So there we were, staring at the giant mass of boulders. We sat for a long time.
Some days I felt scared. I didn’t want to lose my faith, but I didn’t want to carry the heavy burden of my faith anymore either. Don’t get me wrong- my faith up until this point had been absolutely real. But I felt like the place where I was standing was dropping out from under me. As this faith shift was happening, I think I knew there was no going back to where I had been before.
Everything on the outside looked the same. I’m a rule-follower by nature and couldn’t bring myself to stop doing the things that had helped me to feel connected with God in the past, even if they weren’t working now. I was convinced that I had just gotten out of habit in my spiritual disciplines, and if I could just get back to doing what I knew to do, it’d all fix itself.
We went to church.
We served at a church.
We were in a small group.
I read Scripture.
I participated in conferences.
I read a gazillion Christian books, hoping I’d find “the one” that would help pull me out of this funk.
Nothing. Just nothing. The boulders remained.
The day before we moved from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, an older couple who were sort of mentors in our life gave us a book as a going-away present: When Life and Beliefs Collide: How Knowing God Makes a Difference by Carolyn Custis James. At the time I thought it was an odd book to be receiving. Turns out these friends of ours saw something in my heart that I hadn’t fully realized yet. I suspect because they had been through it before. It was the great foreshadowing (it’s funny how things happen like this).
Soon after moving to Wisconsin, I was at a very critical point, and so I sought out a spiritual director. She met with me on a monthly basis and let me process all of this junk as she prayed and listened. Her presence and prayers and words were a true gift to me, perhaps the kindest gift I’ve ever been given. She assured me that what I was going through was not only perfectly normal, but a sign of promise. More about this later.
At the same time, I came across Kathy Escobar’s book, Faith Shift. It was my manna. Kathy shared stories of people all over the country who were going through the same thing as me. Here I was, thinking I was all alone and some kind of Christian failure. In the pages of her book, Kathy taught me about the stages of faith development, and that I had options of how I could respond to this juncture in my faith. I’ll talk about this tomorrow.
For those of you in the midst of a faith shift, I recommend 2 things:
- Read Kathy Escobar’s book, Faith Shift (my review here).
- Find a spiritual director, an unbiased person who has no skin in your game, and who if gifted in discernment and has been trained in spiritual direction.