I first decided to review this book not because of the title or content, but because of the author, Kathy Escobar. I recognized her name from another book on my “to read” list, Down We Go. In a world of climbing the business/social/christian ladder, I felt like I needed to read a book like that to balance myself out, and to remind myself of what following Jesus could look like in a today’s world kind of way.
So, I thought, if Kathy wrote a book like THAT, then this Faith Shift one should probably be pretty good.
Oh and it is. Kathy writes this book for those who are going through a faith shift, meaning what was once comfortable and comforting to you (your church tradition, your core beliefs, your relationship to Jesus, etc.) no longer is. Perhaps it was caused by a slow drift, or maybe something significant happened, but whatever the reason, you find yourself asking a whole lot of questions and having way less answers than you used to.
My favorite thing about this book is Kathy’s ability to explain the spiritual formation process and to normalize it. For many of us, we’ve learned that questions can be dangerous. Have you ever asked a question in a group of people and immediately get shot down because “we will never know the answer” or because “that’s a question that can cause doubt?” I have, and it’s an incredibly uncomfortable feeling. But, what I’ve learned over these past couple years is that questions are actually signs of a growing faith. In fact, it’s an odd thing that it has become so taboo these days, because many of our church mothers and fathers knew that it was a common stage in one’s spiritual formation (p 20).
Kathy breaks down the process into a few sections:
- Fusing: This is where you first become a Christian and everything is so fantastic. You are soaking up Scripture, you are having incredible worship experiences, you are learning so much and things make so. much. sense.
- Shifting: Something happens in how we relate to God or the church (p. 38). “We hit a significant spiritual barrier and things stop working in the ways we are used to. Our connection with God wanes, and we can’t seem to pray. Our hearts begin to feel dead. We start to feel resentful. We stop caring about church, and events and programs lose their attraction. We notice inconsistencies in leadership and theology that never occurred to us before. We become ambivalent, apathetic, or feel hints of anger and fear in deep places of our soul.”
- Unraveling: Also known as deconstruction. Lots of questions. Lots of ranges of feelings. I liken this to what many church mothers and fathers have described as a spiritual wilderness. Henri Nouwen. St. John of the Cross. Mother Theresa.
- Severing: This is when people cut their ties and walk away. Fortunately, not everyone does this, but it certainly happens.
- Rebuilding: The slow, careful process of rebuilding your faith.
She goes into depth in each area, sharing her own story as well as stories of others she has interviewed. She provides some ideas for soul care as people are moving through each stage, and is careful to honor where people are at in their faith.
People, parts of this book served as water for my soul. I underlined. I starred. I journaled. I even talked out loud while reading it at times.
I had a hard time identifying with other parts of the book, but that’s okay because it probably means those parts aren’t really written for me. I think readers should be aware that she is pretty inclusive, so if this is something that really bothers you, then you probably don’t need this book. 🙂
I also think this is an important book for people to read who love someone who is going through a faith shift. As I was reading, I not only reflected on myself, but I also began to understand past friends more. I would read something and say, “Ohhhh. I see. I understand now what they meant when they said _________.”)
So, not for everyone, but essential to others!
You can learn more about Kathy at her website, www.kathyescobar.com.
Thanks to Blogging for Books for this complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review!