rebuilding after deconstructing: 2. acknowledging losses

blog acknowleding losses“grief is itself a medicine.”  ~ william cowper

thank you for your honest & beautiful & hard responses to what the first 2 posts in this series have stirred up. i’m always reminded in these moments how many of us are out there asking the same questions, feeling the same feelings, trying to find our way. if you haven’t read them already, read the intro post  & part 1. honoring the process first.

as i mentioned yesterday, grief work is a big part of this journey toward something new with God. i’m not going to go into all of the ins and outs of grief here, but it is really important to acknowledge that these shifts are losses.

real losses. 

like death & divorce & other big events where nothing will ever be the same anymore. 

an initial part of any kind of grief is denial. we often protect ourselves by minimizing, suppressing, pushing down the feelings, and blaming.  it’s scary to actually feel the magnitude of the loss, and sometimes in the early part of our grieving process, we just can’t.

but eventually, our healing requires it.

i am one of the best minimizers in town. i know how to gloss over pain, make it not-as-bad, take the blame, anything, really, to not feel hard feelings.  on this spiritual shifting process, though, what i keep learning is how important it is to respect and honor what i am really feeling instead of hide behind “it’s not that big of a deal, what’s my problem anyway, i just need to get over it and figure out a way to move on.”  my middle name could be “bootstraps”–yep, kathy bootstraps escobar.  i know what it means to pull myself up by my bootstraps and carry on.

it usually always comes back to bite me.

moving through this hard stuff toward renewal and change, a bootstraps-mentality will get us into trouble because we’ll avoid looking at the real feelings underneath.  when it comes to issues around pain & healing, i always say “pay now or pay later with interest.”  if we push it down and try to minimize, avoid, or skim over it, eventually the pain & hurt will ooze out, but even stronger with more collateral damage.

for me, one of the hardest parts on my spiritual journey has been acknowledging how much i have really lost over the years through this process.  it’s easy to look at my life now and see how much i’ve gained.  it’s true, i am free-er & healthier than i’ve been in a long time.  but the truth is, i’ve still lost a lot of what i once held dear.  things that protected me.  comforted me.  buoyed me. helped me.  loved me.  so much has gone since i left the fold of familiar and traditional systems and started on this new path.

many of us are very in touch with our losses already; they are on the tip of our tongue, and we have been saying them out loud for a while.  others of us may have a harder time with acknowledging losses.  we may even feel shame for admitting some of them.  we may think they aren’t that big of a deal, that they aren’t real losses or shouldn’t hurt so much.

i want to keep reminding everyone is that this kind of loss is real.

and part of moving forward toward renewal & change is to acknowledge our losses in safe spaces.

this is not so that we can feel cruddier about ourselves and feel more lost.  but rather so that we can own the reality of our experience and respect the costs.  acknowledging losses is painful but it also validates something important in our souls. it gives us the ability to go “oh yeah, that was really hard. i miss that.  i miss them. i’m sad about that. it hurts.”

in our walking wounded: hope for those hurt by the church class, we process this more intentionally, but for the sake of brevity and one blog post, i want to challenge us each to consider what we’ve lost so far in this weird & scary process. it helps us be able to move forward.

if you want to, write them down somewhere. consider both tangible and intangible losses.  tangible ones are clear and real, as in “i lost my job” or “i lost my church family” or “i lost this relationship or friendship.”  intangible ones are a little harder to pin down but equally important–“i lost my safety and security” or  “i lost my passion for anything related to God” or “i lost my ability to trust my instincts.”

below are some of mine off the top of my head; a lot of my process includes church baggage.

over time, i have lost:

  • some really important friendships that i still grieve.
  • a good paying ministry job.
  • my innocence.
  • my confidence. 
  • trust in leadership, almost any kind. 
  • the ability to experience a spiritual high.
  • security, the safety net of other people who thought & believed & were just like me. 
  • desire and passion for the Bible in the ways that used to clearly “work.”
  • the comfort of certainty, damn i miss it sometimes. 

what about you, what have you lost?  if you’re willing to be honest here, i think it would help others feel less alone.  i know it always helps me.

* * * * *

next in the series we’ll switch gears to:  discovering what remains 

 

 

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life and online. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver 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.

43 Comments

  • I’ve lost a sense of being in a groove with my work and calling. It’s interesting to reflect on your framework, because I had an image of myself of not really fitting the first three stages. (still do, really). It raises questions for me whether this is more cyclical than your steps suggest.

    Reply
    • This framework fits more for those who have been part of a highly structured religious environment, like the Evangelic Christian church I grew up in. I don’t think that the first three steps are necessary to start the journey inward. People coming from different backgrounds might still have a crisis of faith, and approach the journey inward from a different starting point.

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      • thanks, gita, i agree with you that it tends to resonate most with those with that background and that’s why those first 3 stages connect so clearly.

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    • thanks for sharing, andrew. i do think this model doesn’t fit every circumstance or situation and tends to be more related specifically to spiritual development. also, one of the things i like about the original work (i think it’s in the first post a long time ago) is that we do, indeed, move back through them in different seasons and in different ways. but we can’t skip over certain ones initially. like very model, so many limitations but i know it helps give language to a lot of people’s experiences. ps: lots of wild and fun collaborative stuff still going on at the grange. hope you can come visit us next time you’re out this way.

      Reply
  • I’ve lost friendships – real and superficial.
    I’ve lost innocence and faith in God and gained cynicism.
    I’ve lost hope. And that is what scares me most. How can I believe when…?
    I’ve lost trust. In sharing my dark places and having them ignored and left to fend on my own.

    And am definitely a denier of whatever is going on and an excellent carry on-er no matter what. Characteristic that has been with since pre-school.

    Quick fixes lack substance, need to go deeper, where it really hurts!

    Saw a picture today of flower bulbs stuck beneath the hard ground.
    It is the hard ground that needs ploughing/water. The flowers strain for the surface and air.

    Reply
    • thanks, ann, for your honesty. beautiful imagery on the flowers, too, it’s so weird how i am always drawn to that image and i use it all the time on this blog.

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  • The biggest losses to me, at this point, 4 years after The Event:

    I’ve lost faith in the bible, and I’ve lost trust in God.

    This is so hard for me, because I really believe these are foundational beliefs on my journey with God, but I don’t know how to get them back. I begin to pray, and thing, “well, God may listen, but he’s just as likely not going to. what’s the point?” I hear the bible verses reminding me “to be bold in our requests,” but it doesn’t mean anything anymore. I used to think my spiritual gift was “faith!”

    Reply
    • thanks for sharing, bonnie. this is all such tough stuff, especially when such core things have been rocked. these are the moments where easy answers can roll off tongues so easily..”just try x, y, or z…..” i wish it were that simple. much peace and hope in this process, i’m glad you are here.

      Reply
  • I lost the belief that all people are basically good and that only hurting people hurt people. I experienced a relationship with a psychopath in church leadership. I now understand on a very deep level that there are some people that have no empathy, no conscience and will use, abuse, destroy, lie, cheat and steal without a shred of remorse all the while talking about God and ministry and love. And some of the people that become aware of the mistake that they made in letting a psychopath into leadership want to hush it up and let it fade away and cover it up. I expected them to be honest. I expected them to hold the psychopath accountable. They did not. He was asked to leave the local church, but he simply moved his con to the church down the street. I do believe that some are still deceived by the psychopath and some are in denial, but some are aware and choose to cover it up. When you experience this type of betrayal first hand, the church becomes a very unsafe place. The Catholic Church is not the only church guilty of covering up gross abuses from church leaders.

    The image that resonates with my soul (regarding where I find myself today) is a painting that I ran across on the internet. http://www.deviantart.com/print/9694798/ I am not in Kansas anymore! There really is “no place like home” for me. I am blessed with some true friends and a wonderful family and they are my “home”.

    Reply
    • I so feel you. Been there as well. ( I know you were not here with us, but your story is so very similar.) No one can imagine the chaos and insanity of what we endured in such circumstance.

      Ten years out, I am just beginning to truely process and not just do the work of spiritual and natural survival…in a life so busy with husband, 4 kids and a teaching/ministry capacity job, I am just beginning to see all the ways the extended experience cored me out like one would an apple.

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      • @Kim,
        I am so sorry that you have had a similar experience! It breaks my heart to think of how many other victims are out there…past, present and future.

        I CAN imagine the chaos and insanity, I lived it too. It is like spiritual “Vietnam”, pure evil, devastating, and traumatic! Thank God you survived it all with your faith in tact! Nobody understands like someone who has been through the same thing! God bless you and your family!

        I spent some time with a Christian therapist and she was very helpful in validating my experience. God is helping me get to a place of forgiveness. I have read many books about the disturbing world of psychopaths (“Without Conscience” by Robert Hare) and pathological antagonists in the church and they are helping me also. I needed a new perspective and a new understanding of the psychopaths motives to understand as much as possible, let it go, and heal. I am still processing and learning and healing and praying. It is very difficult to wrap your brain around people that have no empathy or conscience. People that are very skilled at making themselves out to be the victim in every circumstance, masters of lies and manipulation. It is deeply painful and disturbing to experience these people anywhere, much more so in the church! One thing I know for sure is…that it is essential to find a safe place to talk about the truth of your experiences. That is why I am so very thankful for God, family, friends, blogs (like this one), websites, and books where the truth really does set us free. I pray for healing for all the victims of psychopaths hiding out in the church.

        Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
        Matthew 7:15

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      • “cored me out like an apple…” that is powerful imagery. so much violence done in the name of God. as i hear these stories, i am amazed at the courage that it takes to “get out” of truly abusive and unsafe systems like you and laurie (and so many others) have experienced. your stories matter and give others hope that healing is possible.

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    • oh laurie, thank you so much for your honesty. i am always reminded in these moments how real and prevalent spiritual abuse is, alive and well, trying to ruin and ravage people. i am so glad you are finding hope and healing. that picture is amazing, i am going to order one for a friend.

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  • a friend recently directed me to your website here, and I am already very much appreciating what I have read in the past two posts you have written. I am realizing just where I am in this process of deconstructing, and even though it hurts, I can see now that it is good. Thank you so much for taking the time to pick this process apart for everyone who reads your posts!

    Reply
  • Separating from dysfunctional systems and relationships can be scary. We fear and sense loss, especially when the other party in the relationship has told us we can’t survive without them. In the case of church, we’re told we need those people and that system to provide us with friends, correct understanding of God and the Bible, confidence, certainty, joy & spiritual highs.

    In reality, that system and those people need us so they have someone to control, someone who will listen to them, and someone to pay them for doing these things.

    We are so much better off now that we’re not part of all of that weirdness. Separation can be tough, but can also be healing.

    We know those who have significant problems building relationships outside the system. I’m very suspicious this is a major part of why many stay in the system or return – They don’t like it, but don’t know how to survive without it (sort of like to woman who stays in a bad marriage because she doesn’t think she can survive on her own).

    Tell us how you did it Kathy and give us some tips. A good place to start might be how to simply make and keep friends. I don’t think most people know how.

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    • thanks sam, i love your story because it reminds me of what is possible. we’ll keep hacking at this series and hopefully some tangible stuff to consider. i think the friendship thing is so big, i’m not sure we’ll touch on it in this series as much but all summer long we are going to do something centered specifically on friendship, just learning how to be a friend (men with men, women with women, women with men) on wednesdays. i think it’s so true, we just don’t know how. we got taught how to go to church, how to believe a lot of things, but not how to just simply be a friend.

      Reply
      • You are so right, Kathy. We are not taught how to be a friend. Yet isn’t that what Jesus was to his 12? I have not had to go though what you have. Nor what your blog responders have. I think over my lifetime God has protected me, church-wise. But I have my own struggles and what you write is a help.

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  • I’ve been thinking about this all day. I wish I had the time to really sit and think deep about it and come up with something better than a list off the top of my head. But alas, today is not a deep-thinking kind of day.

    I’ve lost a false self-confidence in knowing the answers. (of course now, I feel like I’m a little too confident in not knowing the answers :P)
    I’ve lost a black and white world that was so easy to navigate.
    I’ve lost the security that a church where I fit in brings.
    I’ve lost the security that I (mostly) know what I’m doing as a parent brings.
    I’ve lost my pride in my knowledge. (not a bad thing to lose, but it still leaves me out of sorts….ends up as a lack of confidence most days)

    I’ve lost feeling like I could make friends easily. There seems to be this invisible barrier now, just by what I talk about or post on FB….like other women aren’t quite sure what to make of me, or how to respond to things I say. (otoh, I have deepened friendships with 3 women I’ve known for years who are like-minded..but who I don’t see very often).

    I’ve lost familiarity with family. Esp. my in-laws. They are super-conservative, and assume I am still that way…and so now I can’t talk about religion or politics, or any topic, really, with them….and it’s just a very uncomfortable situation. (there are other factors in that too, but being a progressive christian is the biggest cause)

    I feel like I’m drifting in the ocean, on my little island of Rob Bell and associates books…and I’m constantly scanning the horizon looking for other drifters…and it’s a very lonely voyage. I’ve been getting to know more people at church, and I met a new woman a couple weeks ago and we got to chatting, and talking about our interests, etc, and she said she liked to read, which I love to do. So then she says she loves the christian Amish romance books…and in my head, I’m crossing that island off of places to explore, LOL. Not that we can’t be friends, obviously. But it’s a lot different from being friendly with someone, and meeting someone your soul connects with.

    I think that’s my biggest loss….is just feeling isolated and alone. Feeling like I don’t fit in and am understood by most people.

    Reply
      • so many of us can relate to that feeling. loneliness hurts.

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    • thanks so much caris for your honesty. oh it’s brutal stuff we’re talking about. especially the loss of security and a sense of belonging. when certain relationships are right in our faces and we feel unsafe about sharing honestly, it can be even trickier. the isolation/loneliness is so rough; online does help, but it just isn’t the same, no question. thanks for processing here, it helps us all feel less alone.

      Reply
  • No wonder Rachel Held Evans is always giving you shoutouts and sending her readers here my friend!!!!! My losses are intertwined in having lost a ministry position as well as pursuing my education to be a minister/counselor due to a bad choice I made which cost me severely.

    I lost my sense of worth because of having to resign a ministry position.

    I lost my sense of being a respected leader because of issues I struggled with which caused me to lose my position.

    I lost my sense of knowing Gods presence freeing me from shame and guilt and filling me with grace and love.

    I lost an ability to see myself as others do, sins and all, and to not torture myself inside my own mind.

    Those are biggies i think of right now. Thank you for encouraging to share Kathy. It is sooooo incredibly healing and helping to see others share no matter what it might be.

    Reply
    • thanks for your honesty, robert. when we lose our ministry it is so painful and so many things get wrapped up into it. i am so glad i’ll get to see you in a few weeks in pdx!

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  • Wow. the losses. I thought I had dealt with that, but recently have had to look at it again – deeper. I recognize that a lot of what I lost was an illusion of what I thought it was, but I am also realizing that does not diminish the magnitude of the loss. What I mean by that is that the security I thought I had was a false security – illusion. The surety I thought I had was built on illusion.

    For me, the deconstruction and rebuilding process has been a bit (lot) tangled with family stuff. I grew up in an abusive denomination (or branch thereof) and an abusive, but very religious family. The illusions that had been built around each of these came crashing down together. I think they had to since they were constructed together.

    Because of that, I have lost both church and biological family. I have lost the attendant security and comfort (even if illusory) of both. I often describe to those few who are interested that it was like hitting a wall and having everything you thought was solid in your life – even your own history – shatter into a million pieces and you are left standing in a wide open empty place, disoriented and scared. Sometimes, 5 years down the road, I still feel like I’m there. Sometimes, the sensation is like you are free-falling without a chute and you have no idea where (or when) the ground is.

    I have been a little discouraged lately as I realized I have another layer of deconstruction in front of me. But there is no going back. You’re right – those who have not been through this process have no frame of reference for even understanding it. Hence the symptoms being described as demonic in source. BIG sigh.

    Reply
    • the symptoms being described as “demonic”….oh it was tough for me to hear that a few posts ago when you shared. one gift i really do cling to is when that line gets crossed and there truly is no going back. it’s horrible and scary and lonely, that reality, but in some ways it is a gift because it means we can only walk forward. you are so brave. really.

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  • i can hear the naysayers that harp on that tired cliche’ “just forget and move on, isn’t it about time you got over this”
    the idea that all our wounds are like a scraped knee, just a week and all better. i don’t think i am hanging on to the pain, but having to come to terms with a significant loss: my romantic dream of the church i believe i had read in the bible. i admit, i was starved as a child to feel special and saw my coming to faith as that path. and, as a new christian i was given it in spades! of course the tiny church was 50 strong on a good sunday and included 5 teens on a regular basis. i was known by young and old. i knew nothing of power or strategy.
    even being a part of building again that type of community, i find i am jaded and cautious and it makes me sad. just sad.

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    • oh yeah, that cliche is the worst. it does so much damage to so many. and there’s so much to be sad about, so much loss. thank you for sharing.

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  • I guess the biggest loss has been my ability to trust people. Even when I feel like I can 99% trust someone’s intentions, my trust in their *judgment* has been absolutely shot, because now I suspect everyone of working overtime to avoid seeing reality, so they can prop up one narrative or another in their heads.

    If the leaders credited with the most “spiritual maturity” can twist the Scripture they claim to hold in high respect, so that it always works out to their favor, and appear to feel *good* about doing it… if it’s so ingrained in *them* that it’s what they expect everyone else to be doing… if trying my best to be objective is somehow selfish and sinful because it fails to present the proper show of self-denigration… how can I trust anyone to know what the hell they’re talking about anything?

    In a way, it’s made me feel better about trusting my own judgment by comparison. If I’m not the scum of the earth who looks up to everyone by default, then my two cents might be worth something sometimes.

    So maybe that’s the bigger loss. The opportunity cost of wasting the first few decades of my life distrusting myself, when I should have been distrusting everybody else. Not so that I could think ill of everyone — so that I could think enough of myself to actually try, to risk, to live.

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    • that trust in people–especially leadership–is such a common theme. i tell people all of the time: “don’t trust me. it’s not good for you to implicitly trust me, especially after you have already given all of your chips over to others over time and lost them all.” part of healing and getting a sense of our own strength & power is to not turn ourselves over to others’ authority blindly. it’s not healthy but it’s what we are “taught” in most all of the systems we are in. real trust comes over the long, long haul of practicing safety, learning love and what it means to be in a healthier relationship. i love what you are saying about learning to trust yourself, but so relate to how hard it is when we’ve been taught to distrust it for so many years. thanks for sharing.

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  • Through my religious experience I lost:
    *my adolescence
    *trust in my own intuition
    *peace
    *freedom to have opinions, desires, and a sense of self
    *a sense of connection with all people, regardless of their beliefs
    *freedom, freedom, freedom
    *a real understanding of unconditional love
    *a sense of independence, competence, and strength, particularly as a woman, but also just as a person
    (Ok, I could go on for a long time with this one)

    Through losing my faith, I lost:
    *my whole framework for understanding the world
    *my entire adult career and childhood dream for my life
    *a sense of being loved by God
    *all the things I knew how to do, like pray, or comfort myself, or encourage myself, or experience God
    *trust in all the good things that were built through my Christian life
    community, community, community (no longer trusting those in the church, but knowing that I might as well be from Mars as far as people outside the church understanding where I’m coming from)
    *knowing what would make me a good parent
    *other people’s trust in me (aren’t all my choices now colored by the “slippery slope” I started down?)
    *my voice–I used to feel like I had valuable things to say when I felt like I resonated with others
    *feeling like a “good person” (which is ironic, because I did not feel like a good person as a Christian–I felt constantly condemned, but at least I felt like I was on the “inside.” Now I feel a lot more secure in my heart, but I feel “bad” because I know I’m an outsider now.)
    (ok, I could go on on this one too.)
    It’s so encouraging to see others sharing so many of the same things I feel. Thanks, Kathy, and thanks all!

    Reply
    • thank you so much for your brave & raw honesty. so many of the same themes. rough, rough stuff, but yes, it sure does help to know we’re in good company. much love and hope from colorado.

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  • I know that this is a post written a while ago… but I feel like it would be a safe place to admit some of my losses…

    I lost my sister… she died… She was not miraculously healed…

    I lost how to teach my children about God… a bunch of memory verses and various Sunday school type crafts just don’t cut … or maybe that is the beginning of their journey and I should honour that.

    I lost my ability to ride others coat tails… for this I am grateful…

    I lost my unquestioning faith… but in that have gained deeper relationship and conversation with my husband who is a chronic questioner.

    I have lost deep conversations and relationships with others though… mostly because I fear putting them through the gut wrenching hurt questons and doubt can bring…

    I have gained as well though… I have gained compassion… I have gained an ability to weigh decisions based on the most loving choice and not the most popular… I have become more inclusive of others.

    Reply
    • thanks, sarah, for sharing some of your losses. that’s what this space is for. i love that in the midst of these losses you can see some of what you gained. beautiful.

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  • I’m a late comer to this party too, but I really want to process as I make my way through the series 🙂

    ~ I lost my mask – the “good Christian” image I presented. It may have been suffocating, but I miss my safe place to hide from disapproval and judgement.

    ~ I lost hearing over and over again how “pleased” God was with me. No one says that anymore – I think they’re afraid I’ve drifted far from His approval.

    ~ I’ve lost my certainty, my answers, my security that I had it figured out. I’ve lost my place as a leader and an example that others looked up to.

    ~ I’ve lost my sure and certain way to make sure my kids are “in”. I still believe so much for them and have such hope for them, but I’ve lost the easy-peasy blueprint for them to follow.

    ~ I’ve lost friendships. I’ve also realized that a lot of relationships I once defined as friendships were really more like agendas. This one breaks my heart.

    ~ I’ve lost really knowing what I was about and being so sure I was on the right track. I also feel like I’ve lost time and energy investing in things that I’m no longer certain were worthwhile – and missed opportunities to invest in things that probably mattered more.

    Thanks for starting this conversation, Kathy. It’s good to be pushed to think this through. I have to say I am so ready to heal and for God to walk me through this to somewhere new.. just wish we could get there with a little less feeling like a mixed up lonely fool along the way!
    Daisha

    Reply
    • thanks, daisha, never late around here 🙂 there is something really healing even though it’s hard to say these things out loud. oh how i know that longing for an easier way somehow or to feel less like a ‘mixed up lonely fool’, but i am starting to think there’s no full way around it. except for maybe to remember we’re not the only mixed up lonely fools. holy smokes, there are a lot of us.

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  • I too am a late comer as I just found your blog last night. WOW!! You have put words to the place I’ve been trapped in for the last 9 months. We were told by our Pastor to either submit to what was going on in our church or to move on…we acquiesed and moved on. The loss has been nothing short of debilitating. I would like to acknowledge some of the losses I have experienced. * My church * My church family * My closest friends & Mentors (who just so happened to be our Pastor and his wife) * The ministries the Lord blessed and entrusted to me (worship leader, pastoral counselor, lay leader) * My Ordination (along with my counseling certification) * My security * My identity (knowing who I am in Christ) * Trust in my own judgment regarding my faith* My world has changed dramatically. Often times I don’t know where to turn or who to trust. The very beliefs that were foundational to my faith and my existance have been altered and some have dissipated completely. I had walked very close to the Pastor in ministry and had endured many hurts and hardships as a result, but nothing compares to what I am experiencing now. I’m shattered, wounded, and weary.

    Reply
    • lisa, thank you so much for your honesty. it is so hard to go through what you are going through. you are so not alone but it sure can feel like it. “debilitating” is the right word. it can be so paralyzing and crushing to lose so much, so painfully. i am glad you found these posts and if you think being part of the walking wounded class could be helpful, email me and i’ll make sure you know when the next one is going on (probably sometime later in the fall). peace and hope from colorado. my heart hurts with you.
      —————————————-

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  • I just found this. In college almost 20 years ago, I stopped going to church because I couldn’t stand the answers they gave me. Then, after taking a Bible study leadership class, I found I couldn’t lead it. My faith wasn’t strong enough. I told them, and THEY JUST LET ME GO. I never saw them again, since I had nothing to offer them. I had so many questions. So many ways I was questioning my faith in God. In Hell. The young faith community had no answers for me. They just gave me the answers I had received my whole life. I went to a few church services, found a church that helped me think…but realize now that while I agonized about God, I didn’t even know how to begin an exploration of God. It felt like a very personal thing that the church couldn’t help with. I hid my doubt. I stopped going to church because I didn’t believe. And, I finally just had to stop worrying about my lack of faith. Now, 20 years later, married to a wonderful husband who has absolutely no interest in any God…and I have beautiful babies. And, now I see what I lost. But I don’t see how I could ever get back, especially since I refuse to throw my marriage away.
    Things that I lost:
    –Community, community, community
    –Friends that I haven’t been able to bring myself to talk to for years, because they wouldn’t understand
    –My mother’s confidence–She is so sad, especially since I now have children. I am so sad, I wish she could understand. But, she just worries that I’ll go to hell.
    –my image as a good girl (I only care about this to make my parents happy, really)
    I am so sure that there are manyother things. But, right now, my main focus is on community, and my mother’s feeling that she has failed. Her concern that I am going to hell. My realization that I cannot go back without damaging my relationship with the man who loves my children so much. Where to go from here? All I know is that for the first time in many years, I am open to question. To going new directions. I envy those who believe in God. I envy those with strong community. Who feel centered and spiritual. For the first time in many years, I do feel that I may be spiritual. But, what does that mean?
    Someone told me recently that we are all on a spiritual journey, and that everyone’s journey is different. I felt free when I heard that. I felt transformed and full of hope. I cling to that.

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    • nancy, thank you so much for your honesty and sharing your story. i am glad you found your way here somehow and oh, you are in good company. those are a lot of losses, and anything related to community/relationship/family are extra hard. i wonder if at some point the “exploring possibilities” piece of this process might be helpful to at least consider. one thing that is so clear to me is that we can never go back but we can often go forward in new ways that maybe we would have thought crazy or dumb years ago but now are the thing that brings a little more life to us. i so appreciate you taking time to share here and hope it can be a safe space as you process. peace from colorado.

      Reply
  • Thanks for the posts – I found a link to this through a comment on another blog and am appreciating being among like-minded company. The loss is something I’ve only acknowledged/thought about when specific things have come up, but I’ve never really sat down and contemplated/listed. An interesting, albeit difficult, exercise. What have I lost?

    -a place to meet people and develop friendships, and something to connect over
    -much of my identity: so much of my life revolved around my christianity
    -relationships and community
    -a sense of security and the ability to have answers and certainty
    -a god i could talk to and ask things of (or blame things on)
    -a book to read, and the desire to read it
    -trust in anyone who labels themself as a christian
    -the ability to listen to ‘christian’ or ‘worship’ music without rolling my eyes/cringing/getting angry (or even the ability to go to a church service without these)
    -not feeling angry and betrayed
    -a sense of joy that came from purpose and connection
    -knowing how to think about the world and other people
    -knowing what to say/do when something bad happens (“I’ll pray for you”)
    -a sense of what is right and wrong (such as sex and abortion)
    -positive reinforcement
    -knowing what I want to do with my life, and how/what I should teach (my) kids
    -knowing where to go for help
    -a sense of belonging and being understood
    -a “safe” place I could always count on, where I trusted leaders and had mentors
    -knowing how to be ‘good’
    -a definition and clear-cut answer of what a christian is and how it should be lived out
    -clear-cut answers, in general!
    -and most/worst of all, I’ve lost faith and hope

    …it’s hard to not try to turn these things by putting a positive spin on. But, I need to live in this loss and acknowledge its hurt and the pain because of it. Because it’s a tremendously long list, and in order to be able to live in and accept this new reality of my life, I need to try to embrace it.

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  • “the comfort of certainty, damn i miss it sometimes.” yes. (I am loving this series…thank you.)

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  • – close and direct communication from a God. I used to really feel guided by God but now I feel distant and I can’t hear him like I used to.

    – Having an answer for theological questions. Now I’m using the phrase “I don’t know” a lot and I like the honest of it, but miss giving people what they want to hear.

    -having people look up to me for spiritual guidance.

    – having convictions and allowing them to give me passion and motivation to take action.

    – security

    – feeling a sense of calling. Now I feel kinda lost.

    Reply

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