God’s presence. It doesn’t change His goodness; it doesn’t change where this is all ending; it doesn’t change the reality of goodness and evil in the world. All of that’s still true, whether I feel it or not.”

There’s so much in the Bible that’s basically—I mention David again; but he’s saying, “Why are you so downcast, my soul?” He’s talking to his own feelings and then, reminding himself about what’s actually true. So, yes, you come forward; you’re not feeling it. It’s still true. You’re still here.

Dave: Yes. Well, you said this yesterday, and it’s in your book: “If you study Scripture looking for emotions and feelings, you’re not going to find it.” I mean, it’s in there, but it isn’t the indicator that you’re a follower.

Brant: No, spirituality is faithfulness; it’s loyalty to God.

Ann: It’s surrender.

Brant: Yes, you can do that with emotions; you can do it without. A lot of men—not entirely; some women, too; but a lot of men—they feel like church doesn’t make any sense to them, or they’re just quiet about it, watching everybody else sing. Or watching,  because they’re not feeling it, and then thinking, “Something must be wrong with me.” And a lot of spouses think, “Something must be wrong with my spouse, because he’s not emoting [or “she’s not emoting”] like I do. So maybe they just don’t know God like I do.” I think it’s really unfortunate. It’s very disempowering.

The other things is,  your expectations—maybe, when you’re young, and you have these emotional reactions when you first become a believer and then, that changes, you think: “Okay, where did God go?” But we’re not in heaven yet. I mean, the kingdom is here, but it’s not in its fullness yet. That’s one thing I talk about in the book: “What should we reasonably expect from this relationship right now? Total bliss?” Well, we’re not there yet.

Back in Jesus’ time, when people got engaged, the dad would let his son go over to this other family and propose. The son would take gifts over, and he would take wine. He would go to this house. He would actually give gifts to the family, give gifts to the prospective bride, and propose this covenant of marriage. If she accepted—he would pour wine into a glass, and if she accepted—she signified that by drinking out of the glass. You can research this with Jewish customs; this is just what you did. And then you had a period of betrothal, where you weren’t together; you were together, yet apart, which is what it is called. You’re legally bound to this person.

Ann: This is Joseph and Mary.

Brant: Yes, right! They are in that period of betrothal. This is very common.

He would leave gifts [for them] to remember [you], as a prospective groom: “Now, you are engaged.” You have this betrothal; you leave gifts with the family and with her to remember you, while you go back to your dad’s house. You have to build a room. And when that room is finished on the house, that’s going to be the bridal suite. When that room is finished, your dad will say, “Now, it’s done.” It’s not up to you. Your dad will sign off on it, saying, “You can go get your bride now.”

Meantime, what is she feeling in all this? Months go by—sometimes 18 months or something—she not seeing him. I spend a couple of days away from my wife, and we’re out of sync, right?

Ann: Yes. [Laughter]

Brant: It’s like you’ve just met this person you don’t know; 18 months go by. You’ve got your friends preparing you, making bridal stuff, your dress; getting you all ready for this big day, when you don’t know when he’s coming. You just know it is.

Ann: I’m thinking about the feelings. They barely know each other.

Brant: Right!

Ann: Do they love each other, feeling-wise?

Brant: I would imagine it comes and goes, doesn’t it?

Ann: Yes.

Brant: Probably at first, it’s really exciting, and then, “Where…?” “What…?” “What’s he really like again?” [Laughter]

You’ve got your friends surrounding you, and you’re planning for this hopeful future you’re excited about. Well then, you hear a trumpet sound—and that trumpet is a shofar horn—and that signifies that the wedding is on. He’s coming now. That’s what they would do. The wedding party would all leave from that one house, go across to the—

Dave: —I’d say I’m getting excited right now, Brant.

Brant: Okay! Right?

Dave: Yes.

Brant: If you know much about—some people aren’t as familiar with this story—but we’re talking about our relationship to God here. Jesus seals the deal! At the Last Supper, He’s even saying, “Drink from this cup.” They would know what He’s talking about: “I won’t drink until I’m with you on that day.” It’s going to be a wedding feast. He even leaves gifts with them. He says: “I don’t give like the world gives. I’m going to give you My peace. So, you’ll have this peace; you’re going to have this comforting Spirit that will be with you,” and “I’m coming back.” And there’s going to be a trumpet sound—“and I’m going to come get you. But I don’t know when. My Dad does. And when this happens, I want you to know that, in My Father’s house, there are many rooms.” So, “All you guys, I’m coming back for you all.”

That’s where we are in our lives, though. To expect that you are going to be in total bliss—we’re that bride, together, yet apart. We’ve made that commitment; we sealed the covenant. And He is faithful. He is coming back. Whether you have emotional ups and downs, okay. Maybe you have some mountain moments; maybe long valleys, long dark nights of the soul; maybe so, but we’re in this weird period.

I think we should expect that. And we just keep showing up faithfully, and keep talking to Him, in this weird period. It sounds like what are lives are actually like. So, setting people up for this idealized bliss is—it’s not going to happen right now. You get hints of it, but we’re not there yet. We’re going to be. It’s going to be good! It’s going to be a big feast, a big party.

Ann: I love that both you, Dave, and Brant, you both tend to be more skeptical. You may not feel God’s love all the time, or have the emotions that, maybe, some people do in church as they’re worshiping or experiencing God. And yet, I look at the faithfulness of both of you. You’re both talking about Jesus all day long, basically, to people, drawing them to the King of kings. To me, without the emotions [in you], I have more respect for you. It’s in your head, but man, to follow that every day out of your faithfulness. The Scriptures; Jesus, what He has done; that’s pretty remarkable.

Brant: Thank you. You know what it is? This is love, because if I get—again, if I get—a reward for something, then it’s about me if I’m doing it for the reward, I should say, but if you don’t get a reward, and you do it anyway, why would you do that in a marriage, in a friendship? We’re supposed to care for people who are the least of these, who can’t turn around and invite us to their own banquet, right? We’re supposed to invite people to the banquet who can’t, because if we do that—why would you invite someone if they can’t give you anything? Because you love God.

Ann: Yes.

Brant: There’s no reward. Why would you do it? Just for love.

People who have the emotional closeness feel it like a warm blanket. God’s there; He’s whispering into their ear. I think it’s wonderful. For the rest of us, we shouldn’t be discouraged.

Dave: Now, Brant, do you get emotional in any parts of your life?

Brant: Yes, yes; when I talk about my kids growing up, this passage of time or whatever, that kills me. I don’t even want to talk about it now. [Laughter] And then,—

Dave: —CURE International.

Brant: —working with CURE! These hospitals, where these kids get surgeries, and you see the change, and you see God’s heart for them. I mean, anybody who goes there, it’s like, “This is”—even though they’re hospitals, it’s like—"This is an embassy of the kingdom of God.”

When you see the kingdom; little glimpses of it—little advance trailers of heaven is what I call it—I think that’s what healing is. We get goosebumps. We see the before and after; we see what is happening. And a mom is crying tears of joy. That makes me emotional. Being in the OR and watching a little girl, asleep on the table, and her life is being changed; she’s being prayed over.

Ann: Why did you ask that question?

Dave: Well, I just wondered—because Ann knows—I cry at every movie.

Brant: Interesting.

Dave: It doesn’t matter if it’s tender, sad; it could be hilarious—

Brant: Rambo®, Terminator.

Dave: Somewhere in Rambo, [Laughter] I will cry. Is it true?

Ann: It’s so true! [Laughter]

Dave: I was with a men’s group one time—we’re in the car—and they’re like, “Let’s put on Meet the Parents and see if Dave cries.” Sure enough, they’re like, “You’re crying right now! How in the world…?” [Laughter]

Brant: That’s interesting.

Dave: It’s like something will hit me. Usually, it’s like the gospel, and not blatantly; but some element that reminds me of the love of God for somebody who is far from Him, or somebody’s loving somebody who doesn’t deserve it. That’s where I get sparked.

In church, when I cry is when there’s a testimony, you know? It isn’t often during worship. It could be, but usually, when somebody is telling a life-changing story [of] how God met them, I’m like—look at me; I’m tearing up right now! That’s emotional for me. I’m a very factual guy, and that’s not always factual; but I’m watching the truth of the Word in real life, and there’s something that hits my soul there.

Brant: I’ve got a weird theory—like science doesn’t really know why we get goosebumps; they don’t really, and I don’t either, honestly. But it’s very common that we get goosebumps for the same things. To me, it’s when we have this glimpse of heaven. That’s when. People don’t know it. Non-believers get the goosebumps, too; they don’t know why. Why, at the Olympics, when all these nations are gathered together as one and at peace, and we see people marching ceremonially, I get goosebumps from it. Why? Even when I see a video of somebody being reunited: a soldier dad surprises his little daughter in a classroom.

Dave: Aw, that’s the best.

Brant: And we’re like, “Why?! Why are—"

Ann: The Voice or American Idol. They’ll say—someone will sing, and they’ll say: “Oh, I have goosebumps.”

Brant: Right! There’s a French word—it’s called frisson—for it, but it’s like they’re trying to figure out, “Why?” It’s this sudden surprising thing that happens; but it’s not chaos. It’s something surprising that makes sense.

So, like this surprise reunion: why does that give us goosebumps? An emotional reunion that you didn’t see coming, but: “Yes! It had to happen.” Why?! It’s a glimpse ahead. Somebody gets their hearing for the first time; we’ve seen those videos, [and] we’re all getting goosebumps. Why?! Why, when someone is healed, the deaf can hear; you don’t have to be a believer—[do] you get goosebumps? I think it’s because we’re nostalgic for this place we’ve never been, but we know that’s where we’re from.

Ann: That’s good.

Dave: We long for it.

Brant: Yes!

Dave: We’re made for it.

Brant: Right! Music—it’s the same thing if you chart; you know this as a musician—it’s the creation of a theme. The theme is taken down, and then restored, and then, sometimes, restored and modulates up a key or something, like, “Surprise!”

Dave: Yes, right.

Brant: But that’s what gives people goosebumps. They throw their hands up. They don’t even know why. Again, it’s this creation-fall-redemption hint that we know, deeply,is true. Even in instrumental music, it’s there.

 

Dave: Yes, here: [Guitar squeak] [Laughter]

Brant: Yes, do it!

Dave: No, I’m not going to do it, but when you said that, I was thinking, “The first time I heard this was during Covid. You’ll probably remember this, because it [played] all around the internet and then, in churches. But we were all at home, and nobody could go to church. And then, Kari Jobe releases this song [singing]: “The Lord bless you and keep you. . .” You know, it’s Numbers [6:24-26]: “. . . make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”

Here’s where I cried: [when] she sings, “May His favor be upon you, and a thousand generations, and your family, and your children, and their children, and their children.” The first time I heard that line, I was weeping, because I come from a broken home, two alcoholic parents. I’m trying to be a dad who honors Christ, with Ann—43 years now; 3 sons; 6 grandkids. God called us, when we got married 43 years ago: “Change the legacy. I’m going to use you to change the Wilson name, from adultery and alcohol, to a godly legacy.” We haven’t done that perfectly, but when she sang: “…and your family, and your children, and their children,” I’m just weeping. It was an emotional moment, because it was based on truth.

Brant: That song moves me every time.

Ann: Doesn’t it?

Brant: It honestly does. I think it’s part of that—thinking about God’s goodness from generation to generation. It reminded me of His faithfulness, which is such a balm, if you are a skeptical person: “He’s still faithful to me.”

Ann: Yes, that’s good.

Brant: And you’re aware of your own sin and brokenness and that He’s so good.

Also, it shifts to this [singing]: “Amen.”

Dave: Oh!I was going to do that.

Ann: [Singing] “Amen, amen.”

Brant: Okay, so—

Dave: —We could do it; we could sing the harmony.

Brant: —that’s an interesting progression. That kind of surprises you the first time you hear it, too; but it makes sense. We’re all saying, “So be it.”

Dave: Yes, yes: “Amen.”

Brant: You feel like we’re all saying that. There’s a lot of goosebumps going on.

I think—I hate to deconstruct everything and [Laughter] take the magic out of it, [Laughter] It’s not; it doesn’t. I just want us to know why we feel this way. I honestly think that’s it; it’s that we recognize certain elements of heaven. We can’t imagine it fully. There are colors we haven’t seen yet; there are songs we can’t imagine; there are notes we haven’t hit; but we’re going to.

Maybe, we even speak in music. Brant is speaking English, right?

Dave: Yes.

Brant: I’m not going to speak in Spanish. I’m not going to speak in Latin. Maybe we speak in music; we all can. There are little hints of it we get.

Dave: I’m so glad, and I feel blessed, that we can talk about doubt, struggle, and feeling like a misfit on this program.

Ann: Me, too.

Dave: I mean, honestly, it’s a Christian talk show, that you think you can’t express doubt and struggle, that’s real. You have to sort of live up here rather than, “No, this is where a lot of us struggle.” I’m just glad we get to do that. I want to thank our partners for supporting this ministry to allow us to do this kind of thing.

Brant: This is unique, too, what you both do. What you do is so refreshing, because the culture is so desperate for this. Who else is talking about hope like that? What we were just talking about, that’s where people who struggle—anybody who’s listening is like, “That’s me, too.” And yet, God is good.

In this culture, to have some sort of peace and non-anxious reminder. It’s not frenetic; it’s not banging against the wall, somehow, making you mad; it’s actually telling you, again, what the big picture is. This is worth keeping. I’m very glad that you shape it this way, both of you, and that we’ve got this thing going. So, whoever is listening, if you are supporting this, I personally thank you for being part of it.

Dave: Yes. We thank you, Brant, for driving up here. I literally could say, “Any week you want to come, you just come.” [Laughter]

Brant: Thanks!

Dave: I don’t care if you wrote a book or not, we’re going to talk with you about things.

I will say this [to our listeners]: if you want to give, it’s matched in this month of December.

Brant: Oh, cool.

Dave: Your gift is doubled. We need you to become part of our family and [be] our partner. This is why we get to do what we do; because people like you say, “I’m in.” Sometimes, that’s emotional; sometimes, that’s not emotional at all. [Laughter] It’s just the right thing to do because, “I believe in it, and I’m going to write a check,” or “…make a donation digitally, and change the world; change a legacy.”

Brant: I’m glad you said that about the emotion thing. Because I have found—and I know this is generally true, from what I’ve read—a lot of times we do wait for that emotional moment: “Then I’ll give,” “Then I’ll be generous.” But don’t do that. Just do it.

Dave: Yes.

Brant: What’s weird is your emotions will follow your actions, right?

Dave: —just like marriage.

Brant: Isn’t that something? [Laughter] “Yes! Right!”

It’s the same thing with generosity. Instead of waiting for this lightning strike; no, just do it, because it’s the right thing. And then, watch your heart follow that. You can actually train your heart. Maybe it’s a priority for you: “I want people to know about hope.” So, instead of waiting for that emotional thing: “No, I believe in this. This is what people need to hear. I need to hear it.” Maybe just act on that, and see if your heart doesn’t follow along.

Shelby: I once heard a pastor say that forgiveness is often granted before it is felt. It’s just true. It’s certainly been true in my life. That’s what came to mind as I heard Brant talking just a second ago. Your heart follows your actions. We’d love for you to join us in this ministry by becoming a monthly partner and experiencing the joy of what God is doing through FamilyLife Today. You can go online to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the “Donate Now” button at the top of the page.

When you do, as our “thanks” to you, we are going to send you a copy of Trillia Newbell’s 52 Weeks in the Word. With the start of a new year coming up, it’s a great time to renew your commitment to getting into the Scriptures. This book is going to help you do just that. Again, you can go online to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the “Donate Now” button at the top of the page, or you can give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329. again, that number is 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”

I’m Shelby Abbott, by the way; and you’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Brant Hansen on FamilyLife Today. You know, Brant has written a book called Blessed are the Misfits. Are you an introvert, who feels like you just don’t fit into church sometimes? You know, many congregations seem designed, really, for the outgoing people, but what about those who aren’t outgoing? Well, Brant offers observations on emotionally-biased assumptions about worship and spiritual life in this book. You can get a copy of his book by going to FamilyLifeToday.com and clicking on “Today’s Resources.”

And coming up tomorrow, many introverts often feel like they just don’t fit into American church culture, and Brant Hansen is one of those people. He’s back again tomorrow with Dave and Ann Wilson to talk about that and what it feels like to be a misfit in the Christian environment. That’s tomorrow. 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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