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Can I Laugh On Your Shoulder?

Jul 5, 2023

My guest this week is Curtis Chang, a theologian, consulting faculty member at Duke Divinity School and a Senior Fellow at Fuller Theological Seminary. His ministry experience includes serving as a senior pastor of an Evangelical Covenant Church in California, a campus minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and engaging in racial reconciliation work in Soweto, South Africa.

Curtis is the founding Executive Director of Redeeming Babel, a nonprofit that helps Christians engage the wider world. He also hosts the Good Faith podcast where he discusses how Christian faith intersects with culture, law, and politics.

His latest book, The Anxiety Opportunity: How Worry Is the Doorway to Your Best Self, was released in May.

3:26 – Curtis 101

  • Curtis has always stood at the intersection between the world of secular institutions and work and Christian faith.
  • He wrote a book about anxiety because it is a pervasive pandemic, and Christianity has something to say about it.

7:49 – Shame of anxiety

  • In the Christian faith, there’s a tremendous amount of shame around anxiety. Some see it as a flaw, lack of faith or sin.
  • Curtis has suffered from anxiety for his much of his life. He once had a catastrophic breakdown and had trouble sleeping.
  • Anxiety is the most profound opportunity for spiritual growth we may have.

12:44 – Anxiety spectrum

  • We all exist somewhere on the anxiety spectrum.
  • There’s a difference between anxiety and anxiety disorder.
  • Anxiety is the fear of loss. An anxiety disorder is when our response to anxiety is dysfunctional and unhealthy.

19:38 – Avoiding the unavoidable

  • Many Christians fall into the trap of thinking that bad things won’t happen to them because they are believers.
  • But Christians experience loss, too. God did not let you down if you experience a loss.
  • You can’t avoid the unavoidable.

23:43 – How to handle loss

  • The real promise of the gospel is not loss avoidance, but loss restoration.
  • You have to go through loss to get to future restoration.

25:22 – Anxious children

  • Your kid’s anxiety can make you anxious.
  • Curtis has two daughters. He has tried to jump in and make their anxiety go away. But that makes them more anxious.
  • Instead, he holds their loss and empathizes with them.

35:40 – Anxiety and politics

  • Why talk about anxiety and politics? Because you can’t respond to what’s happening with politics without acknowledging the pervasive anxiety around it.
  • Politics can be a toxic drug.

48:32 – Advice about anxiety

  • If you want to lessen anxiety, get curious about what you’re feeling and experiencing.


The best way to understand me is, I’m someone who has always stood at the intersection between the world of secular institutions and work and the Christian faith.

There is a pervasive and growing pandemic – and it is a mental health pandemic – of anxiety. The Christian faith has something really helpful to say.

There’s a tremendous amount of shame around anxiety.

I write as somebody who knows of the painful reality of anxiety.

Anxiety is actually the most profound opportunity for spiritual growth we may have.