Clutching onto Faith in the Wilderness Moments: Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart

Episode 06

“If my faith cannot offer me something in the wilderness moments, it isn’t worth having,” says Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart. And as we explore the silver linings of this turbulent year, Rev. Naomi’s wisdom is just what we need as we turn our thoughts to how our faith has held us up, stretched our empathy, and asked us to hold suffering and joy with both hands. As Philadelphia’s Director of the Mayor’s Office of Faith-Based and Interfaith Affairs, Rev. Naomi has spent the year trying to bring faith communities together with the goal of healing a hurting city. And for those who may not be able to see a way forward, Rev. Naomi reminds us that God is still right there, never leaving us alone. Because as she says, “we are always becoming,” meaning that even through the impossible, good can be brought out of any story—including the ones we never asked for. 

Episode Transcript

Hey everybody. Jen Hatmaker here, your host at the, For the Love Podcast. Welcome to the show. 

We are in a series right now that I have loved so much. It’s been nurturing to me, nourishing to me and to you, you’ve let me know. It’s called For the Love of Small Wins. I think you can kind of understand why we wanted to steer the ship into some hope and nurture after this year. We’re rounding the bend here to the final stretch of 2020. We’re coming up on the holiday season. But if you’re anything like me, our hearts are probably a little bit heavier this year, our hands maybe a little slower to deck the halls. 

We’ve missed each other, right? We’ve missed the way things used to be. We’ve missed having the privilege of the ease kind of in which we used to live in the world. We’ve missed the promise of meeting new people, going to new places. We’ve just felt a lot of loss this year. I am first in line. I am first in line in raising my hand saying this year has included so much suffering and struggle. And yet, I don’t think it’ll always be this way. 

I know right now I’m thinking about advent season. It’s got me thinking about Mary and Joseph, and how they were forced to flee in the middle of the night and go to Egypt, I mean, Egypt, guys, with their toddler just to keep him safe. Do you remember that? After the wise men visit Jesus, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Hey, get out of here. Herod’s after you.” And so literally wakes up Mary and they go to Egypt overnight. It’s just a little footnote in the Bible, barely, but it’s something I think maybe we can relate to right now in a new way. This little family left everything and everyone they knew just to keep themselves safe. They had no idea how long they’d be hiding out for safety. They had no idea what to pack or how long it was supposed to last. They’re in a new place to live, finding a new way to get food and water and sustenance for themselves. 

I’m starting to imagine their happiness when they learned they could finally go back home, right? I’m thinking about Mary when she finally saw a familiar face in town, or just the joy when she got to return to a routine, to her community, to her people.

I know that right now our spiritual small wins is maybe a hard topic to think about, because we’re tired, and we’re not sure when things are going to go back or return. I wonder if we can just hold all that gently, whatever we have learned, whatever we have lost, whatever we are still afraid of, whatever we are hopeful for, into our conversation today, because well, first of all, let me tell you right out of the gate, I cried my eyes out in the middle of this interview today. I had to get the bottom of my shirt and wipe my nose and my face off.

We have a really special guest today. Her name is Reverend Naomi Washington-Leapheart, and she is nothing short of our pastor today. She is pastoring us. She is our spiritual guide on this podcast today. 

Reverend Naomi, she amplifies and celebrates religious life in Philadelphia. That’s where she lives. She’s the Director of the Mayor’s office of Faith-Based and Interfaith Affairs in Philadelphia. She’s also an adjunct professor of theology at Villanova. In the past, she has also served as the faith work director for the National LGBTQ Task Force, which is actually the country’s oldest national LGBTQ justice and equality group. Pretty incredible. Reverend Naomi is obviously an ordained minister. She was also recently named an LGBTQ faith leader to watch in 2019 by the Center for American Progress, and one of The Root 100. She is an outstanding faith leader, I mean, outstanding. I’m so glad she’s on the show today. She is full of… I could cry right now just thinking about it again, but just wisdom and generosity.

I don’t even know who’s going to listen today, but if I’m the only person who got to listen to this today, that was enough for me. She really served me today, ministered to me. I think this is going to be hopeful for you. I think you’re going to find so much love and grace in this conversation. It’s just so many must have suffered this year, and faith and Jesus and love, it’s everything we need it to be. It really is. And putting ourselves under leaders like Reverend Naomi, it’s wise.

So I’m so happy to have her pastor us today, and I’m so glad that she’s here. I’m so glad to introduce her to so many of you. You’re going to love her. With that, here’s my incredible conversation with the absolutely wonderful Reverend Naomi Washington-Leapheart. 


Books & Resources Mentioned in This Episode



Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler


Stay Connected with Jen Hatmaker:



Thanks for listening to the For the Love Podcast!

XO – Team Jen

connect with rev. naomi washington-leapheart:


  • Check out all the amazing shoes—and bags!—available right now at
  • Don’t miss special holiday pricing on truly meaningful gifts during the Holiday Sale! Head to
  • thistle-farms Find beautiful self-care gifts that are giving back! Use code FORTHELOVE to get 15% off the whole shop at
  • Take care of your mental health through the holidays—get 10% off your first month at
Shop Jen's Faves

From exclusive, limited-edition items to my must-haves, check out all my latest faves.


Take a peek around

If you’re not sure where to begin, I got you, friend. I’m always bringing you something new to enjoy.

Read More About Jen