Interview: Brian Fikkert on Becoming Whole

Brian Fikkert recently sat down with our very own Laura Haley to discuss his latest book, Becoming Whole—and how the stories we tell ourselves shape our work with the poor. Read the transcript of their conversation below!

Laura: When Helping Hurts was released 10 years ago this year. What are some things you’ve learned since writing that book?

Brian: So many things, I think, Laura. God continues to speak into our lives and to work on us across time. I think trying to always be in a posture or learning and growing is a great way to be. I don’t do that perfectly, but I like to be in that mode. I continue to change and to grow. I would say there’s a couple of things the Lord has shown me.

One is, I think Western civilization and the Western church are facing deeper problems than I ascertained 10 years ago. I think we’re seeing a breakdown of the church. I think we’re seeing a breakdown in the culture as a whole. Families are falling apart. We’ve got greater fragmentation in our society than ever before. Some would argue that we are devolving into tribalism. The political process is some evidence of that. I actually think the tribalism is indicative of something even deeper: the extreme individualism and materialism that’s at the core of Western civilization and that’s affected the Western church. That’s one thing. I’ve started to look at what does that mean in my own life and how is that affecting me personally. I can see all kinds of dysfunctions in me as a result of that.

A second thing I’m learning is that what the church really needs right now in its work with the poor is not just one more technique. I’m an economist, so I tend to think we just need one more incentive or one more trick or one more tip, and that will get poor people to do the right things, and they’ll come out of poverty.

What I’m starting to realize is that what’s really needed is for the church to really come to a fundamentally different understanding of the nature of God, of the nature of human beings, and of how both God and human beings relate to the world. That takes some time to unpack, and that’s why we wrote the book. I think we’re actually living out the wrong story in our churches, in our individual lives, and the culture as a whole. As a result, we’re not very effective in our efforts to help the poor.

Laura: Kelly Kapic is the co-author of the book. How has he helped shaped what you had to say?

Brian: That’s a great question. Kelly is a great friend and a professor at Covenant College, and really a renowned theologian. What Kelly has brought to the project is the following: at the center of poverty alleviation is people. Poverty alleviation is essentially about people experiencing change. So to understand poverty and poverty alleviation, we need a biblical anthropology, a biblical understanding of the very nature of human beings. One of the first things we read in the Bible is that human beings are made in the image of God. To understand human beings, we actually have to understand God, because we’re made in His image.

Suddenly, we’re into really big questions about who is God, what is God like, and how does God relate to His world? So we really need for poverty alleviation to be rooted in a biblical understanding of God and of human beings. There’s no better person in the world to help with that than Kelly. His particular area of expertise is the nature of God. He’s a Trinitarian theologian. He’s also an expert on biblical anthropology. Kelly has worked with me to help me to understand both God and human beings better and to understand how God and human beings are working in this world, and how change happens.

Laura: How long have you worked together at Covenant College?

Brian: I’m in my 21st year here and I can’t remember how long Kelly has been here. I think he has been here about 16 or 17 years. We’ve both been colleagues at the college for a long time, but it’s not normal for economists and theologians to talk to each other a lot. In fact, there’s a long history of economists and theologians not even liking each other. In fact, there’s actually books written about why economists and theologians can’t get along.

And so, I just really benefited from having Kelly as a colleague. We’ve had many conversations, many lunch meetings, conversations over long periods of time. Kelly is the kind of person who whenever he speaks, he says something that’s worth listening to. In a faculty meeting, Kelly would raise his hand and make some comment. I would often be thinking, “What is he talking about? I’ve got to learn more about that.” Over a long period of time, he’s been mentoring me, even without even knowing it. In the more recent years, we’ve had more conversations and those conversations are culminating in this book project.

Laura: Your relationship is almost a testament to becoming whole!

Brian: It’s really true! Kelly has really helped me become whole. I’m not there, but I’m in the process. It’s interesting because Kelly’s wife, Tabitha, was a consultant to the Chalmers Center about 17 years ago, actually. Then I haven’t had large amounts of contact with her. Now, I’m actually working with her on something else right now. She said to me the other day, “You’re different than you used to be.” And it’s partly because of Kelly. It’s probably because of Kelly’s influence on my life and what a precious thing that is.

Laura: The book tries to redefine how we should view the American Dream. What do you think comes to your mind or most people’s mind when you think of the American Dream?

Brian: I think for many of us, the American Dream is this image of individuals who are free from all constraint, and they are able to work hard. As a result of their work, they are able to flourish economically and to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, and then they accumulate more and more wealth.

The truth of the matter is, there’s some good in that. Western civilization has been remarkable at bringing people out of poverty in the West. And as the rest of the world right now is adopting many Western institutions and markets, we’re seeing massive reductions in material poverty. In fact, material poverty has dropped more in the past 25 years than throughout all of human history combined. There’s an amazing story that’s unfolding before our eyes. There’s something good about Western civilization. There’s something good about the kinds of institutions we’ve created. We’re good at making stuff. We’re good at creating cultures that produce things. If that’s all that life were about, then the West would be flourishing fully. So there’s something here that’s good that we want to tap into, but there are some problems that I think are emerging as well.

Laura: When I think of the American Dream, I think of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It all sounds like a beautiful dream, but in some senses, it starts to feel like the golden calf.

Brian: You’ve got it. You’ve got it, Laura. The idea of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To some degree, that’s an okay statement. The problem is that the way that we’re interpreting that in our culture is highly materialistic and highly individualistic. And so, what we’re interpreting as the pursuit of happiness is really the pursuit of individual material prosperity. The way that that’s working itself out in our culture is actually doing lots of damage to us and to the social fabric of our society.

Laura: Yes, I completely agree. You talk about stories of change in Becoming Whole. Why do you think the stories we believe are so important?

Brian: This goes back to the teachings of scripture, and to insights of unbelievers. Aristotle talked about this. It turns out that human beings are shaped by stories. The stories that we tell of what the good life is and of how that good life can be achieved really shape us because what happens is we start to live into that story. We start to pursue the goals in that story and we start to use the means of achieving those goals that the story has given us. In the process, we change. We become like the story we’re living into.

For example, think about basketball. The goal of basketball is to win the game. You do that by scoring more points than your opponent. I’m 6’10”, so basketball is near and dear to my heart. Over time, if you live into that story, you practice. You practice dribbling. You practice passing. You practice jumping. You practice playing defense. Over time, as you live into that story, you become the kind of person who is good at basketball. You become the kind of person who is good at successfully living into that story.

But what if the story is to accumulate more stuff for yourself—and do it by either by hard work or by grabbing things from other people? Well, you’re going to become the kind of person who’s good at that story. That’s true for many of us in the West. It’s true for me. I’m very good at accumulating wealth and I’m very good at getting there through hard work and through education. Those kinds of things are at the root of the American Dream. But in the process, I’m increasingly isolated from neighbors. And I don’t have time for my wife and kids if I only live into that story.

So there’s a sense in which I need to tell myself there’s a different way to flourish and there’s a different way of being in the world. That it’s about community. It’s about relationship. Then that has to affect my behaviors. I’ve got to learn how to get along with people. I’ve got to learn to be nice to you. And so, which story we live in too, shapes us, and we become the kinds of people who live out those stories, either for good or for bad.

Laura: So many churches just want to be told what to do when it comes to poverty alleviation. Why can’t we just have some simple tips and tricks for helping people out of poverty? Why is it a little more complicated?

Brian: I think there are two reasons. First, while tips and tricks are important, they can’t cover every situation. People kind of want to know the recipe and exactly what they should do in every situation. Well, the reality of it is that every person who’s in poverty and every community that’s in poverty is a bit different. There’s no one-size-fits-all formula that you can just hurl at people and it works. You have to use wisdom and judgment. Because you need to use wisdom and judgment, you actually have to have a clear understanding of what the ultimate goal is, and generally speaking, how God works to move people towards that goal. If you don’t know what the goal is, you’re not going to get there, right?

Right now, I’m working with a friend of mine who is homeless. There’s no formula for this one. I mean, this particular individual is highly unusual. There’s no handbook that I can pick up that says, “Okay. Now, turn to page 35 and this is what you do.” He’s not like that. He’s a very unique individual. I have to make it up as I go along. I have to improvise, but it’s helpful to know what the story is that we’re improvising. It’s helpful to know what tune we’re trying to sing, what play we’re trying to act out, where God wants this person to end up, what flourishing looks like, and how God generally works to achieve such flourishing. If I have that in my head, it guides me. It doesn’t give me the answer for every situation, but it points me in a particular direction. It’s more than tips and tricks.

The second reason is this, and this is a harder hitting message, and it’s a little harder to understand. The American church is actually not in a position to even get to use the tips and tricks that are in When Helping Hurts. The Chalmers Center is working right now in West Africa in the country of Togo. Togo ranks dead last in almost every category of human flourishing. It’s one of the poorest countries in the world. And yet, by God’s grace, we’ve been able to work with the poorest churches in the world in Togo to minister to about 75,000 people. It’s a French-speaking country, so there are language barriers for us. And it’s a country that’s characterized by voodoo and a sense of hopelessness. 75,000 people there have been helped by churches the Chalmers Center has worked with.

We are located on Lookout Mountain, Georgia, overlooking the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Chattanooga is annually ranked as the most biblically-literate city in the country. There are churches on most street corners in the city of Chattanooga. The wealth here is tremendous. We have highly educated people. The Chalmers Center only works through the church. We don’t work with the poor directly. So we work with churches in Chattanooga and I would say in the past 20 years, here in the buckle of the Bible Belt, the Chalmers Center has helped churches to minister to about a dozen people.

Now why is it that we can go to Togo, one of the hardest places to work in the world with some of the poorest churches in the planet, and we reach 70,000 people, and in Chattanooga, where the churches are supposed to be the model churches, we’ve helped about a dozen people in 20 years? Why is that? Well, it’s because the churches in Togo are churches of the poor. They’re comprised of poor people. The churches are in relationship with poor people because they consist of poor people.

In America, many of our churches have no relationships with poor people. They’re not in the same communities as the poor are. They have no relationships with poor people. As people try to implement some of the tips and tricks that the Chalmers Center is promoting, they don’t have an arena to do it in because they don’t have relationships with the poor.

Well, why is that? That gets at some of the core issues in American society and some of the core issues in the American church that we’re trying to address in Becoming Whole. We’re not really living out the story of the Kingdom of God because the Kingdom of God is all about the poor. We’re living out the story of the American Dream, which pulls us away from the poor. Because we’re living out the wrong story, we can’t even begin to apply the tips and tricks.

Laura: One of the impactful statements I read in your book was, “Is it our vision to turn ghettos into suburbs?” I think if we really thought about, a lot of churches would dream that to be successful—to turn a ghetto into a suburb—but is that the wrong story we’re living out for our church, for our poverty alleviation efforts?

Brian: That’s a great question, Laura. If the goal is to have more stuff, to pursue the American Dream, then we should try to turn the ghettos into the suburbs because the suburbs are flourishing more than the ghettos are. Of course, some of this is changing. Urban centers are starting to flourish, but I think you know what I mean.

What if that’s not the right goal? The point we’re trying to make in Becoming Whole is that the evidence is that this is the wrong goal because even though the United States is exploding in terms of its material prosperity, we’re not flourishing in a host of ways.

For example, take mental illness. From the 1930s to the present, the United States has experienced unprecedented increases in our material prosperity, but mental illness has continued to grow in Western civilization. There’s a strong reason to believe from theology, social science research, and neuroscience research that it’s actually our pursuit and acquisition of material wealth that’s contributing to our mental illness. That we are not wired to be producing and consuming robots. We’re wired for relationship. As we’re pursuing all this material prosperity, we’re actually experiencing breakdown in community, breakdown in relationships with our family members. We’re becoming highly self-centered.

As a result, mental illness is increasing. We’re not wired for this. We’re wired for something different. We’re wired for relationship. We’re in a culture that says, “Stop having relationships. Have stuff.” The evidence is that it’s not working. Why should we think that the goal of poverty alleviation is to turn the poor into us when we know that we’re not flourishing?

There’s something ironic at the core of our poverty alleviation strategies. We’re saying, “Hey everybody, come become like us. Join us.” When the reality of it is, we’re not doing very well. We need a better story for the poor and we need a better story for ourselves. That’s what Becoming Whole is trying to articulate. What is God’s story? What does human flourishing really look like for the materially well-off and for the materially poor? We need a different goal and a different way of achieving that goal.

Laura: I like that vision, and I’m sure a bunch of your readers will as well. What are some negative side effects when we sell the American Dream to people below the poverty line?

Brian: What are some negative side effects when we sell the American Dream to people above and below the poverty line? For those above the poverty line, we have a false idea of what human flourishing looks like. We’re actually trying to be in the world to be a certain way that we’re not created to be. It’s like we’re square pegs trying to fit ourselves into round holes. It doesn’t fit right. It doesn’t feel good because we’re wired for something else. That’s why we’re seeing mental illness explode. We’re trying to be something that we’re not wired to be, and our bodies, and our minds, and our nerve-endings are screaming out, and saying, “I’m not meant for this. I’m meant for something else.” That’s the danger for those of us with material prosperity. It’s a false notion of human flourishing.

Then what’s so scary is, again, we impose that on poor people. We say to them, “Here’s the goal.” Then we also expect them to use methods of achieving that goal that don’t work for them. “Pull yourself by your own bootstraps” doesn’t work for people who don’t have bootstraps. It doesn’t actually work for anybody.

It’s so interesting when you go back to the Garden of Eden, God says to Adam, “It’s not good for you to be alone.” And He gives Adam a companion. Then once Adam has that companion, God says to Adam and Eve, “Go work.” God provides community before work. Community and belonging precede productivity. God Himself is relational. For eons before God creates the world, God lives in community. So community precedes action in the very nature of the Trinity.

Then we say to poor people, “Go out and get a job.” They don’t have community in many situations. They’re isolated. We say to poor people, “Go get a job.” Well, not even God acts without community. We’re expecting poor people to act without community. It doesn’t work. We give them the wrong goals and the wrong means of achieving those goals and they can’t do it. They need community. They need safety. They need family. Once that’s established, we can start talking about being productive and working. The American Dream is bad for the rich and it’s bad for the poor. It doesn’t work for either one of us.

Laura: I have a friend who had a relationship with someone who was homeless. They tried to give him a connection with a friend they knew who had a construction job. When their homeless friend just said, “No.” They were like, “I don’t understand.” But they weren’t understanding the psychological effects of what it is to be homeless, what it means to not be able to earn a job yourself, and have people give it to you or there are just a plethora of things that just you have to understand.

Brian: Laura, you’ve got it. You’ve got it. Even think about when you applied for a job at the Chalmers Center. You were probably nervous, right? You’re probably a little bit frightened. At least, I always am for a job interview. We need our people rooting for us. We need somebody at home going, “Laura, you can do this. I believe in you. You’ve got gifts. You’ve got abilities. You can try to do this.” You know what? If it doesn’t work, they’re still there for you, so there’s enough stability that you can take the risk.

Laura: Yeah, I know I can go home to a social safety net, instead of going home and not knowing where I might sleep that day.

Brian: That’s exactly right. That social safety net is more than just stuff. It’s encouragement, isn’t it? It’s belonging. It’s love that provides you the foundation from which you can apply for a job. It’s the same for all of us.

Laura: Can you describe one person or church who inspires you on your journey to becoming whole?

Brian: I get most inspired by poor churches in the Majority World. It’s not one person. It’s the body of Christ in the Majority World because these are people who have so little in terms of this world’s wealth. Oftentimes, they’ve been neglected. They’ve been frowned upon. They’ve been told that they’re less than human or they’re discardable. Yet, there’s often a profound sense of joy in those churches, a profound sense that God is present in their midst, that He is dwelling with them, that they can call upon Him, that He might actually do something.

So often, my prayers feel a bit like putting a note in a bottle and casting it out to sea. I hope somebody’s going to pick it up, but I don’t really have great confidence that anybody’s going to pick it up and read the note. So often, my posture in prayer is like that. The church of the Majority World, they believe that God is present. They believe He’s here. They believe that He dwells amongst us and that you can talk to Him. He actually is going to show up and do something.

I get inspired by seeing how they live out that story of God’s presence, of God dwelling with us. That’s what it was like in the Garden. That’s what it’s like in the New Jerusalem. Now the dwelling of God is with people. I see in many churches in the Majority World that they believe that God is dwelling with us right now in the local body in the church. We need to get more of that in the Western church right now.

Laura: That must be such a beautiful picture to see the verse come to life, “Blessed are the poor” because you get to see their joy. I think I’ve seen that before and you’re like, they’re more joyful than me on my best day.

Brian: That’s exactly it. The American dream isn’t the goal. It’s something else. I don’t want to glorify the poor. I don’t want to make it sound like they have it all together or that everything’s just great for them. It’s not. They’re facing outrageous challenges. But to see the joy on the faces of God’s people in very difficult circumstances is very inspiring.

Laura: I think it gives you the posture that we have something to learn from them.

Brian: That’s it. Because if the goal is the American Dream, then many of us have achieved it. We have got the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We know how to do it and so the poor need us to show them how to get there, but once you realize that that’s not the goal, that it’s a different goal, it’s about human flourishing. Then suddenly, we don’t know how to do it very well. Suddenly, people who are very poor might actually know something about it that we don’t know. And so, it can put us in a posture of mutual learning and of mutual encouragement and growth towards this other goal that they might actually know something more about than we do.

Laura: I honestly think being involved in relational ministry has been a huge step in my spiritual walk. When I was in college, I was encouraged to attend church, read my Bible, and pray. These were all good things, but at one point, in the midst of ticking all my Christian boxes, I kind of found myself asking, “Is this all there is for me?” This past fall, I got involved in assisting my church with the chapel at my local community kitchen. It’s a short 20-minute service for the homeless community in Chattanooga. There, I get the opportunity to sit and pray with people who have dramatically different backgrounds and lives than my own. It can be a really slow relational process getting to know everyone, but it’s been really life-giving for my faith.

Brian: You’re hitting a grand slam, home run there, Laura. That’s exactly right. Part of what happens as we live out a story is we develop systems that perpetuate those stories. What we try to argue in our book, and this, of course, is not unique to us, is that the systems of Western civilization, the institutions that we’ve created perpetuate the story that we’re living out.

The story of American individualism is embedded in all of our systems and shows up in college and it shows up in graduate school. What you just described was a very individualistic experience. You’re studying alone. You’re striving alone. You’re trying to make something of yourself on your own. You can become extremely self-centered, without even realizing it. The whole system perpetuates that. Without even knowing it, you’re being acculturated, and so am I, into a way of being in the world that’s not for wholeness. So we don’t even know what the right world looks like. We have to improvise a different kind of world, and a different way of being in the world because the world we’ve created isn’t for flourishing.

Laura: Even though becoming whole is technically a lifelong process, what are some ways you began to implement these principles in your personal life?

Brian: Becoming whole is a lifelong journey that doesn’t culminate until Christ actually comes again, right? It’s a process, but it’s interesting. The more that I’ve pressed into that story of living in a proper relationship with God, self, others, and the rest of creation, the more I feel just a little bit more whole.

The first is, I’m just trying to experience the presence of God better and more fully. The church setting that I was raised in tends to be very intellectual, tends to be very focused on doctrine, on right thinking. I appreciate all of that, but you can get fooled into thinking that having the right idea is the same thing as having a relationship with God Almighty. It’s not the same thing. I’m trying to learn how to just experience God’s presence by meditating on His Word, by spending more time in prayer, and by just being still before Him.

An author that I like says what we should do when we go into reading the Bible is to recognize that it’s not just words on the page. It’s the living God speaking to us, and that what we should do is say to ourselves, “In your presence Lord, come Holy Spirit,” before we read, to remind us that we’re in the presence of God Almighty.” Then he suggests, this is the author, John Jefferson Davis, who’s a professor at Gordon-Conwell Seminary. He says, when you daydream, you reorient yourself, and you say, “In your presence Lord, come Holy Spirit.” That as you do that, as you practice that over time, you get better at it.

Tim Keller has a marvelous book on prayer. He says some similar things. He says that when he first really started to try to commune with God, even as a pastor, he struggled. He learned how to meditate on the Word. As he did that, he slowly developed different kind of muscles. You develop the muscles to do that kind of thing. You can sit for longer periods of time and you can actually enjoy God in a way that you couldn’t before. I’m still not very good at it and I still tend to daydream. I still tend not to have the patience I need to have for it, but I’m noticing I’m getting better at it and as I do that, I think it’s helping me become more of a whole person.

I think I’m moving into deeper relationships with people. I tend to be very task-oriented. I produce things. I’m still too much like that. I’m still very goal-driven, very task-oriented. I’m starting to learn how to just be with people better, and how to just spend time with people, and just to enjoy that that has merit in its own right.

The vice president for academic affairs at Covenant College, Jeff Hall, when he sits down before a meal, he often prays, “Lord, help us to, in this meal, to have a foretaste and an anticipation of the banquet feast that is to come.” That’s really affected me, that line. Oh, this isn’t just eating. This isn’t just food. This is about being together in community as a foretaste of the banquet feast that’s to come. That’s given me more pause as I eat and more of a celebration of what that can be than I used to have, I think.

Another piece of it is in the Old Testament, the way that Israel was supposed to relate to people who were poor was not transactional. It was relational. It actually says in Leviticus, in the context of the commands about the year of Jubilee, that the goal is that the poor might live beside us in the land. It’s not just about helping poor people to get a leg up. It’s actually living in community with the poor. That influences things like our housing patterns, and our schooling patterns, and where we choose to do recreation. The Old Testament says that we should be doing this in such a way that the poor are with us in community with us. I’m trying to figure out what that looks like in my own life.

The Lord has brought into my life in the past several years, a number of homeless people. Instead of saying to myself, “There’s a homeless shelter for them.” I try to say to myself, “How can I be in community with them?” That’s made my life crazy in all kinds of ways. Right now, there’s a gentleman living in a car in my driveway. I’ve helped him buy the car, and he sleeps in the car because it’s better than sleeping in the woods. I’m not prepared to have him in my house because he has a history of violence. But I have a gentleman sleeping in a car with an electric blanket in my driveway. That’s because I’m trying to figure out how to live beside him in the land. It’s messy, and half the time I don’t like it, but do I think it’s good for him? I do. I think it’s good for me too.

Laura: My husband and I live downtown. In our apartment complex, we don’t have any low-income neighbors, but since I live in proximity to downtown, I walk past a lot of homeless people pretty often. I know there are different dangers in giving homeless people money or you don’t know if you have the time to take them to a meal, but I always set out in my mind that it should be everything in relationship. Maybe if I don’t have any money, I just stop, and I look at them, look at them in the eye, and ask them for their name, and ask a little bit about their day. Because I think many years ago, in my mind, I was like I just don’t have time to talk to anyone. When I finally just said to myself, “Hey, I have two minutes that I can treat this person like they are a human being and that they should be wanted.”

Brian: That’s awesome! That’s it. Slowing down.

Laura: Just taking a little time to slow down and treat people like they have human dignity that God has bestowed on them.

Brian: I’m feeling a little convicted as you’re talking because this morning, I was running a little late, and I went right out to my car. The gentleman who is sleeping in my driveway got out of his truck and said, “Brian, I’m having a lot of pain. I have gout in my knee. Could you take me to the hospital right now?” I said, “Friend, I can’t. I’m late for work. I’ve got a class full of 50 students waiting for me.” I really couldn’t, and he has other ways to get there. He says, “Well, could you get me some Tylenol to deaden the pain?” I said, “No. I’m late for work.” I was getting in my car and I thought, “Oh, for pity’s sakes. How awful is it that 50 students couldn’t wait for one minute? They probably don’t want to hear the lecture anyway.” What kind of a culture is it that the students couldn’t wait for one minute for me to run in the house and get him some Tylenol?

So I jumped out of my car, ran back in the house, got some Tylenol, ran back out, and I’m frantic, but that’s kind of the problem. We’re so focused on production, and I am in spades. I’m so focused on production and efficiency that I view this homeless man as a problem instead of viewing him as an image-bearer whom God has brought me into relationship with that God would want me to pause for a few minutes and be with. I’m focused on producing. That’s how dysfunctional our culture has made me. Now, it’s my responsibility, but that’s the water I’ve been drinking my whole life and there’s got to be a different way of being.

Laura: I think in this process of seeking to become whole in your life, God’s been teaching me that you just have to give yourself an abundance of grace in the failures because I have to be honest, I don’t always get it right as well. Sometimes I really might not have that extra minute or I might walk past that person, but as the Holy Spirit convicts us, I think, when we do take that time, I don’t think we ever come away regretting that piece of relationship we got to spend with them.

Brian: An abundance of grace—that’s awesome! That should be like a book title! Maybe we should have called the book An Abundance of Grace instead of Becoming Whole. When we live out of that, we have, well, it brings healing to ourselves, which makes us able to extend that grace to others, right. And so, that’s a good word for me, actually. I really appreciate that.

Laura: I think on my journey, I’m going to just seek to be in relationship with people a little more often.

Brian: That’s it. I’m the worst at it. I tell people when I speak I’m like a relational theorist. I don’t actually have any! I’m learning and growing in the process myself.

Laura: Well, Brian, thank you so much for your time today. What day is your book coming out?

Brian: March 5th is the release date. Then there’s actually a second book that’s coming out, The Field Guide to Becoming Whole, which will come out later in 2019. The March 5th release is the big picture and the theory and sets up the Field Guide that comes out later in the year.

Laura: We’re so excited about it. Thank you!

Brian: Thank you, Laura!

Becoming Whole is available for pre-order now. To learn more and download a sample chapter, got to The book will release on March 5th, 2019.

Laura Haley

Laura Haley

Laura formerly served as the social media manager and designer at the Chalmers Center. She enjoys serving weekly at her local community kitchen and has a desire to see the church build relationships with disenfranchised people. Laura lives in Chattanooga, TN with her husband Tim.

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