i used to….but now i….

blog i used to but now ii loved all those responses to yesterday’s soul care & spiritual practices during deconstruction!  so many healing practices; thank you for sharing and feel free to still add yours.

the other day when i was driving in my car thinking about this series, an old post that i wrote 3 years ago came to mind.  it’s called “i-used-to-but-now-i”. i thought it actually might be a helpful exercise as part of our conversation on rebuilding after deconstructing because it’s centered on respecting where we were and where we are now.

it’s about recognizing & giving language to some of the new.  it’s honoring shifts and helps us say “here’s what’s changed.”

it’s funny, my list from 2009 is so long, but as i looked through it many things still resonated, although maybe not as important to me today as they were then.  as part of this practice, i decided to make a new list, some are from 3 years ago and there are definitely some new ones, too.  i thought maybe some of you might want to give it a try, too.

my 2012 i used to…but now i’s…:

i used to have a fear-centered faith.  now i have a love-centered one.

i used to think the christian life was one of ascent & i kept feeling like a loser because i couldn’t get there. now i think it looks more like descent & it takes away the pressure.

i used to think church was about getting what i wanted–inspiration & wow.   now i think it’s about getting what i actually need–a place to practice loving & being loved.  

i used to feel the need for things to be black and white and make perfect sense. now i really appreciate the gray & the mystery of the “i don’t knows.”

i used to think people could pull themselves up by their bootstraps & change their lives with enough prayer and hard work. now i see how truly complicated poverty, mental illness, and a host of other problems really are.

i used to think that if i talked about God enough & my kids could regurgitate enough scripture verses i’d be a good parent. now i see our actions are far more important than words.

i used to be two people, one on the outside & one on the inside.  now there’s just one of me, with all my strengths & all my weaknesses.   

i used to read the Bible for knowledge.  now i read it for beauty & challenge.  

i used to never even notice the lack of women and underrepresented groups in church leadership. now i can see and smell it from a mile away.

i used to hold on to everything and so tightly.  now i’m trying to practice a looser grip. 

i used to think the kingdom of God was really really narrownow i think it’s bigger than i ever imagined.

i used to spend a lot of energy shaking my fists. now i am most interested in planting new trees.  

what are some of your “i used to…but now i’s…?”

i’d love to hear!



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.


  • I used to think it was my job to make sure that sinners understood how angry God was with their sin by showing them that I (also) didn’t approve of their beliefs or lifestyle, now I realize that it’s not my job to even judge that they are sinners.

  • I used to want people to think I had it all together, now I want to show my true self to people so we can have a real conversation.

    I used to crave excitement and an emotional high, now I crave stillness and substance.

    Thank you so much for this series, Kathy. It’s been wonderful.

    • thanks emily. i really relate to both of yours. so glad you’ve been here for this series.

  • Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

    So, so many are relatable to me …

    The last six months for me have been completely about this exact thing …

    “i used to think the kingdom of God was really really narrow. now i think it’s bigger than i ever imagined.”

    I used to think I needed to “reach out” to those who are marginalized, overlooked, oppressed … Now I know that I am one of us who make up that group … There is no reaching out or reaching down …only finding myself alongside’, both giving and receiving.

    • that shift that breaks down the divide between us and them is such a glorious one…..

  • Kathy…this is so beautiful, encouraging and refreshing. Thank you so much! Mar’s statement “I used to think I needed to “reach out” to those who are marginalized, overlooked, oppressed … Now I know that I am one of us who make up that group … There is no reaching out or reaching down …only finding myself alongside’, both giving and receiving.” And all of Kathy’s statements, especially “i used to think the kingdom of God was really really narrow. now i think it’s bigger than i ever imagined.” brings tears to my eyes! so profound…Thank you

    • laurie, so much gratitude for what you bring here. really. it’s always so encouraging.

  • I used to deny, deny, deny, my pain, now I am learning to integrate the truth of it into my story.

    I used to think that if I shared my weaknesses, it would push people far away. Now I see that it exponetially draws others closer.

    I used to think that my perception of God as distant, and uninterested in me was accurate. Now I am willing to see that maybe, my woundedness has clouded my filter, and may be worth looking at.

    I used to think that I was so independent that I needed nothing, now I am learning the beauty that is community

    I used to think that surrender meant weakness, now I see it as taking more strength than I realized

    I used to think that my *true self* was not loveable, now I am starting to feel really, really cared for in the depth of my being.

  • I used to think that loving people meant that I had to try to fix them, now I realize that all I need to do is listen.

  • I used to drive my car 100 miles a day, now I take the bus & save so much $$$ on gas
    I used to buy meat full price, now I buy in the day later bin on sale & it tastes better because I saved
    I used to mow my grass with a gas mower, now I use a push mower & it’s great exercise
    I used to collect so much stuff, now I am giving away as much I can & I have wonderful peace
    I used to think I didn’t need recovery the rest of my life, now I love going to my meetings every week…Thank you God!

    Thanks Kathy!

  • Hi Kathy, again you have written something that resonates so deeply with me and our wee group over in Northern Ireland that we are going to spend some time as a group to discuss and charting our spiritual journey to date individually and maybe even as a group. I have posted a link to this on our blog if that is ok with you again.

    Grace and Peace.

    Oh and here are some responces ,
    I used to put conditions on my love for others, now I am endeavouring to love freely as He loves me.
    I used to feel driven to earn acceptance by being busy, no I am learning the greece of contentment.
    I used to think titles/position gave me value, now I understand I am valuable (full stop)

    • thanks stuart, love it, that you guys are processing this together. makes me happy. thank you for sharing.

  • I used to define myself in oppositions; now I’m trying to define myself in relations.

    I used to need to assert my faith; now I’m learning to trust it.

    I used to see this whole thing as stone tablets; now I see it as heirloom seeds.

    Faith used to be the capstone in need of holding up; now it’s a cornerstone that needs building on. (Pity about the transition from one to the other, but that’s what this whole series was about; and for that I thank you.)

    …also, what Mar said way up there at the top.

    There are more, but I’ll blog them later rather than delay now.

    • so beautiful, thanks for sharing. especially love this: “i used to need to assert my faith; now i’m learning to trust it.”

  • “i used to feel the need for things to be black and white and make perfect sense. now i really appreciate the gray & the mystery of the “i don’t knows.””

    My problem is things no longer appear black and white or make perfect sense, yet I haven’t figured out how to appreciate the gray and the mystery. I was way more comfortable when I thought I had it all figured out, but I don’t think I could go back even if I wanted to.

    • thanks, bryan, yeah, living in the gray can feel very disorienting and disconcerting. losing that black/white is hard because it really did protect from some of this pain.

    • Bryan – I, too, have real difficulty seeing things in black and white anymore. Can’t do it. But, the gray compromise doesn’t really work for me either. Maybe I see stripes.


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