last post for rebuilding after deconstructing: 8. trusting the path

blog trusting the pathwell thank you, my friends, for taking this crazy journey for the past 2 weeks.  i am looking forward to getting back to the normal rhythm around here next week, 1 maybe 2 posts a week.  whoa, i can’t imagine blogging this much every week!

but my hope for this series was always that we could get all of the posts out there in one big swoop and then over time, people would be able to access them as they needed over time.  i have been blown away by the responses & emails & ways that people have shared what this has stirred up.  there are so many of us out here finding our way.

it reminds me of part of a cheryl lawrie piece i love that’s on the refuge website (she’s a prison chaplain in australia & all of her stuff rocks):

ezekial 37, again

you do not give up on the broken and the lost

you do not give up on the fractured or the shattered or the dying or the dead

you do not give up on the fearful or the hateful or the impossible

you do not give up when there is no heartbeat left or no heart at all

you do not give up you do not leave us for dead

thank god.

yeah, we are not left for dead.

some people might give up on us.

but God doesn’t.

there is so much hope for us.

a huge sign of life is that we are actually still in, trying to talk about this hard stuff..  people may criticize us and call us lost or angry or a host of other adjectives, but the beautiful thing is that we’re still in, trying to find our way toward God.  that, in itself, is a miracle (especially considering what some of you have gone through).  i also know some of you haven’t had painful church experiences but just “grew up.” i would say the same thing to you–it’s glorious that you are wrestling with cultivating a more free faith despite the costs.

as we wrap up, here’s a quick recap of the major movements of the rebuilding process:

rebuilding after deconstructing – there are many ways we find ourselves on this scary, weird, unexpected path, but our stories probably have many of the same threads–doubt, emptiness, loneliness, sadness, fear, anger, and confusion.

honoring the process – growth and change in our faith journey is often labeled as rebellion, divisiveness, and heresy, when really it is just maturity trying to emerge.  as we honor the stages of our faith, we find strength.

acknowledging losses – there’s a helluva lot of grief in this process, and it is so helpful to acknowledge what we’ve lost and allow ourselves to feel the real feelings of grief.

discovering what remains – when we are deconstructing and can’t hold to some of our old beliefs anymore we need to work to discover what is left when it comes to our faith, what’s still there that brings hope.

finding what works – finding what works is about experimenting with different practices and ways of being that create life, passion, and connection with God.

celebrating what was – celebrating the good parts of our past helps us honor what was and actively move toward what is and what could be.

igniting passion – as we keep moving, we begin to find purpose, meaning, and ways to channel our hearts & energy & time in directions that bring life & hope.

exploring possibilities –  even though it’s often scary to re-engage, there are ways to find new forms of safe community & connection with other people of hope.

what’s next?  it’s trusting the path, remembering we’re not lost.

in fact, we’re on a path toward a free-er relationship with God, others, ourselves.

i was reminded of these passages this morning:

“can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?…and I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  (romans 8:35, 38, NLT).

even though people around us might worry about our souls, i hope we can trust that our souls are not in danger by engaging in a deconstruction process.  i’m pretty sure God is plenty big enough to hack this and love us through it.    

and that’s my overall hope for all of us in these shifts that we’re making–that somehow, some way, we’d experience and trust God’s love for us more deeply, clearly, fully and become more secure in it.   i think that’s always been the idea.  the world doesn’t need more, fear-filled insecure christians, it needs more peace-filled, secure ones.

deconstructing can make us insecure, less sure of so many things. and even though it’s true that we might be less certain about a lot of peripheral things, my experience has been that if we stay with the process we emerge much more secure in God’s love for us, our neighbors, the world.  

we actually become more secure in the end. 

we can discover that less is more. 

that in our weakness we are strong.

that we don’t have to “know it all” or prove it all. 

that a simple faith can be a stronger faith. 

that we are loved, really loved, just as we are.

yeah, i have seen over and over again how this path leads to life, not death, if we keep walking.  the road is scary & bumpy & freaky and many people may tell us we’ll be eaten by wild animals or sucked into quicksand on the way.  the more i walk it & see others walk it, too,  the more clear i feel that it’s a good road.  a secure road.  a road-worth-traveling-so-we-can-keep-growing-loving-learning-and-becoming-more-free-in-the-good-and-wild-ways-of-Jesus.

let’s keep being brave.

we are not alone.

we are not crazy.

God is with us.  he’ll never leave us for dead.

we’re in the midst of resurrection.

* * * * *

ps:  even if you don’t normally comment, it would be so great if you’d be willing to share in this thread what this series has stirred up in you, the good, the bad & the ugly.  it is so helpful to all of us in different ways, to hear a wide range of experiences.

coming next week:  things people said & did that helped you in this process (and those that were oh-so-not-helpful) + practices that sustained you during deconstruction.  i hope you can contribute.  we need to make some good lists!

thanks for reading.  your stories bring me more hope than you’ll ever know. peace, kathy


 

 

 

 

 

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

52 Comments

  • Kathy,

    Thank you so much for this series, it really resonated with me. Any reminder that I’m not alone is a tremendous help to me. I think I’m still at the “wall stage” and I don’t know where my path is going to take me, but that’s part of the fun, right? At least that’s what I keep telling myself. I was reminded of this poem today:

    All that is gold does not glitter,
    Not all those who wander are lost;
    The old that is strong does not wither,
    Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
    From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
    A light from the shadows shall spring;
    Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
    The crownless again shall be king.
    — J.R.R Tolkien

    Thanks again.
    -HH

    Reply
    • oh i have loved having you here for this series and have appreciated all that you shared. love this piece, too. “the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost….” well, every line in this, really. thanks for sharing and look forward to seeing what continues to emerge over time. that’s the best part, there’s no hurry.

      Reply
  • Kathy,
    Thank you so much for this series. It came at a pivotal time for me. On May the 31st, I will serve my last day of ministry at a church where I have been on staff in a variety of positions – everything from music to assimilation – for 22 years. The last 7 of those years under the leadership of a highly driven and hyper-energetic lead pastor have been harder than I thought possible. It’s left me confused about what the Church is really supposed to look like. It has caused me to doubt my call to ministry. It’s made me wonder if I ever even want to go to church again. I love, love, love the people. But the leadership side of church I hate. It feels forced and fake and manipulative.

    My Foundation is solid. I’m ready for the rebuilding.
    VJ

    Reply
    • whoa, that is big stuff and my heart aches with you. i hope you can find a season of rest. i can so relate in many ways about loving the people so much; that indeed will feel like such a loss initially but hoping that over time you can find all kinds of surprising and freeing ways to love well without the power/control/machine stuff. much love and hope and prayers from colorado.

      Reply
  • Kathy,
    I so want to thank you for your response to my question about how to talk about all of this to my teenagers. I have never followed a blog before like this, and have never posted a comment. It was scary to put myself out there—everything is scary these days, and just the fact that you responded was affirming to me. Your response was right on –be honest—so right. Who can fool a teenager anyway?

    It is so good to know that these posts are out there as I wade through this process. I know as I stumble my way through this journey, I will come back to this to just remember that other people out there have done this, are doing this, and there is a light on the other side of this dark tunnel.

    One thing I am currently struggling with is I have been in recovery (co-dependent) for a long time, and as everything seems to be falling apart in my faith, the old and familiar thoughts and patterns of behavior seem to be rearing their ugly heads. I know what keeps me healthy, but a lot of that was trusting God, and I seem to be very stuck right now (not to mention the idea of sitting in a group right now is hard). I have not seen you mention anything on this blog about this in our deconstruction. Is this a part of all of the process or what? It obviously is adding to the pain and confusion so any advice here would be helpful.

    Reply
    • Jeanne,

      I know Kathy will speak to this, but I wanted to give my experience, as well.

      It is a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y normal for those old patterns to rear their ugly heads. Everyone I know who has gone through (or is going through) this process has experienced this to one degree or another. It does not mean you are ‘back-sliding’ or anything born out of the fear tactics the religious use to try and scare us away from the wall.

      It will be an uncomfortable process as you resort through a lot of these old emotions and patterns and come to even better terms with dealing with them. I really do think that is part of the process of reconstruction – the looking at everything and re-evaluating what is worth keeping….

      And trust is a scarce commodity in this neck of the path. It’s okay – you’re not ‘losing your faith’. It is just getting re-oriented. Remember, Jesus is the one who holds on to us, not the other way around. We don’t have the strength to hold on to anything. But he said nothing could pluck us out of his hand. That’s a pretty big statement. He also said that we will each stand or fall (individually) before our own master (him) and he will make us stand. That doesn’t look much like what they taught in Bible class, but it is real and he does sustain through the fear and the pain and the confusion and all the other things that swirl in the darkness. Oh, and he is not mad at us. At all. The process does not fuss him at all.

      My best advice (from someone still in process) is to just not quit moving down the path, no matter where it looks like it might lead. Trust that even when you can’t feel or see or sense him, he is still Emmanuel – God with us – and he really does have you in the palm of his hand, even in what feels like a bramble patch at midnight.

      Peace to you – really. We’re gonna make it.

      Reply
      • Thank you, thank you, thank you for your words and for normalizing what feels very crazy-maiking. Again, knowing that others are out there and working through this, and it can be done, is something for me to hold onto right now.
        Peace to you as well,
        Jeanne

        Reply
    • hey jeanne, i am so glad you were brave and posted a comment; i totally know that it is always really a weird feeling to put ourselves out there on the www for all to see. but i do think it’s helpful, too, especially when others are asking the same questions inside and don’t want to post a comment, either 🙂 oh how i know that feeling of codependent patterns rearing their ugly head. because i’m always working on healing in this area, i was and often still am profoundly aware just how deeply rooted into so much of me is control & people-pleasing. it’s crazy. i think it’s really true that during these seasons where some of our old structures aren’t there anymore that kept us distracted & feeling “safer” somehow (even though it wasn’t) are gone, it makes sense that our old coping stuff would kick into gear. i do think this is where “finding what works” is important. what brings some peace? what brings some serenity? what brings some hope? the serenity prayer was my mantra (and still is). it made me think of this post http://www.kathyescobar.com/2009/09/18/serenity-courage/, which might be a helpful little exercise to do right now in terms of coming back to letting go. ps: i did read a lot of melody beattie’s “the language of letting go” devos during that season, too. not sure if that is at all helpful but just tossing it out there. also for me, it helped to practice untying God from the system. i can’t trust the system, but can i still trust God is a really rough question but i think one we have to wrestle with. i found i could but not in a rush. i alsoreally like what jeanette said about it just being so normal to have our old sh*t come out in new ways because we are more vulnerable. i think ultimately it’s really good, because it’s another layer of healing in the end. thanks for your honesty and for saying what others of us feel, too.

      Reply
      • Kathy,
        Thank you for your honesty and for a place to share this scary path with others.

        I read the post that you referred me to –the phrase that hit me was “trust the bigger story, not just this chapter” That feels like something I can hold onto for now. I can’t yet bring myself to read my recovery materials—I do have that devotional you mentioned, but I am still reeling from the sting and bruises from the wall–so that is a not yet for me. What seems to bring some peace now is walking and some journaling.

        I never really believed in the concept of online community–but this is a beautiful!—a safe and comforting place–the only community I can do right now. So thank you, thank you that you have forged this path so others can walk along it as well.
        Peace my friend,
        Jeanne

        Reply
  • I have so appreciated this honest and hopeful discussion with you all. The abusive church, the still crazy, though not abusive, southern fundie ( big, of course) place we ended up afterward, and my more grown up questions have brought me into a process of deconstruction and rebuilding which seems incredibly important and maturing. But, it is also one that has absolutely befuddled many near to me as to who I am becoming…and/or reemerging to be. They did not know the “Before I Was a Professional Christian” me.

    More than anything, I appreciate the cohorts I have gained here. It is good to know one does not travel alone.

    As I presently oversee a college age ministry, I encounter much natural deconstruction… especially when the students come from more fundamentalist and conservative backgrounds. The principles and exhortations ( offered here) to give those in such processes long leashes and wide spaces to reorient themselves to God’s heart and voice have been so guiding to our development of the philosophy of ministry and the formative processes we try to employ. It’s working wonderfully…you would be so pleased that God-hearted young people are surviving and arising rather than throwing up their hands and walking away from Christ’s Kingdom. It is quite beautiful…and hope restoring to me.

    I so appreciate the support I have experienced here from readers. Good folks gather here.
    And Kathy, you are a treasure found. Thank you so much for the work you do and the heart from which you do it. I certainly have experienced the care of a pastor through you.

    Reply
    • thanks, kim, it is beautiful and hope-restoring to hear the stories of young people having a chance at a different way. my daughter, who is 18, read the first post in this series and she was like “that’s me!” it feels scary but in the end i think so much greater freedom & passion & love will emerge without all of the baggage. that is so pretty. thanks for sharing & being part of this series, too. the oh-yeah-we-are-so-not-alone has been helpful to me, too.

      Reply
  • I have appreciated you doing such an outstanding, inspiring job of putting developmental process into understandable terms. It has been great to wrestle and reflect afresh on my own journey and the journeys that other people are on.

    As my own journey continues and I continue my own further of my education and ministry, I suspect, I’ll be back here. I’m excited to see and hear the impact Janet’s work is having and that spiritual development is being talked about as well as practiced. Looking forward to continuing the journey.

    Reply
    • thanks ken, glad you are here! her work continues to really help give language to this process and i am so grateful for it, too. peace.

      Reply
  • I’m right smack dab in the middle of this process. I’ve found such affirmation here for the feelings I’ve had about the journey I’m on, and such hope for the future. Thanks, Kathy, for making me feel normal in my abnormalities and for helping me actually be excited about the unpredictable things that are around my corner.

    Reply
  • Hi Kathy,

    This series for me has been affirming and life-changing. Knowing that I am not crazy, I am not “backsliding”, and having the peace I feel about this process affirmed has been amazing. I plan on really working through these posts and have invited others to do so with me (as you know).
    It is encouraging that things I was already discerning I needed to do were confirmed to me. Thank you!

    Reply
    • sophia, i am so glad you were here and really look forward to hearing how blogging through these stages for mars hill refugees goes. i hope it somehow brings some comfort & peace & hope. with you from afar.

      Reply
  • Again, awesome series! Many of the things you have shared have really resonated with me.

    The past couple of days I’ve been working on a post about part of the story of how my journey started – primarily by being shunned by a church I had been part of for many years, merely because I began to have a few differences of opinion. My reaction to their reaction led to more questions on my part, and my journey began. It’s been both painful and cathartic to relive it as I’ve read your posts.

    You said, “this path leads to life, not death, if we keep walking.” Ironically, I had come to a very similar conclusion to the post I was writing. Thank you for confirming my sense of hopeful anticipation.

    Blessings, Kathy!

    Reply
    • thanks ed, sorry for the pain and the word “shunning” hurts even hearing it. going through it, horrible. but what a beautiful thing to be finding hope in the pain. glad you are writing about it, too, that is so healing. glad you are here!

      Reply
  • This series came at just the right time for me. It has brought me patience, compassion, and even gratefulness for my spiritual history and those involved in it; I was so bitter about it all and trying to run in the opposite direction for a long time. It’s funny how we try to compensate for insecurity by blunt and aggressive attempts to prove ourselves like a big eff-you in the face of our past, when that action in and of itself is so insecure. But now I’m learning to appreciate my history because it wasn’t all bad and it brought me here. Overall, this series has brought me more peace and security so I can be comfortable with where I am and the fact that not everyone is here.

    Reply
    • thanks carlynn, for sharing. it is so true, that insecure feeling causes us to do-whatever-we-can-to-get-some-security back and oh boy did i do my share of f’-you’s. but looking back i’m sure there are things i did that could have been avoided and maybe not-quite-so-ugly but there’s another part that wonders if that was just part of the bloody messy process of healing. who knows, because it’s too late to turn back and rewind but what a relief when greater security comes and we find ourselves more comfortable in our own skin, more secure, even in the midst of so many unknowns. glad the timing was good for you & i really appreciate you taking time to comment.

      Reply
  • “we actually become more secure in the end”
    Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof; and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit- Ecclesiastes 7:8
    Thanks Kathy for your series. One of my heroes of the bible is Jacob. Contrary to what is preached everywhere that his name means supplanter, which it does not, here is a man who had the privilege of slapping God around for a night. Little did he know at the time that Jesus was leading him into the greatest position of all time, that of lying on the ground and holding on to the heel of the One whose own heel would be bruised for all of us. Jacob was a prince who wrestled with God and man and prevailed. He was not a supplanter. He was a prince.
    Perhaps we should see ourselves in the same light.
    Grace, mercy and peace to all….

    Reply
    • this line made me laugh out loud this morning “here is a man who had the privilege of slapping God around for a night.” 🙂 love. thanks for sharing this little gem and so glad you have been here for this journey.

      Reply
  • My heart is aching for these (mostly) women who have suffered, or are suffering the oppression of spiritual abuse. There is a loving, healing voice beckoning them to Stage 6 from whatever stage they find themselves in. Come to the oasis of Living Water, it whispers. We’ll make sure you don’t leave thirsty … and maybe even soaking wet … giggly wet with His Love.

    I want to somehow knit our combined talents together along with the Holy Spirit to bring healing and redemption to these beloved daughters (and sons) of Christ. I never really knew if an internet ministry was possible. Kathy, through your wisdom, your love, you have demonstrated that not only is it possible, it is probably a necessity.

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    Reply
    • thanks jim, i am so glad you have been here and all that you add to the conversation. it is so painful, the abuse and ugliness so many have experienced, and i am so glad so many are finding freedom and hope. it makes me think of isaiah 55:1-3
      “Is anyone thirsty?
      Come and drink—
      even if you have no money!
      Come, take your choice of wine or milk—
      it’s all free!
      Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength?
      Why pay for food that does you no good?
      Listen to me, and you will eat what is good.
      You will enjoy the finest food.

      Reply
  • Hmm…trusting the path. This has been the heart of what I have been learning since walking away from church 5 years ago. It’s something that my friend and I say to each other often – Trust the Path. Those who haven’t gotten here yet may think this sounds trite or simplistic….those who are in the middle of it – well, I really don’t know how to explain except to say: trust the path God has laid for you. It will not all be sunshine and roses. There will be some very dark passages, overgrown and tangled. Trust the path, even when it seems obvious that you ‘totally missed it”. He knows what he is doing and he’s got us…

    Truly, trusting the path really boils down to trusting the one who laid the path. And that takes time – relationship….

    Reply
    • i really like this reminder that the path is there even if it feels like somehow we “missed it”. it’s corny but it really is that indiana jones clip about crossing the chasm.

      Reply
  • Oh, Jeannette. You get this. So this reply isn’t so much for you as it is for everyone else who has been touched by your comment.

    In times as these, when I can’t seem to find the path, I like to reflect on Joshua 3 (click on my name for more). This is where the people of Israel cross the Jordan into the Promised Land on a road only God could see — the one beneath the water.

    If I strategically overcome or avoid an obstacle with my own cleverness, I am devising a plan of my own making and executing it. I then can accomplish merely what is humanly possible. In order to participate fully in God’s plan, I have to get my feet wet. I have to be faithful all the way into the water.

    All the way into the water.

    As you know, faith includes God’s Presence. Not just the kind-of-out-there, sort-of-kinda this is what I think He wants, and if I halfheartedly do it hopefully it will all work out. No, that’s not faith. That is a distant God. The God of our faith is within us … in relationship … deep within us. We carry the Ark of His presence with us — always leading the way for all who wish to follow …

    … while we pray for the stiff-necked horses of our past and wish them well as continue down the path to becoming more fully human.

    May the blessings of our Lord God always reward your faith. And through your soaking wet sandals may you always feel the rock of His road beneath you.

    Reply
  • Kathy,
    Thank you SO much for this series! It has been incredibly validating and I see my own journey in it. Some of the things that were most helpful:
    – a reminder to celebrate where we came from: years in ministry, support raising, evangelism… Precious parts of who I am now in what I was. I think I needed permission to value these without apology (obviously part of me is still a somewhat submissive Brethren girl even now)
    – conviction to be patient with my husbands much slower journey. I feel so free and excited about God again! I’m kind of tired of the angst.
    – acknowledgement that retreat to the fringe of our mainstream church isn’t a betrayal of our evolving beliefs, an imperfect solution but the best place for us right now
    – realization that many of my new passions/projects in the past few years are not distractions, but new ways of connecting with God and purpose (writing, blogging, even adoption)
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • i am so glad you have been here! thanks for this list and what you gleaned. makes me really happy 🙂 coming this month, too, is a look at what happens when one partner is at a completely different place than the other. i think this really needs to be addressed! much peace.

      Reply
  • I have no idea where I am on this journey. A little over a month ago, my world fell apart. Things I had hung my faith on didn’t make sense. I’m a gen xer so doubting and skepticism is already a part of my make-up, but this past month has been chaos and hell. For the first time in a long time, I’ve avoided my Bible and prayer. I found comfort in music that is searching for something. I’ve been going to different church services.

    Two years ago, I was employed at a church….I was then, and am still, trying to figure out what it means to be “called to ministry” as a female and what on earth that looks like and how living out that calling can bring something other than pain. For almost two years i have hated going to church, still the same church i had worked at. Right Before my world fell apart, again, a month ago…I thought I was on a path, but now I feel like I’m back in the wilderness.

    I know this is vague and may not make sense to anyone, but what I really want to say…is for the first time in a month, Kathy, you articulated something that sounded familiar and gave me hope. I even opened my Bible again this week…only to Lamentations and Isaiah and th Psalms, books that say things like I feel…but still, I’m trying to rebuild the simple things again. I read every post, but some of them didn’t “click” yet. I’m sure I will be back to read some of these again as I continue on this journey. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  • thanks for your honesty. the wilderness is rough, brutal and also beautiful in different ways. i also like that you are acknowledging that you are where you are and aren’t feeling the need to make it through each stage in a rush. that was always the idea, that you could come back to any of these places when the time felt right. much peace in the midst.

    Reply
  • Having just found this series through Rachel Held Evans’ blog, every day that I have come back to read the new installment I feel amazed that there is a community that understands. I am amazed that I am TRULY not alone and that this path is worth it!

    Kathy, I am so thankful for your honesty, courage, transparency, and the gentle and powerful way that you engage with these things. I know that I have found my voice more in the last 2 weeks about my journey likely than in the whole past year that I’ve been on this path. This path of questioning the authority/place of the Scriptures in our life, the reality of the incarnation, the necessity of strong definite doctrines, and everything that sounds christian-y causing me to just about break out in hives.

    I am about to graduate from a fairly conservative seminary with a degree in theological studies. I came to seminary ready to change people’s hearts for Jesus because I was about to learn all the right answers… I leave feeling exhausted by my studies, questioning everything I’ve ever known about God and faith, and wondering if I’ll ever work through my feelings of being betrayed by God and the church.

    And yet I can honestly say having engaged with your writings and the other commenters the last 2 weeks, I trust myself more. I trust God more. I thought last year that maybe because I was questioning everything, despising any kind of preaching that I heard, and other ‘not-good-Christian’ things that maybe I wasn’t one. Thankfully one good friend helped convince me that God was big enough for my questions and hurt. I love the way you put it here: i’m pretty sure God is plenty big enough to hack this and love us through it. yes, yes! for that i truly am thankful.

    I have a final “sum-up-seminary-journey” project/presentation to several faculty and other students in 2 weeks, not the safest group ever, but I feel a fresh freedom to be honest with where I am. Maybe some of them will be seriously concerned about my theology or even my faith, but I’m feeling more comfortable with that, being here with all of you- and maybe I’ll bring some new freedom to someone else.

    I’m so thankful for your large understanding of God. Thank you for hoping for us and with us, Kathy!!

    Hillary

    Reply
    • hillary, thank you so much for taking time to share where you are at on the journey. stories like yours bring me so much hope. seriously. you will be able to journey with people in a way that those who haven’t gone-this-way-before won’t be able to. and i sincerely believe that’s what the church needs. i’ll be thinking of you as you do your final project/summary presentation, too! much peace and courage to you. becoming more and more comfortable in our own skin is a beautiful thing.

      Reply
  • Kathy, I loved this series as I love pretty much everything you write. I’m neck deep in the middle of intentional community, having pretty much shed any sort of institutional church. I’m sorting out what it means to be rooted in my neighborhood and coming up against how I’m so not used to making friends outside of church walls which is making me feel all kinds of vulnerable. At the same time I’m working out with these other people in this community what it means to share life together, to be active in our community, to lead lives of gratitude and simplicity in a culture of greed and fear. . . it’s a lot to take in. We all need every bit of encouragement and cheering on we can get when we’re out there doing things against the grain of the systems we’re comfortable with and I think that is just what you are doing with these words you’ve written, so thank you thank you thank you! 🙂

    Reply
    • thanks for taking time to comment, tamara, i always love hearing what you guys are doing up there. glad we can all keep learning together. much love from colorado.

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      • See you next week here in my neck of the woods! Looking forward to it!

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  • I came across this blog through a friend’s link. I haven’t yet read this whole series.

    I suppose I fit in, because I don’t fit in the Christian box very well any more. Evangelical doesn’t fit, orthodox presbyterian doesn’t fit, catholic is a tempting possibility but not really a good fit, mainlines and liberals don’t fit…

    I’m still afraid of the slippery slope stuff, and dismayed at the idea that moving forward in my own faith and maturing could mean losing Christian friends, losing church, losing so much that has been home.

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    • thanks marcy, for taking time to share. i hope that maybe reading through the posts can somehow bring some hope that you’re not crazy and you’re not alone. it’s a scary process, these shifts. much peace.

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      • Coming back to share that, for the most part, I have found a blissful home in the Episcopal church, of all things. I love the sacramentalism and the liturgy. I love that the priest is serious about following Jesus, and not merely some mythical fictional Jesus, and yet has a much more interesting and mostly plausible approach to the Bible and various doctrines, and that he is not only my priest but also spiritual director and friend. Too bad he is retiring in a few months. I am not sure how things will go from there. And even though there is much bliss here, I am still terrified that I might be wrong about any number of things, and that even considering some of this liberal stuff might be awful damnable heresy, or that I might find that even this way of faith is a false hope, or some other ultimate danger to the core of life and identity.

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        • marcy, thanks so much for taking time to stop back over and share where you are…so encouraging and of course, any risk is so scary. that “heresy” voice can be so strong from some of our traditions and i hope you can find peace in the midst, remembering that we never have to give ourselves fully over to a system or church or agree with everything they say or do or that who we are is contingent on them. may hope prevail.

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          • Thank you. You know, this passage from Merton that Fr. John sent me this morning would fit in well here, too:

            A flash of sanity: the momentary realization that there is no need to come to certain conclusions about persons, events, conflicts, trends, even trends toward evil and disaster, as if from day to day, and even from moment to moment, I had to know and declare (at least to myself) that this is so and so, this is good, this is bad. We are heading for a “new era” or we are heading toward destruction. What do such judgements mean? Little or nothing. Things are as they are in an immense whole of which I am a part and which I cannot pretend to grasp. To say I grasp it is immediately to put myself in a false position, as if I were “outside” it. Whereas to be “in” it is to seek truth in my own life and action, moving where movement is possible and keeping still when movement is unnecessary, realizing that things will continue to define themselves and that the judgments and mercies of God will clarify themselves and will be more clear to me if I am silent and attentive, obedient to His will, rather than constantly formulating statements in this age which is smothered in language, in meaningless and inconclusive debate in which, in the last analysis, nobody listens to anything except what agrees with his own prejudices.

            from Journal March 2, 1966

  • such a healing, validating series for me. i have accepted the process for what it is and feel very much at peace personally. my fear, is what my lack of clear direction right now is saying to my children…. ages 6, 12, 16 and 18. i’ve tried to be very open with them about where i am, but i’m not sure they completely understand how real my faith still is even though it no longer looks like it has for their entire lives. i think my older girls do, and i am challenging them to take ownership of their own faith instead of relying on me or the church to spoon feed them, but i worry that my boys are getting the wrong message when i don’t take them to sunday school each week at the same time everyone else is going. old habits and mindsets are hard to break, i guess.

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    • thanks missy, i glad that it’s been healing. i have 2 additional topics i’d love to explore over the upcoming month that i think we really need to talk about–1. what about the kids? and 2. what about when partners/spouses are on a different path completely. this is tricky stuff. i hope that you can contribute and share what you keep learning and are wrestling with.

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  • Thank you so much for this series, Kathy. Affirmation for the journey is so helpful. And it’s exciting to me to learn some new language to describe this process of growth, in a way that I hope will enable me to encourage others. Many blessings to you and everyone here!

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  • Kathy, I hope you know how much I’ve come to love you over the past several months… I’m still working on all of this and am so glad to know a “pastor” who, like Jesus, knows what it’s like to become disillusioned with “the church”. I have been working hard on other things, so I haven’t been able to “keep up” here… but I’ll keep coming back. Thank you for being faithful.

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  • Kathy- Thank you so much for this series. I’m not a regular reader of your blog, but I suppose this series has generated enough interest I found out about it through somebody else.

    I especially appreciate your encouragement to “do whatever works”. There are ways that I feel closer to God that are not the same as what other people need, and it’s good to be reminded that that is OKAY!

    My “deconstruction” began long ago (while in seminary, I lost a ministry job I loved–working with college students–because I wouldn’t tell somebody they were headed for hell, since they hadn’t been baptized), and it’s high time for me to be intentional about moving onward, in a way that makes sense for me. Thanks for giving me the nudge I needed…

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  • Kathy. I only found this series a few days ago and have not looked at many of the comments, but it really is a case of life going full circle. I first saw ‘a nifty chart for the journey’ when you posted it in 2008. I’m now 76 and at that time I guess I would have thought that I was somewhere near the end of stage five – or as I would have described it on my own blog as an integrated way finder where the reconstruction work had basically been completed – but still open to refinement – a more rounded faith that seeks to integrate all aspects of life – aware of some of the deeper issues that lie within.

    I had reached a point about four years previously that I would have chosen to stop attending church, but my wife who was and still is one of the worship leaders would have been unable to attend church (she doesn’t drive). But in 2009 one particular sermon was the straw that broke the camels back. My wife knew that this had been too much and understood when I said that in future I would take her and bring her home.

    Then in 2010 some remarkable things happened that quickly gave me a completely new insight into some of the truths of the gospel message. Then in July 2011 I was introduced to WordPress and among other things started transferring my blog from Blogger. In the past I had been reluctant to share some of my ‘unorthodox’ views in case I upset the sense of security that many older people relied on. It gradually became obvious that I was being directed to a different audience – those who had been, or were being drawn away from the churches that they may have been attending for many years. With hindsight I can see that for about the last eight years I have been learning so much about why people believe what they believe, often as a result of divisive, denominational theology.

    I’m not by nature much of a reader but I do have a bit of a reputation for asking the awkward questions to which there are no easy answers, and encouraging people to think for themselves. I also discovered in 2008 that I have Aspergers Syndrome (self diagnosis) – and that was an exciting discovery because it explained so much of why I think the way I do.

    I’ve spent a lot of time over the last nine months collecting together the story of my long journey through life and reflecting on what has been important for me – others will have been on different journeys and will have differing perspectives – all part of the overall picture. The first page of the site says so much – it will probably be too much for most people – but it’s obvious to me that some of your readers will be able to relate, at least in part.

    I honestly have no idea what happens next. If anyone has any thoughts please let me know.

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  • Kathy, thanks for writing all this. It’s given Ryan and I some needed motivation to keep talking and tackling what’s in front of us.

    I grew up on the edge of the wilderness in Montana and spent a lot of time exploring the remote, empty land we lived on. It was always a scary feeling to walk for a long time along the trail without seeing anyone and then have the trail disappear and realize you had probably gotten off the real trail and onto a deer trail, you weren’t where you thought you were, and you might not be able to get back to where you could pick up the trail to home. This place we’re at spiritually feels like the wilderness. It’s beautiful, and I know it’s where I need to be – but there’s not a lot of people around and it can be scary and feel like getting lost. This series has felt like running into someone out there who knows the area better than I do, someone saying, “It’s ok, there’s a trail here. Its faint, but it’s still the trail and you’re not as lost as you thought. It goes somewhere good. Don’t be afraid (or turn around) keep walking!” It gives me a little more courage to ignore the voices calling me back to the paved trails or the marked trails – the safe trails and polluted trails that seem to just go in circles – and follow the much quieter voice that I think I hear drawing me in the direction I’m heading. So nice running into you out here!

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  • Thank you so much for this material. God knows I need it. I’m a 52 year old seminary-trained pastor that has absolutely NO idea who I am or what I’m supposed to be doing right now (although I’m still pastoring). Ha! I’d rather be fabricating custom motorcycles! Anyhow, thanks for the material. Keep up the good insight.

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    • hi jack, thanks so much for sharing. oh, how many pastors are in the same boat 🙂 glad you found your way here to these posts and appreciate you taking time to write.

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