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  • Teaching the Gospel to Children: Foster Intimacy, part 1 by Rebecca Brewster Stevenson

    This is the third post in a series meant to be preceded by an introductory letter. Please read that here. 


    Foster Intimacy


    “Daring greatly means the courage to be vulnerable. It means to show up and be seen. To ask for what you need. To talk about how you’re feeling. To have the hard conversations.” ~ Brene Brown

    “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13: 12

    “The greatest gift you ever give is your honest self.” ~ Mister Rogers


    I took a psychology class in high school in which, among other things, we studied Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Perhaps you know it? It’s illustrated as a pyramid stratifying needs for human thriving.

    I’m not sure where Abraham Maslow’s work stands today in the world of psychological theory, but his pyramid makes some sense to me. At the base: physiological needs. They must be met. A starving child will die no matter how much her devastated mother loves her. A person must eat, sleep, be clothed and sheltered in order to live.



    The next level is the need for safety. In order to thrive, a person requires a measure of security and stability. We all do better with a fundamental freedom from fear.

    Third is the need for love and belonging. This goes beyond mere walls and protection. This is what we hope to get from a home. 

    Interestingly, the home that protects us physically, that provides shelter from the elements and a secure residence, actually opens us to vulnerability in a new way, one based on proximity. We live with each other. We know one another’s weaknesses.

    And this is why Maslow’s third level, love and belonging, makes sense to me as such. Within the physical safety of the home, one is safer still if one is loved.

    Vulnerability and Love

    The desire to be loved is fundamental.

    And, in that context, the need to be known is essential. After all, if someone says they love you but they don’t really know you, then they love a projection, an idea, a notion of you. They can’t really love you at all.

    So in order to be loved, we must be known, which means we must be vulnerable.

    Again, a home and a family naturally provide us with some measure of vulnerability. Mere proximity exposes us–and our weaknesses. We know whose shoes stink and who farted during the movie, who scares easily and who gags at the thought of tomatoes.

    What we want and need is to be safe within that vulnerability.

    Sure, we could hide our shoes and avoid tomatoes, but how much better to be welcomed into the house along with our stinky shoes because we are so much loved and wanted at home that the shoes don’t really matter?

    Being known and loved for who we are: that’s what we long for.



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Bible Study
On Tuesdays during the academic year, I teach a Bible study along with my friend Margaret Thielman. Some weeks it’s my turn to teach, some weeks it’s hers, but in either case, you can listen here.
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The Books

Overview of Healing Maddie Brees

This is the story of Maddie and Frank Brees, seventeen years into a marriage they’ve crafted with honesty and care. When Maddie is diagnosed with cancer, they discover they’re not as honest as they thought, and the burden of her present illness is compounded by the beliefs and experiences of their pasts.

A work of literary fiction, the novel took me many years to write. It’s a story of marriage and of illness, and also of unvisited grief. It questions what we expect from one another and from God, weighs the significance of adolescent love, and examines the perhaps extraordinary demand of our physical beings on our spiritual selves.

And it’s filled with hope.


Overview of Wait: Thoughts and Practice in Waiting on God.

Waiting might be the most common experience of human existence, but some waits are worse than others. Some are longer; and for some, the stakes seem frighteningly high. Whatever you’re waiting for, chances are you’re not enjoying the wait itself. The whole idea of waiting, after all, means to endure in the hope that things will get better.

Meanwhile, we might glean something from our protracted dissatisfaction, and this work of creative non-fiction explores some possibilities. Initially, I drew from my own family’s very long wait, but soon I was including the experiences of friends as well as stories of waiting in scripture and studies of some art and poetry. The book takes a careful look at different aspects of waiting, offering a perspective that might make your own wait something you are actually grateful for.

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Wait: Thoughts and Practice in Waiting on God.

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About author
Rebecca Brewster Stevenson

I was born in California, spent two years of my childhood in Japan, and grew up in Pittsburgh. While Long Island’s North Fork, home to my maternal grandparents and parents, will always be my second home, I have lived most of my adult life in Durham, North Carolina, where my husband and I have raised our three children.

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“Most powerfully, Stevenson links the physical to the spiritual, letting Maddie’s breast cancer open her to a spiritual journey, letting the veneration of the Eucharist open space for understanding illness, letting love for the mortal body open space for love of the divine. A gorgeous meditation on broken bodies, fractured faith, and the soul-wrenching path to serenity.”

–Kirkus Reviews