Holy mischief and disruptions of kindness: Compass episode 65

Shannon Karafanda inspires some holy mischief on the Compass Podcast
Shannon Karafanda inspires some holy mischief on the Compass Podcast

Reverend Shannon Karafanda shares #HolyMischief, a movement inspiring acts of disruption based in love.

It seems that the more kindness we show towards others, the more connected we feel towards them. So when we get stuck in cycles of negativity, or feeling like the world is against us, or feeling like everyone around us is getting on our last nerve, we’re well served by serving somebody else through an act of kindness.

 

Listen and subscribe: Apple Podcasts / Amazon / Google / Spotify

Shannon is a professional Holy Mischief Maker helping others to engage in the mysterious disruption of love in action. She is an Executive Pastor at Peachtree United Methodist Church in Georgia and has a doctoral degree in transformational leadership.

Learn more about the #HolyMischief movement at Shannon's web site. Or get started creating some holy mischief with the Facebook community!

 

 

Transcript

Ryan Dunn:

This the compass podcast. We're disrupting our every day with glimpses of the divine. We're talking kindness and getting mischievous for good in this episode of compass is we are joined by Reverend Shannon Karafanda.

There's a lot of existing research pointing out the ways in which doing an act of kindness, disrupts our own negative thought patterns. And it seems that the more kindness we showed towards others, the more connected we feel towards them. So when we get stuck in cycles of negativity or feeling like the world is against us, or feeling like everyone around us is getting on our last nerve we're well-served by serving somebody else through an act of kindness.

Shannon, Karafanda has turned this into a movement, a movement marked by the hashtag holy mischief. She's going to tell us about this movement about how it came about and how it serves as a disruption right now. My name is Ryan Dunn. Hey, it's summertime as we're recording this, which is vacation season and Pierce Drake is taking advantage of that right now. So you're stuck with just me as host, but the good news is, is that Shannon Karafanda is taking over to share some heartwarming glimpses of holy mischief. So let's meet the Reverend,

Okay. Shannon Karafanda what is holy mischief? Like what do you mean when you put those two seemingly diverse words together?

Shannon Karafanda:

Yeah. And people, when they hear it, they want to know what it is and they want to do it before they really actually even know what it is. I think that there is something about, uh, being holy, but also mischievous that sort of breaks that pattern of everyday life. And people want to do random acts of kindness that surprise people and touch hearts and touch lives. Uh, it sort of came about in a very, uh, long drawn out way. Um, mostly because it takes a long time for me to actually accept what God is trying to tell me. And it just took several years for it to kind of come to where it is today. But several years ago, right after I had graduated seminary, I was starting a new church with someone. He was the lead pastor. I was the associate pastor and the whole vision behind that church was it, you wanted to do random acts of kindness in the community.

You just wanted to let people know that they're loved. There's no strings, there's no, uh, expectation that you're going to come to church. We just want you to know that you're loved. And we wanted our people to get in that practice of doing that because it's not about numbers, it's about lives and hearts. And so we would go out in the community and give out free waters or flowers to people or buy people's gas. Got a totally different reactions, no matter what we did. And it was really interesting to process that. And we really enjoyed that piece of it. Uh, unfortunately about a week before we were to launch our first public worship service, Alan passed away suddenly, and it felt like he was one of my very best friends and it felt like my world was turned upside down. And I wondered what was going to happen to this vision.

Uh, we continued on for a little bit, 2008 came economy went, uh, horribly wrong, uh, that church wasn't able to survive on its own. It had morphed into something different, still beautiful, but different at that time, I went on to do different things in ministry, but I could let go of that idea that people really needed to know that they're loved because they don't always know that I was working at a church and someone sent me an email and said, Hey, I'm trying to get the mischief makers of the conference together to do some mission work. Well, that's what he said was I want to get some holy mischief makers together. So I just, it stuck that phrase, holy mischief stuck. And so anytime I did some sort of random act of kindness or something that was above and beyond showing someone that they were loved, I would start to use the hashtag holy mischief and it started to catch on and gain some momentum. And today we have gotten a lot of different people using that hashtag and making this a part of their everyday lives.

Ryan Dunn:

Okay. So you said that sometimes it takes you a little while, even years to grab onto the vision that God has for you. So in a way that's mischief on its own, right? Like we create our own mischief in that case with some negative connotations, what are some of the thoughts that are running through your head when you're being mischievous in that negative way and kind of fighting against what God has put before you,

Shannon Karafanda:

I I'm a planner. I like to have the whole plan and sometimes God only gives me one step. And so when God only gives me one step, I think, well, that must not be it. Cause I need the whole plan. And so I'll fight that one step, not knowing why it's supposed to happen. For instance, when people began to know that I was known for messed up, um, I thought that that was just sort of a thing. It was a little catch phrase. It was just a little something that I was doing, but I didn't really think I was supposed to do anything with it. And then I was talking to one of my supervisors and I said, I feel like I'm being called to something new and innovative, but I'm not called to start a new church again, I'm not, I've done that. Um, and she said, well, you could start a movement.

Shannon Karafanda:

And I said, no, no, I don't. The movements are, um, either very cult-like or they're really big things like social justice movements where there's a lot of people involved and there's a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. And that that's, that's a lot, I'm not called to do that. So I resisted for, for a few months for that one. And then at one point I was talking to someone else who said, well, you know, that your denomination was started as a movement. In fact, your entire religion was started as a movement. They were followers of the way it's okay. As long as the movement is pointing to God and not pointing to something else. And so I said, okay, now I can do that. What's my first step. And then when I prayed about what that first step was, I was like, okay, I'm going to start a Facebook group. And let's just see where it goes.

Ryan Dunn:

As you engage in holy mischief. Now, in the positive sense, is that something that you plan for, or are you more responsive and just looking for opportunities or, or meeting opportunities as they come up to create some holy mischief?

Shannon Karafanda:

It's kind of both. And, um, I try, I have a new planner that I just got from plum paper. I don't get any kickback for saying that, but I was able to, it's a customizable one. So every day I put in what is my holy mischief for today. Um, and so I plan for something and sometimes, um, I'll just say, you know, I want to just make a connection with somebody. So maybe it's, I just look someone in the eye and smile, maybe I give someone a hug. It really can be that simple or it could be, Hey, school is starting. So how can we show love to a school or the teachers or the school nurse or someone that really needs to know they've got this for this year. Um, and so I I'm right now, since we're about to hit back to school in the north Georgia area, I've started planning, Hey, here's some back to school things that we can do, um, to really let students and teachers and parents all know that they're doing work, that they're truly called to do. And that they're loved.

Ryan Dunn:

Yeah. I've been seeing some of the videos that you post on tic-tac and you've been on a kick where you kind of surprise people by telling them that you love them. There's not context for us, the viewer on it. Are those folks that, you know, are you just kind of randomly finding folks just to say, Hey,

Shannon Karafanda:

Well, right now I'm just finding folks that I know mostly because I have a 13 year old daughter at home who is a little embarrassed that I'm on 16th, follow you. Um, she does follow me to make sure I don't post videos of her. Yeah. I have to get permission for any social media posts. That includes any of my kids at this point. Um, and I am teachable. I actually do follow that, but I, I tell them that that rule goes out the window once I have grandkids, but I have the full, full rights to post any grandkid picture at that point. Hopefully that's a few years away.

Ryan Dunn:

So did you see any kind of, uh, maybe scriptural inspiration for some of your actions and holy movement?

Shannon Karafanda:

Yeah. There's, I mean, there's several, I mean, treat people the way that you want to be treated, I think is, is really kind of first and foremost to that, you know, there are so many different scriptures about abundant and everlasting steadfast love that. I think, I don't think we live into abundant love as much as we should. And I think that holy mischief can push us into not just defining love as relational, but also as something that's active and something that you choose to do.

Ryan Dunn:

So bringing it back to today, what are a couple of your favorite examples of holy mischief that you've seen either people do through the Facebook page or just random in general,

Shannon Karafanda:

There's are several. And a lot of them came out during the pandemic shutdown when people were looking for ways to connect, but didn't really know how to do that safely. I have one friend who has a, someone who lives in her neighborhood. Who's a shut-in who can't get out much. And so she put together a scrapbook of positive, inspirational sayings, and it's beautiful. It has beautiful pictures in it. Some of it's handwritten, some of it's typed out and some pretty fonts and she, she gave it to her just to help her lift her spirits. And I just thought that was beautiful. It actually takes some time there's an investment there, but it's also pretty simple. Um, I thought that was beautiful. Some of the ones that I can't even take credit for are when, um, uh, a Starbucks drive-through line, someone pays it backward, they'll pay for the car behind them, and that will go on for hours and hours and hours. And I think that's just a beautiful thing when that happens. And usually when it stops it's because that person just is not able to, like, they were just, they're a teenager and they've only got this amount of money or they're, you know, they're down on their luck, but just wanting to treat themselves to a nice coffee that day. Uh, those types of things I think are really beautiful just to see how it multiplies. How

Ryan Dunn:

Has this movement and your personal involvement with it, or at least your personal involvement in doing acts of holy mischief,

Shannon Karafanda:

How's it changed you? I'm more, self-aware about the things I do each day because people know me for this. And so they they're, they're watching me and they probably were watching before, and I just wasn't quite as aware, but I'm definitely aware of, of how people see me. And I'm also aware that people have this deep need to be seen. And I think that holy mischief is one of those ways that we can truly see someone and let them know that you, or create a brick OD that God knows you and calls your name and you are a beautiful person worthy to be loved. How

Ryan Dunn:

So can you give some examples of ways that it's really helped other people feel seen or feel recognized?

Shannon Karafanda:

So recently I made some holy Mister shirts and, um, my neighbor saw one. I really liked that. Um, and I said, well, you know, I'll leave one of my mailbox. Instead of leaving one in my mailbox, I left the shirt in a bag with all sorts of things that would be fun for her kids. Um, and then there was a book because I knew she was struggling with not just not really her faith. She still had really strong faith, but she was struggling with the role of women in faith. And, um, she had mentioned that she'd seen this book that I had by Sarah Bessey and she said, I, that speaks to me. You know, we, we, I don't think we would read that in my church. So I put the book in there and she was like, oh, you listened, you, you heard me, you knew what I was struggling with. And you did something small to, I mean, I couldn't fix it for her, but I can maybe give her a tool to help her along in that journey.

Ryan Dunn:

So it has this whole movement and your participation in it helped you become more aware of the needs of others. Has it made you a little bit more compassionate? Do you think

Shannon Karafanda:

It was, it's funny, you know, when we do spiritual gifts, assessments, compassion is really low on that. I really find funny. Um, but I'm I being more self-aware that that is a need for people and they need to be seen, I think has brought that out in me a good bit. And, um, I'm, I'm always kind of thinking like, how, how can I connect with this person? How can we reconcile? Or how can we be one with Christ? It's something

Ryan Dunn:

That you always feel like doing now, or are there days where you have this goal ahead of you to do an act of holy mischief, but you just don't want to, how do

Shannon Karafanda:

You deal with that? Yeah, there's definitely those days. Yeah. Um, in fact, I realized either while fireworks were going on, on July 4th and I was at a neighbor's house watching them, I was like, I could have done so much on 4th of July. Like there were things popping in my head as the fireworks are going off. Like there's different places that we have a parade that's local. I could have been there giving some things out. Um, I, you know, I could have brought something special or different to my neighbor's party. Um, instead I just brought it back about Ford and then that sort of guilt started to set in and I realized it's a holiday and I'm entitled to be able to take one to note those down for next year. And if I, you know, if I have the bandwidth to do it, that's fine. I, I have become much more aware of how important taking a Sabbath is or a day of rest. And I have started to see that taking a Sabbath is actually an act of holy mischief. The world doesn't want us to take a Sabbath. Doesn't want us to take a day off and breathe and just stop and be still. So it's an act of holy mischief that I think we really should partake in.

Ryan Dunn:

Yeah. We've been talking about disruptions on this podcast and certainly there's a disruption in actively seeking to randomly do kindness for others, but it can be a crazy disruption to also take a break is

Shannon Karafanda:

Yeah. And it's amazing how much more you can do when you actually take a break and people just don't realize that that once you are able to recharge, you can really do a lot more after that.

Ryan Dunn:

Yeah. I S I think somebody needed to hear that today. Like, oh, we mischief is just going to be to take it easy for a little bit. It's okay.

Shannon Karafanda:

Okay. Cause I do have a few days off next week thinking, well, Hey, well, my vacation, I could brainstorm all of these ideas and I know that's not what vacation is. So yeah, it was probably me that needed to hear that. Right.

Ryan Dunn:

It's funny how that often happens. Isn't it? Do you find that as you're doing these acts of holy mischief, that oftentimes maybe the biggest beneficiary is yourself?

Shannon Karafanda:

I do think that, um, you know, one of the ways that I think holy mischief manifests is as a means of grace or means of grace become an active, holy mess, Jeff. And, um, last year I live in, in the Atlanta area. And, um, last year there were several demonstrations about racial reconciliation and, um, I was convicted to participate. I felt like it was an act of holy mischief. Um, but I didn't lead any of that. I just, I just needed to, to be in support of my, that were hurting during that time and our church, um, not our individual church, but the churches of the north Georgia area put on a walk where they went through the different places in Atlanta stopped, told a little bit of the history, um, read some scripture and prayed. And so I was able to stream that on the holy mischief group. And it was really more, I mean, I, I wanted people to experience that, but I really, I needed to hear that I needed to hear that there's work to do there. That is really transformative as well. You mentioned

Ryan Dunn:

Means a grace let's get into the Methodist weeds here. W what, uh, what does that term now is holy mischief? It means of grace

Shannon Karafanda:

Means of grace. These are ways that you experienced the grace of God, and they kind of fall into two categories. There are acts of piety, things that are just between you and God. And then there are acts of mercy things that help you express to other people that God loves them, that you love them. So I feel like holy mischief kind of falls in both camps. It's we like to, especially me, I'm going to say me. I like to put things in categories. So to me means of grace being in those two categories and a list of ones that are individual and ones that are more public in done in community. That makes sense in my brain. But reality is that means a grace or a little bit more fluid than that. They go back and forth between piety and mercy. You have to have one to have the other, and they go back and forth and back and forth. And I think holy mischief is very similar. I think prayer can be an act of holy mischief. If it's disrupting you, if it's, um, pointing you to something that you're going to do later, an act of mercy, there's just any, you know, any time I, I do an act, I want them to feel the love of God, but I also do as well. Uh, there's a lot of science about altruism, about being nice to people and giving and how it actually benefits the one that's doing the giving. Um, as well as the one receiving

Ryan Dunn:

Holy mischief started as a bit of a local movement, but it's taken a Facebook. You have an active Facebook group, where all, do you see people in that group participating from where do they live?

Shannon Karafanda:

Yeah, so majority obviously in America, uh, the state of Georgia has the most, but there are several in surrounding Southern states, as well as, um, all across America. But we also have, I think, six or seven other countries, I was in a workshop with a few people who were trying to, um, get better at their writing. And one of the people who was in that group was from Australia. She is married to a pastor and also writes poetry. So I I've been able to engage with her. And she is like, you know, I see, I see my life differently now that you've taught, taught me about holy mischief. I want to do things differently. And so she's gathered people from Australia into that group, which has been fun to interact with them. But, uh, there's a few people from the UK that are engaging. The others are from, I think, I think we have India, Pakistan.

I think we have some from some countries in south America, they don't engage as much though. So it's kinda hard to tell who they are. There's about a thousand people in that group right now. And, um, what's great is, you know, first started with, Hey, I'm going to post one thing a day to either challenge or inspire someone. Um, but now I've got people who are like, Hey, I see this. I'm going to post it to the group. Or I did this. Um, I'm going to post now sometimes when they say I did this, they don't want to post about it because it feels like it's bragging. And so that's why the group is important because I tell people, if you post it here, it's not like you're posting to all your friends. It's, it's posting it. You're supposed to, that's what we want this group to be. It inspires someone else to do it, but if you're not ready to do that, send me a private message. And I'll post that someone did this, and then it's not reflecting on you. It's just, Hey, look at what someone else did. Great idea

Ryan Dunn:

Do you plan? Or do you prescribe or lay out specific props of holy mischief for people within the group?

Shannon Karafanda:

I do. And so, you know, when I talked about going on vacation and trying to brainstorm some ideas, I do take some time to, okay, what's coming out. That would, people would need. So back to school is a, is a big time, uh, Thanksgiving, how can you set some time apart with your family to let them know in a different way that they're loved brainstorm some ideas for that last year, we did a holy mischief Halloween weekend and kind of leaned into that. There are saints that we remember that passed on, but there are also some living sites that are around, how do you honor people and honor that God is in them. So how can we do things for our community, for our neighbors? Um, and, and remember those who have gone on. And so that was, that was a really fun weekend event, um, that I did some things locally, but encouraged other people to do things. And then we did a Facebook room where people gathered to pray on all saints day. So that was really nice.

Ryan Dunn:

A friend who's listening, who this is kind of a new notion too, but they're thinking, oh, this sounds fun. Or this even sounds really uplifting what might be an introductory act of holy mischief?

Shannon Karafanda:

Ooh, well, you know, the easy, I think this one's an easy one is to pay it backwards somewhere. It seems like everybody always goes through a drive through at some point in the week. And, um, to pay it backward is, is a good one. But, um, one thing that's really fun is to think about a neighbor that you want to do an active wholly, Mr. For. And let's say, let's just do this anonymously because sometimes the anonymous ones are even more fun and go to target or someplace that has like a dollar section and just go get some fun stuff and put it all together. Um, write a note that says, Hey, I hope you enjoy your day. Here's some stuff to, to help you play. I didn't really mean to make that rhyme, but

Ryan Dunn:

You get extra points if you rhyme. Yeah.

Shannon Karafanda:

Yeah. So, and then just put it in. Don't just put it in a regular bag. If you have the time, like putting it in something kind of big and outlandish, either hanging on their mailbox or put it at their front door and just continue on from there.

Ryan Dunn:

Where can folks kind of check out more? Like, where are some online points of contact for the holy mischief movement?

Shannon Karafanda:

If someone's on Facebook, they can search wholly mischief makers and they will find the group there. They can join the group any time. If they're not on Facebook, you can follow the hashtag holy mischief on Instagram, I post a lot. There's a couple other people from the group that will post things. There's also people who don't really tie into the overall theme that will post things that really actually have good ideas as well. And then I have a website, Channing, Kara fonda.com. If you can, if you can actually learn how to spell Fonda, you get really good bonus points. Um, but wholly michif.net will take you to the same website. And I've got a blog on there. So conversations I've had with people, um, as well as some ideas. So the back to school, uh, holding mischief ideas, there's one for each week of August that people can do.

Ryan Dunn:

We're recording this on a Tuesday morning. What's your act of holy mischief for today?

Shannon Karafanda:

Okay. So Mac probably mischief. Um, I am taking my daughter to target because she's going on a trip next week. And uh, so we have to do some stuff there, but I'm going, when we get to the cashier, I'm going to say, you know, Hey, you know, we're not on, I want to get some candy. We can't decide, you know, between this or this, which one's your favorite and we're going to buy that. And then as we leave, we're going to get it back to the cashier right on. Okay. Good

Ryan Dunn:

Good idea. I'll wait at least 24 hours before I steal that one.

Well, Shannon, thank you so much for sharing some inspiration with us, uh, for helping us envision some ways that we can be disruptors and maybe disrupt some of the negativity that kind of cycles back to us in our own. So we appreciate your time this morning.

Shannon Karafanda:

Absolutely. Thank you.

Ryan Dunn:

Mischief managed again. Holymischief.net is the site for connecting with the holy mischief movement or search holy mischief makers on Facebook. You can reach out to us at [email protected] If you'd like to show some appreciation for what you've heard, it's pretty easy to do that. In fact, this might even be a form of holy mischief. Here's what you do. Leave a positive rating and review for the compass podcast. You can do that on apple podcasts. We would so much appreciate it. We'll be back in two weeks. In the meantime, may peace be with you.