May 19, 2022 -


When Faith and Tragedy Collide: Fear, Anxiety and Faith in Today’s Broken World

Wendy Chen

Racially motivated hate crimes, mass shootings, and other tragedies have made so many of us feel unsafe in the world. In this latest episode of the Created For Podcast, Wendy Chen shares how she tries to make sense of her feelings about current events, and how she finds healing and is learning to bring her entire self to her faith walk. Wendy is one of the Cru staff behind Created For. She’s been a part of developing it from the beginning. You might remember seeing her at our two live events where she served as our excellent and hospitable emcee. She serves as the Executive Director of Cru Embark, a ministry that helps 20-somethings in the city live richer, fuller lives. She currently resides in Portland, Oregon, with her husband Josh and their four children. Wendy comes from an ethnically Chinese family, but was born in South Korea. She and her family immigrated to the United States when she was a child. In addition to talking about how her faith intersects with current events, she shares with us about how her immigrant experience has impacted her faith and her family, and how it’s given her heart for the ones often overlooked and misunderstood in our society.

“An embodied faith is one that grieves.” – Wendy Chen

“You can’t reconcile what is happening in the world with our faith. But how do I live in the world with all the broken pieces? Grounded and rooted in a way that Jesus is the driving force of who I am and what I do?” -Wendy Chen

Episode Reflection

Invitation to Explore

Some of us have been taught that being a believer in Jesus means we need to leave our emotions, fears and anxieties “at the door.” But God invites us to bring all of who we are into his presence. 

In response to recent tragic events, Wendy Chen says, “You can’t reconcile what is happening in the world …. But how do I live in the world with all the broken pieces — grounded and rooted in a way that Jesus is the driving force of who I am and what I do?”

The Bible is filled with songs of lament — of people crying out to God in times of distress, injustice and sorrow. These passages teach us that God invites us to bring all ourselves, including our difficult emotions, to him. 

Scripture to Study

“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,   
for he has been good to me.”

Psalm 13 (NIV)

Wise Words to Consider

“A disembodied faith would be a faith that is disconnected. Your body, your lived experience, is disconnected from what you are learning. I grew up in a church like that. I grew up in a church where you had to leave all your stuff at the door before you came in. Because we just didn’t have space or language for some of those things. … 

When I think about an embodied faith, it is that wholeness. Like how does the Gospel and Jesus permeate through every piece of who you are? … I think an embodied faith is one that is lived out. It’s a lived-out, actionable faith … What does it look like to bring all of who I am, those pieces — the good parts and the broken parts in my faith lived out? So I think it is wholeness. Wholeness in living out my faith in an authentic way, one that is rooted and grounded to the realities of our world. ” – Wendy Chen 

A Prayer to Lead You

God, we are weary. We are brokenhearted. Tragedy after tragedy and injustice after injustice cause us to lose hope. We feel disoriented and angry. Help us to trust in you. Remind us of your goodness. We bring our full selves to your presence. We know we can cast all our anxiety on you. Renew our hope. We long for the day when you will make all things new. Amen. 

A Practice to Begin

How do we pay attention to what is happening in us below the surface? Oftentimes we can be tempted to ignore things in our lives that cause us stress or give us anxiety. Wendy talks about the practice of “naming” her fears and anxieties: “When you name it, it takes the shame away. It takes the anxiety away,” she says

Take some time to name the stressors, anxieties and fears in your life. Consider making a list and inviting God to be with you in these emotions. Consider sharing your list with a close friend or a trusted mentor. 

How does naming your anxieties take the power away? How does it help you integrate your emotions and anxieties into your faith, into God’s presence? 

As you go through the rest of your week, whenever you find yourself facing anxiety, fear or stress, call to mind this truth: God welcomes all of it. 

Questions to Answer

As we seek to end “the stress-cycle,” as Wendy calls it, one act of resistance we can incorporate into our lives is embracing joy. Ask yourself what brings you joy and delight. What do you love and what makes you laugh? Wendy reminds us that things that give us joy and delight also give us a glimpse into what we were created to do. How can you add more joy and more delight into your life? 

Resources to Help

Book: Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski

Podcast Episode: Unlocking Us with Brené Brown: Brené with Emily and Amelia Nagoski on Burnout and How to Complete the Stress Cycle

Podcast Episode: A Simple Calling: Love People and Love God with Wendy Chen


You are listening to the Created For Podcast. We believe that everyone was created to make a unique impact in the world. Created For is a podcast to explore ideas around purpose, calling, and discovering how God is inviting you to influence the world in your own way right now. I’m your host, Michele Davis.

Wendy Chen is joining us for today’s episode. She is on the executive team for the City Division of Cru, specifically giving leadership to Cru City’s ministry to twenty-somethings, which is called Embark. Wendy is also one of the Cru staff behind Created For. She’s been a part of developing this from the beginning. You might remember seeing her at our two live events, where she served as our excellent and hospitable MC. We want you to know that in this episode, Wendy and I talk briefly about a recent attack that happened in Dallas, killing three Korean women in their place of employment. Just a few days after we recorded this episode, another act of white supremacist terror was inflicted on a Buffalo, New York, grocery store in a predominantly BIPOC community, killing ten image-bearers of God. And then on Sunday, the next day, a Taiwanese church was attacked by a mass shooter, killing one man and injuring several others. We are heartbroken, and we stand in solidarity with the victims and the communities who experienced this terrorism. We lament with these losses, and we long for the day when hate is eradicated and all things are made new. And we’re here. Hey, Wendy!

Wendy Chen: [00:03:45] Hey!

Michele: [00:03:46] Oh, I am just really glad to have you back on the show. The show? The podcast? Whatever. Whatever we’re calling it.

Wendy: [00:03:54] Yeah. Created For.

Michele: [00:03:56] Created For! This space where we’re all listening today. Yeah, how are you doing? How are you kind of coming into our convo today?

Wendy: [00:04:05] To be honest, I’m a little bit scattered. You know, my husband’s out of town for a week, and so it’s me solo parenting with four kids at four different life stages. I have a middle schooler, I have an elementary school, preschool, and then I have a baby, right? And so I think that — just navigating drop off — feels like a lot.

Michele: [00:04:24] Oh yeah.

Wendy: [00:04:25] Yeah. So I’m a little tired, but I’m here.

Michele: [00:04:28] I mean, you’re basically navigating an entire parenting book. Like every stage.

Wendy: [00:04:36] All I know is I’ve been changing diapers for 14 years, and that was not what I had imagined.

Michele: [00:04:42] 14 years.

Wendy: [00:04:44] Yep. And so there’s some things that are really, really great about parenting now, 14 years later. But I also feel like the younger ones are kind of getting the short end of the stick because I’m just not 27 anymore, you know? I don’t have park time and playdate time. I’m just — I’m like, “Can’t you just figure it out, people?”

Michele: [00:05:06] Yeah. And they’re also getting a mom who’s more confident because you have kept children alive. So, you know, there’s some give and take there. I think you should give yourself some credit for that. Or maybe you were more confident for your first child than I was for my first one. I was a mess. I thought somebody was going to definitely kidnap her because she was so cute. So I unfriended 500 Facebook friends. And then I kept very detailed accounts of every — like, how many minutes she nursed and when and stuff. And I remember bringing these precious papers to the pediatrician and my pediatrician not caring at all.

Wendy: [00:05:44] They do not care.

Michele: [00:05:46] I mean, she’s like, “Your baby gained weight. She seems clean. Good job.” Like, that’s the bar? Okay! Okay. You know?

Wendy: [00:05:58] Yeah, for sure. We could spend this whole time talking about parenting. And I’m not an expert by any means. You know, every year of our kids’ lives, Josh and I, my husband and I would say, “Yay, we did it! One year! We kept them alive for one year.” And so we’ve been saying that for 14 years. But I think you’re right about the confidence of the mom. Yeah, being a mom in my forties feels so different than being a mom in my twenties, right?

Michele: [00:06:29] Oh yeah. Yeah.

Wendy: [00:06:29] You know, even though this was not what I expected. But yeah, they’re getting to see different aspects of me that my older kids didn’t.

Michele: [00:06:38] Mm hmm. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Well, Wendy, I have been really looking forward to talking to you today, because in the short time I’ve known you, I’ve just been really impressed and encouraged by how you lead with such intentionality. You see and you care about everyone in the room, metaphorically and literally. And I’ve heard you talk about this a lot — and this is actually what I want to dig into next, but — about being a whole person and that your faith is an embodied experience; it’s not separate from all of the parts of who you are. And so, I really want to talk about all those things, but I do want to start there. Because I’ve heard you use that word “embodied,” and I’ve heard it in other places too. And I don’t think it’s just a buzzword. I think it’s actually like a really important, of the moment, “We need this message” word. And so, what does that mean to you when we talk about the embodied aspect of our faith and experience?

Wendy: [00:07:50] Yeah, I think you hit on some of those pieces, right? Like the connection. And so, like a disembodied faith would be a faith that’s disconnected, right? Your body, your lived experience is disconnected from what you’re learning. And I grew up in a church like that. I grew up in a church where you had to leave all your stuff at the door before you came in. Right? Because we just didn’t have space or language to talk about some of those things. And I think some of that is being in an immigrant church, like a first-generation immigrant church. And I was an English speaker. And so there’s language definitely at play there; there’s cultural aspects at play. But I definitely grew up in a church where you had to leave your stuff at the door and you couldn’t bring it in.

And so, when I think about embodied faith, it is that wholeness. Like, how does the Gospel and Jesus and God permeate through every piece of who you are? And our bodies are good. You know, I think I’ve been taught so much that our bodies are not good. Right? That we can’t trust ourselves. Right? I grew up thinking that. We can’t trust ourselves, we can’t — our bodies are not good, right? I also look at other people and I’m like, “Oh, they’re the image-bearers of God,” right? “These are the people who bear God’s image,” right? Until you flip it around, I’m like, “I bear the image of God within me.” How do I honor the imago dei within myself the same way that I honor the imago dei in other people? And so I think an embodied faith is one that is — it’s a lived-out faith. It’s a lived-out and actionable faith. It has implications for how we live.

You know, I am a graphic design major, background in art. And in being in ministry, I just felt like I had to separate those two, or I can do a local art ministry, right? Like, that’s about the basic extent of what I can use my artistic skills for. But what does it look like to use — bring all of who I am, those pieces, the good parts and the broken parts, in my faith lived out? So I think it is wholeness. Wholeness in living out my faith in an authentic way, one that’s rooted and grounded to the realities of our world.

And there’s just a lot happening in the world, right? Like there’s the — so in Dallas just yesterday, there — somebody went into a Korean-owned hair salon and shot three women. Three Korean women. An embodied faith is one that grieves, laments in my body for that. And Jesus, Jesus wept, right? He had an embodied — Jesus is Jesus. And so, how do we live that out? And I’m trying to reconcile those pieces. And you can’t reconcile what’s happening in the world with our faith. But how do I live in the world with all the broken pieces in a grounded and rooted way that Jesus is the driving force of who I am and what I do? And so, how do I engage in that wholly and not in a “This earth is not my home and I’m going to go to heaven, and so I don’t have to worry about it,” but that this, God is here to make all things new, and what in this is the new Earth when he comes? It’s not in this faraway place, but how do you restore the brokenness within us and in our cities?

Michele: [00:11:27] Wow. Yeah. Okay. First, I want to take a moment because I hadn’t heard that news. And that’s just so sad. And … Yeah, I know that’s been really constant for a while now in the AAPI community, just … attacks on people of Asian descent, and it feels like it’s not letting up. And I just want to recognize that is really hard and that would be really hard for you. And it’s just hard.

Wendy: [00:12:05] Yeah, thanks Michele. It definitely has been, I think, in this last year and a half even since the Atlanta shooting.

Michele: [00:12:13] Yeah.

Wendy: [00:12:14] And it didn’t start there, right? It started with some of the language around COVID that drove up the increase in anti-Asian, AAPI hate. I realized maybe six months ago, or maybe a little bit more than that, that I don’t actually feel safe anywhere as an Asian-American woman. In multiple ways, right? Health-wise, with COVID, we’ve been really careful with our family. And in the church in the West hasn’t always felt like a safe place. And then in the world and walking around my city, I don’t always — I just don’t feel safe. And so what does that look like? And bringing all that anxiety in my body. And trying not to ignore those feelings, right? I think it’s really easy for me to ignore those, the anxiety, and just go, “Okay, just push it away and it’s okay.” But what does it look like to actually go live through your emotions?

Michele: [00:13:24] Yeah.

Wendy: [00:13:25] Yeah. So I think that’s the process. Like, how do I become — how do I get to a place where I feel safe again within these experiences? And the experiences are not going to change.The stuff that’s happening in the world is not going to change. The AAPI hate is not going to change. And so how do I process and get to a place where I feel safe again even in the midst of all of that?

Michele: [00:13:53] Hmm. Is that something that — is that the question you’re asking yourself? Like, how do I do this? Or have you maybe found some pathways to let the anxiety and the fear and the things — recognize them in your body, process through to find a place of — where would you — where do you find that? And what does that look like?

Wendy: [00:14:21] Yeah, that’s what it looks like. It looks different for everybody, you know? There’s a book called Burnout. Burnout, Burnout, Burnout. And it’s really great. But the book talks about how emotions are like a tunnel — they have a beginning, middle and end — and how we often get stuck in the middle, and that’s where burnout happens. And I felt like when I heard that, I was like, “Oh, that makes 100% sense.” Like, you usually get stuck in the middle. And so, I think — they talk about closing the stress cycle, and so for me, I have to figure out, “What things make me feel safe?” And so for me personally, laughter is a huge piece of feeling safe again, right?

Michele: [00:14:56] Yeah.

Wendy: [00:14:56] And so laughter with my kids, my friends, that is a big piece of it. I think not ignoring the anxiety, paying attention to the anxiety. Where is this affecting me in my body? Like when I walk into rooms, sometimes my heart rates are speeding faster. And paying attention to why. Why am I feeling that way? What is it about this environment that makes me feel that way? So it’s the paying attention and being honest with ourselves. I think it’s easy to just push through because that’s what we do. I think especially for me as a mom, as the child of an immigrant, like we just push through.

Michele: [00:15:39] Yeah.

Wendy: [00:15:41] And it’s hard to actually stop and go, “No, my body’s just really, really tired of being resilient. My body is just really tired and scared and afraid and — ” But to name those things, I think naming those things is huge for me. And I think when you name it, it takes the shame away. It takes the anxiety away, right? And having safe spaces. And so — I talked about this last time I was on the Created For episode, but — I have a group of girlfriends that we formed in the middle of the pandemic. And some of these women, we didn’t know them prior. And it’s become this space that we process a lot of what’s happening in the world. That we could bring our whole selves without judgment. And it’s really, really been a saving grace in the last couple of years. And, you know, we recently got together and went away for the weekend. And it was probably one of the most life-giving weekends I’ve had in a long time because there was just zero expectation. Like, I didn’t have — I could show up as myself, not as a mom, not as a wife, not as a full-time ministry worker, but as Wendy. Like, what does Wendy want and how does Wendy want to shape her day? And so, I felt like that was a really big gift. But having safe spaces to have those conversations, to name the anxiety, I think is a big piece. It takes a lot of power out of it.

Michele: [00:17:09] Yeah. And that is — I like that you just ended that, you said, “That takes the power out of it,” out of the shame and stuff, and there’s such then a different kind of power you find there. Like the power of healing and community and — it’s like a really good exchange to find a way to set that shame aside and to not let it be what rules our heart and our mind. I listen to a podcast with the authors of that book you mentioned, Burnout. And when I was listening to it, I remember thinking how I do get stuck in the middle, and then there are some tunnels I’ve just avoided going down at all. Or it seems like if I go down that tunnel, there’s annihilation or some sort of, “You can’t do that.” But I have been trying to let emotions and let what my body tells me just be. Like they’re a gift. They help me know when something is wrong and when something needs to be attended to. It’s a very — it’s a scary journey. But I’ve been trying to go down that, too.

Wendy: [00:18:33] Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think that’s — it’s so much easier to tell other people to be whole.

Michele: [00:18:39] Yeah.

Wendy: [00:18:39] It’s much easier to be like, “Yes, you need this, and I’m with you. I walk alongside you.” But when it comes to myself, I’m like, “I don’t want to walk through certain tunnels.” For sure. Because it feels way harder to walk through some of those tunnels, you know? And I don’t know how barometers work.

Michele: [00:19:04] They measure.

Wendy: [00:19:05] They measure. And I feel like those anxiety pieces, those like resistance, those fears, I think those emotions that come up, they’re kind of like barometers, if I knew how it worked, that reveal there’s something much bigger happening underneath the surface. And so how do we pay attention to what’s happening under the surface? Because it will always come back. I think about my kids and wanting to stop some of the intergenerational harm that’s happened. And how do I do that? I can’t do that unless I’m willing to do the work of processing some of the traumas maybe in my past or experiences I’ve had.

You know, I’m just so convinced that the only way through is to go through. But I am conflict-averse, I’m harmony, I don’t want to go through it. And I often find myself saying that to God. I’m like, “God, I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to walk through this.” But God has been faithful in my life. My entire life, even before I knew him. Even before I knew God. So I think for me this season has felt like a season of … an invitation to trust. Right? To trust that God is good. Like, He is not out to annihilate me. He’s not going to purposely set me up. Right? Like, that’s not who God is. But I think I feel that sometimes, like, “If I do this, I’m just going to — He’s just going to drop me.”

Michele: [00:20:47] Yeah.

Wendy: [00:20:48] And that’s not true. That’s not true.

Michele: [00:20:50] It’s not true. That’s not the good news of the Bible at all.

Wendy: [00:20:56] Right.

Michele: [00:21:00] I think it’s more of one of the messages we learn in the fallen, broken world that then, it is so shocking when God responds differently. And then as even people of faith, we haven’t historically — I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m trying to think of, like, a time in history where it seemed like people of faith did that as well as — no, we did not do that as well as God. We’re not there. We haven’t — there actually isn’t a golden age where the church has arrived. We haven’t seen it before, and I’m not going to hold my breath for it, though I want to grow, right?

Wendy: [00:21:44] Yeah, for sure.

Michele: [00:21:46] Okay. So you’ve mentioned a couple of things that I want to hear some more about, and I kind of think they’re related. So you had mentioned earlier about growing up in a place where you felt like you had to put some of the stuff at the door. Right? And then we have talked more about your journey to feel and to know yourself and to not be afraid of pain, of hard things. And then you’ve also named bringing that into parenthood a little bit. And I also know that you — I think that there’s some triangulation here just from some other conversations I’ve had with you, where I know that you’re someone who really is thinking about the person in the back of the room and knowing them and maybe helping name who they are in their embodied experience. So I kind of just want to hear more, and I think this is all kind of connected in your mind, right? And could you tell me more about that?

Wendy: [00:22:51] Yeah, I think, you know, as I’ve been on this journey in the last couple of years to figure out, “What is it Wendy wants?” Like what do I want? And I think that has been the hardest question to answer. Because I think as a child of immigrants, we … our parents have sacrificed everything for us. My dad was a teacher and well-respected in the community. But we moved to America, and he worked in a restaurant. Right? Because it didn’t translate, because he didn’t speak English. And so —

Michele: [00:23:25] Yeah.

Wendy: [00:23:25] I think about the sacrifices my parents made for us, for me, my sister, for all of us to live a life that’s different than the one that they had. There’s not a lot of room to go, “Okay, what is it that I want?” Because it feels incredibly selfish to answer that question. Right? Because as communal beings, I want to honor my parents in the way that they have sacrificed for us. Right? And so I think — I feel like Jesus asked that question, “What is it that you want?” to that man who needed healing. Jesus says, “What is it that you want?” And he’s like, “I just want to be healed. Can’t you see what I need?” But there’s power in naming it.

Michele: [00:24:14] Yeah.

Wendy: [00:24:14] Right? And so I think I’ve been — that’s part of that journey to feel. For me, feeling — I feel pretty easily. I feel big feelings; I’m an enneagram 4. But, “How do I make sense of those feelings?” is a whole different question. Right? And I think there’s — this is like the tunnel thing you’re talking about, like there’s tunnels of not wanting to go down, especially around childhood. Like I love my parents, and they have sacrificed everything for me, and they’ve been watching the four — the little babies this last two years. And we just — our lives would not be — we can’t do what we do without their help. Right?

Michele: [00:24:57] Yeah.

Wendy: [00:24:58] But, knowing that they did the best that they could with what they had, there’s a framework, a language that they don’t have around mental health, around some of the emotional language, because they had to just get through, right? They didn’t have the privilege to go, “How am I feeling?” because they just had to get through. I think about that as a mom now with little kids: could I move to a country where I don’t speak the language, I’ve never been, and start over? Like, what would that be like for me? And so that’s what they did. That’s what they did. They didn’t have the privilege to go, “What is it I want to do?” Or, “What is it I want?” And so I think they didn’t have language for that. And therefore, for me, that was a huge tension, I think, that I just kept running into. You know, as an adult, I understand that. But as a 13-year-old kid, as a 14-year-old, I didn’t understand why they didn’t see me. Why they didn’t — yeah, like, why they couldn’t see me or understand me.

And so I think for me, my journey into parenthood and my kids, like — actually seeing my kids with my parents is really redeeming, right? My mom, she just cleaned all the time. That’s what she did. Probably her anxieties must be part of that. But it never felt like she — I don’t remember her — them playing with us. I don’t remember my mom playing with us. I don’t remember any of that. She was just too busy being anxious, working and cleaning. But then I had kids, and I saw my mom, like, singing with them, right? And I’m like, “Mom sings?” And she drew a picture of a boat, and me and my sister were like, “Mom draws?” Like we just — we don’t have any of that, you know? And it’s been actually really redeeming to see that, and see the way that they just love on these — my kids, the way that my parents love them. That’s the same love that they had for me, you know, growing up, that same adoration, that same — and my 14-year-old, when he was like seven he asked me one time, he’s like, “Do you think it’s weird — ?” So we call it “Laolao, Laoye,” that’s “Grandpa, Grandma — ” He’s like, “Do you think it’s weird that Laolao, Laoye loves us so much? Like, why they’re so nice to us?” I’m like, “Well, they’re your grandparents. They love you,of course they do.” And he’s like, “But isn’t it weird that they’re so nice to me?” I’m like, “All right, I don’t know why you’re so suspicious at seven, but…”

Michele: [00:27:31] That’s interesting.

Wendy: [00:27:32] Even they could feel that. He can feel like, “Oh, this is an extraordinary kindness and love towards them.” Right? And that’s how my parents do it. That’s how they show love. And, you know, I remember growing up one time, and — I grew up in the era of — I was eight years old when I moved to America. I grew up in this Eastern culture, but I also had Full House playing in the TV. Right? Where every conflict got handled in 30 minutes, you talked about it, you hugged it out, there’s that music playing in the background. And then my reality, my life, there’s no music.

Michele: [00:28:08] There’s no music.

Wendy: [00:28:11] When you’re like, “Oh, we’re about to end this conflict.” You know, there’s no hugs, there’s no conversation. It’s just a, “Okay, it happened. Let’s ignore it. Let’s move on.” Right?

Michele: [00:28:21] Yeah.

Wendy: [00:28:22] And I think living in that tension, I remember telling my mom one time, I was like, “Mom, it doesn’t feel like you love us. I don’t feel love.” And as an adult, I can imagine what a slap in the face that must have been for her. It doesn’t change the fact that at 13 I didn’t feel that, right? But for someone to have sacrificed everything for me.

Michele: [00:28:46] Yeah.

Wendy: [00:28:46] To hear that back … like I would be so hurt by that. And so this is where that generational stuff comes through in that we don’t have the language for it. And so when I see my kids, I don’t want to repeat those things for them. I think that’s what we all — as parents, we just want to do better for our kids. Right? And so I want to be committed to the work of walking through those tunnels that I don’t want to walk through because I want to break this generational shame, generational anxiety, generational thing that happens in my family because I want to do better by them. Right? And it’s not a means to an end. I think even as an embodied soul, it’s important for us, even without the result of doing it for somebody else, to be whole. Right? To be fully present, not at conflict with ourself. When I think about wholeness, that’s what I think about. That you show up with your whole self and you’re not in conflict. Right? So anyways, I talked a lot. That’s a lot of circling. That’s a little bit of how I think about parenting and even this emotional journey of how I was raised and…

Michele: [00:30:01] Yeah.

Wendy: [00:30:02] Yeah.

Michele: [00:30:04] I really appreciate all that, Wendy. And I hear you, I think, articulate really well having empathy for your mom, for your dad, and for yourself, for your 13-year-old self, for your current self. That shows a lot of thoughtfulness and maturity, and I find that really significant and encouraging.

I want to click on something you said, too, because you talked about having access or language to mental health resources. And that was an epiphany for me recently about my own family that I can’t — I need to see them through the lens of what was even available. And even if they had some concept of depression — which was not talked about, ironically, in the Great Depression at all, for example, but — would they even, in a small town, have people who could help walk them through that, even if they were able to recognize this pattern or this sadness or this difficulty is a problem? Yeah, so that has also helped me to have more grace for them, to have more empathy, and to also be so thankful that I live in a different time. And I think that’s what you’re also talking about too. Like you’re now living in a time where you are taking stock of the collective experiences you have and the opportunities and the privileges you have intersecting in a way that you can hold those tensions. Yeah? I mean, that’s really deep. That’s really deep stuff.

Wendy: [00:31:55] You put it way better than the way that I could.

Michele: [00:31:58] I’m just taking notes on what you’re saying.

Wendy: [00:32:01] I think it is the — I think especially as children of immigrants, the privileges that we have … They are privileges, right? They are privileges. But how do we think about them as actually — it’s been a gift. It’s like a gift to steward. How do we steward this gift that we are able to have these mental health conversations? How do we … right? Because our parents, the previous generations, maybe haven’t had that. And so — but we are in a place that we can. And so how do we live in light of that? Right?

Michele: [00:32:42] Yeah, absolutely. Well, I want to pivot just a little. One of the things that you have led out in is the actual creation of what we’re doing here, Created For. And I would love to hear from you more about this space and why are we here? Why are we getting to have these fun conversations? I’m enjoying it, but tell me more of the origin.

Wendy: [00:33:14] Yeah. So, I work for a pretty large — we both work for a pretty large evangelical organization. And we do a lot of work with the influentials, right? The influencers of the world. It’s the strategy behind, “Reach the leaders today, you’ll reach the leaders tomorrow.” And I think as someone who sees kind of the unseen, as someone who sees everyone in the room, sometimes that’s really hard for me. Like, yeah, I get the strategy in it, but how do we see everyone? And so I think as we thought about creating a space to have this dialogue, to have these conversations, to make this conversation accessible — like I think sometimes a lot of the conversations on calling and — I mean, there’s a lot of really great training out there and development and resources, but a lot of them are not accessible because they’re either at a conference you have to go to, they’re either a monthly payment that you have to do. Like, there’s not — we wanted to make our information accessible and easy for people to digest.

And so this came out in the middle of the pandemic, right? A year into the pandemic, where we’re like, “What is my calling now? I knew what it was like before the pandemic, but what do I do now? You know, what is — how does my faith … How do I embody my faith now?” And so Created For really came out of that, the desire for us to actually help people that we haven’t been able to resource. Not so that they can do it better with us, but how do we support what God is doing in their lives, in their hearts, in the cities, and how do we come alongside that and support that? And so, you know, Created For is the one-night event, it’s the podcast, but this is so much more than that. Our dream for Created For is that really it could be a place to resource people with what they need. And so with that, we’ve done a lot of focus groups, we’ve done surveys. We’re constantly trying to have this dialogue of people. I feel like organizationally and oftentimes just even in the corporate world, we often design things and we say, “Hey, this is for you,” without actually asking the people of, like, “Is this what you want?”

Michele: [00:35:34] Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Wendy: [00:35:35] You know, and I do that with my kids, I’m like, “Hey, this is for you,” and they’re like, “I don’t want that,” you know? And so, I think for us and with Created For it’s shifting and going, “Okay, how do we actually give people what they want and what they need?” And we need to learn that first before we can start. And so, we’re just trying to with Created For and being able to build that, so that people — we talk about Created For so that we know that we can find our place in God’s story, so that every single person can find a place in God’s story. But it’s to know who God has made you to be and how you’re supposed to live that out. And that’s unique, and that’s different for each person.

Michele: [00:36:16] Gosh, that is so inspiring. And I want to say — the thought I had was, I think you were on to some sort of almost like a prophetic wavelength of the Spirit moving for this to be, because what have we seen now since the pandemic? The Great Resignation, The Great — you know, like I think the question of now is, “In light of what’s important, what I’ve discovered is important now, and who I am and what I discovered about that now, what am I created for? What is my calling? Who am I, and what am I going to do?” Even for those of us who, you know, we’re a couple decades into a career, I’m asking myself that question every day, Wendy. “What am I doing with my life?”

Wendy: [00:37:08] Join the club!

Michele: [00:37:11] Okay. So, final question. We do ask this to everyone because it’s important, and it’s, I think, a great moment. But for all of us, Wendy, all of us who are asking this question of who we are and what are we doing, what is an invitation that you would like to offer to us listening right now to this conversation and taking what can we do for our next step in discovering more of who God created us to be? What might you invite us to do?

Wendy: [00:37:43] Yeah, I think the invitation I have for people is the invitation I have for myself right now, is the finding, “What is the thing that brings me joy and delight?” Because I think that gives us a step and a peek into who we were created for and what we were created for. And we don’t have to always — we don’t have to understand — you know, my kids love — the 14-years-old loves them. So at one point, Pokémon was huge. He knew every single Pokémon, every single word, every single name. And there’s so many. They started with, like, 160, and now there’s like so many.

Michele: [00:38:20] No, there’s so many. Yeah.

Wendy: [00:38:22] So many! And we keep buying the updated version of the new books. I’m like, “This is not comprehensive because they’re going to come up with new ones.” At some point they have to run out of Pokémons, right? But the delight he has in those, the delight he has in those characters where he’s like, “Mom, listen, Mom, can I show you this? Mom, can I show — ?” Like, I don’t care, but I see the delight he has in that. And I wonder if God looks at us that way, right? I don’t know if he cares about certain little things in our lives and what we — but the delight we find in those — and I think that gives a peek into some of the things that we’re meant to do. And so I’m exploring that right now. I’m exploring without judgment, without my leadership hat,  my anything, just kind of reconnecting with who I am. At the core of who I am, what do I love? What makes me laugh, what makes me delight, and can I do more of that?

Michele: [00:39:27] Wendy Chen just challenged us to consider how our faith is connected to our lived experience and how we can be whole people who live in this world bearing the image of God, honoring the image of God that we have within ourselves, and honoring it in other people. In light of all that is complicated and difficult and painful in our world today, I want to leave you with that question: what can you do today to honor the imago dei within yourself and within others? Created For is hosted and produced by Cru. If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe, rate or review it wherever you listen. For more resources to continue your journey to living out your impact, check out the show notes on our website, and follow us on Instagram @_createdfor. Thanks for listening!

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