rebuilding after deconstructing: 7. exploring possibilities

blog exploring possibilitiesthis is the second-to-last installment of 7 major movements in rebuilding after deconstructing. tomorrow will be a wrap post, which is really the 8th–“trusting the path.” then early next week i want to brainstorm a few helpful lists together (it will be fun, i promise!).

the other posts from the past 2 weeks are listed here.  

* * * * *

one of the hardest parts about writing a series this-packed-full-of-intensity is that everyone is in a different place.  some of us have already found our way & feel free-er than we’ve ever felt before.  others are only beginning to realize we’re at the wall  & don’t know what the $^$&#@ it might mean for the future.  others are worn out & tired & feel really “done” at the moment and really don’t want to talk about this right now.

i say this as yet another warning when reading this post. for some of you, you’re just not ready to think about new possibilities yet.  please know the last thing i want to do is make people feel pressured.  we don’t all have to be at the place of being ready to “explore possibilities.” this shifting process take time; it’s important to not rush and expect ourselves to get to some imaginary finish line fast.  that will mess our heads and hearts up even more.  so as you’re reading today, know that it’s totally okay if you’re not in this particular space at the moment.

but some people are. 

one of the hardest things for many deconstructors to do is to plug back into some form of community.  see, even saying that word is making a few of you have an allergic reaction!  the thought of risking again, trusting again, trying again, engaging again just feels too overwhelming.  you’ve been there, done that, and so why bother.

i totally get that.

but it might help if we begin to widen our view of what community & connection might look like.   as we do that, we can begin to explore possibilities.  

community & connection with other people of hope might look like:

re-attaching to a safe church–or never darkening the door of a church again but finding hope through a small cluster of friends dedicated to each other.  

joining a group and remaining firmly on the fringes–or trying to plug in and serve again, with eyes wide open and hearts a little more aware. 

being part of something that doesn’t have a lick to do with anything overtly spiritual–or finding a clearly sacred place for intentional spiritual practices. 

working with people directly connected to our newly-ignited passion–or in a completely different context.  

part of rebuilding & renewal is an openness to new possibilities for community & connection.

there are a few things to be aware of as we explore new possibilities:

it has to be when we’re ready, not when someone else thinks we should be.  this is so important!

experiments help.  i’m a big fan of “let’s try this and see what it feels like.”  we can enter into some of these experiences more loosely & not hold ourselves to feeling like we have to commit to anything.  i love the idea of “for this next season i’m going to experiment with…” and then have a time to evaluate how it went, how it felt, what it opened us up to.

we don’t have to give all our power away again.  it’s okay to be part of stuff without being “all in”.  it’s okay to disagree with some things but be okay with others.  it’s okay to guard our hearts and at the same time open them a little.  it’s okay to be skeptical about leadership & power but still take part. it doesn’t make us cynical; it makes us wise.

let go of old definitions of “church”.  if we hold on to old preconceptions, it will really hijack possibilities, especially if we’re toast when it comes to typical systems.   small or big, formal or informal, regular or sporadic, christian or non-christian, there are all kinds of ways to be with other people and be part of “church.”

listen to triggers but be careful about making quick decisions based on them.  part of our maturity is developing listening skills for our gut feelings of what is really going on.  as we explore new possibilities for connection & community, we need to better listen to the Holy Spirit-working-in-us.  at the same time, when we’ve been in toxic systems or are still really raw, every little thing can feel triggering.  it’s easy to say “well, we’re for sure not ready to explore new possibilities yet” and even though that could be true, it can also be true that we’re really sensitive about certain things (for good reason).  i never want to say “ignore the triggers and push through” but i do want to say “explore your triggers and don’t make reflex decisions based on them.”  talk about it with safe friends, get wise input.

ease in, don’t rush.  sometimes when we’re lonely & desperate & tired and long so deeply for connection and stability again, we can dive in too fast, too hard. don’t. it’s not good for us.  take time to live on the fringes a little.  don’t volunteer for too much too soon.  trust that healthy systems & groups & people won’t be in a hurry.

overall, when considering new possibilities to explore, i really like the words “practice” and “try.”  they’ve helped me become a little more balanced and not so black-and-white.  these words help us remember we don’t need everything mastered or figured out or buttoned down; rather, we can do our best to show up, engage as best we can for the moment, and continue to learn, adjust, re-evaluate, and grow.

over time, may our hearts be open to new possibilities.

what are some new possibilities you are trying (or want) to explore? 

* * * * *

tomorrow:  the wrap, whew! –  trusting the path.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

6 Comments

  • First, I want to say I have thoroughly enjoyed this series of posts. A friend directed me to your blog and it has been spot on for me. I’m at the point where I am exploring new possibilities after a massive deconstruction (emotionall and spiritually). I made a conscious decision last year to stop going to church – not because I was offended by something – but I wanted to go to church when I wanted to go, not because it was something that I’ve always done since I was in my mother’s womb. I haven’t had the desire to go back, but I have been craving community. I tried to set up a monthly brunch group with some friends, but it didn’t quite work. I’m making deliberate plans to meet with friends on a regular basis and hopefully a circle of friends may be restarting a small group we had previously. Another way I’m staying connected is I’ve started a centering prayer practice. One piece of this practice is to stay in community, either meeting with a prayer group on a regular basis. This has been very powerful experience for me. And I’m a part of a Facebook group that is going through an online e-course and I’ve been encouraged and held accountable to certain goals I have put into place. Lastly, finding your blog has also helped me see that I’m not alone in the spiritual awakening process and is providing much validation as I move further along in my rebuilding.

    Reply
    • i love hearing stories like yours. thank you so much for sharing. i have so much respect for what it costs but then so much hope for what it brings. thank you for sharing and much peace and hope to you as you keep finding your way. glad you are here. i hope you’ll consider commenting next week on a few of the questions about helpful/not-so-helpful & also practices-that-sustained because i think you’ll have a lot to share

      Reply
  • Based on the number of comments on this post, I’m guessing most of us find it easier to deconstruct than to rebuild. There’s like almost nobody out there to help us rebuild. The only ideas we have heard on the topic could be summed up “Get over it. Find a good church and get plugged in,” to which I want to reply, “Get over it. Just admit you’re a moron and shouldn’t be giving bad advice to people.”

    We don’t “go to church”. We “are the church”. Being the church looks like lots of thing for lots of people. Our experience is not the norm. There is no norm. But we try to plug in to people.

    Here’s some of what church has looked for us this week and what we have planned in the next week: Care for the neighbor’s two dogs so she can go out of state to attend a relatives wedding. One dog is old and needs special care and shots twice daily. The other one is borderline vicious. This weekend we’re hosting a visitor from out-of-state who needs a place to stay, and after we take him to the airport we’ll get together with a friend to pick up garbage and talk to people in the inner city. Then on to planning and hosting a Cinco de Mayo party for neighbors and others we care about, followed by visiting some of our homeless friends.

    Mad as hell at churches? Hate Christians? Got a religious question you were always afraid to ask? Come on over. We’d love to have you and you’ll be treated with love.

    Reply
    • ha, ha, i thought the same thing. well, it is like taking years and years of work and putting into 9 blog posts in 2 weeks, too! but it is interesting. and hoping that over time, more and more “possibilities” break open for many. there are so many possibilities. always love hearing about the freedom that you have found.

      Reply
  • I’ve finally caught up to this desolate, lonely post with its crickets chirping and tumbleweeds rolling by 🙂
    I get it, though. This one’s hard.
    For me, it’s a hard step to think about mostly because it just makes me so, so tired. The phrase in the comment above “get plugged in” is exactly what comes to my mind when I think of reconnecting with a community. In the past, it’s been a trick – a trap. “I just want to make sure you guys are getting plugged in.” has been revealed to mean, “I want to use you for my agenda.” And so getting “getting plugged in” has become “getting plugged into” – and it feels like this big parasite coming along to suck all the life out of me. And there’s just not much left. I know that sounds harsh, and it isn’t entirely true at least at the level of people’s intentions. But, it is true to how it makes me feel and it’s true to why thinking about joining community again is hard.

    What I love about what you wrote, though – where I find it to be so freeing is in the ideas of redefining what it can look like and having permission to practice and try. Your voice is one of opposition to the dominant noise in my head telling me that it’s all or nothing. I know that to live the kind of life I dream about living the answer can’t be nothing, but we’re also at a place where we definitely can’t handle ALL. So, thanks for saying that it can be whatever it needs to be. That is freedom and truth for me.

    Reply
  • Like many who have already commented, I wanted to say that I’m thankful for this series. A good friend who is also on this journey pointed me to it. She seems to be in the rebuilding phase and has pointed me to different resources along the way. I feel that I am still in deconstruction, but am curious about rebuilding.
    What I miss most is community and corporate worship. However, the thought of trying to find a church (to then find community) is tiring and frustrating. I want “it” whatever that is, but I feel the moment I even begin to look my heart starts to race and I’m emotionally exhausted before I even step out the door!
    What I’m starting to realize is that I just need to rest. To be. To find what works in this moment. That’s hard when you’re craving something that you know can exist. The list of what to be aware of as we begin to explore the possibilities hits on some key things for me. Letting go of old definitions and listening to triggers but being careful not to make quick decisions based on them. Those are the things (the latter in particular) that remind me that I’m not ready, despite how ready I want to be. It’s going to take time and that’s ok. Not always easy to do, but ok to do.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.