Upside down. Spinning. Disoriented. Confused. Everything I thought I knew about God and the church, well just doesn't make sense anymore. My solid footing is no longer there. Everything I was raised to believe and trust in, totally wrecked. My faith in a God that I once knew up close and personal barely exists. The disciplines I once held, no longer work for me. The very cause I have given my whole life to....My whole life to....is now destroyed. And since I started this blog just a few weeks ago, my email, voicemail, and texts have been blowing up with people who have the same story and my heart aches. Especially the stories from other PK's. I mean it really gets to me deep in my guts. We live our entire lives in a glass house, often times even as adults. (there are of course exceptions) Very few escape that lifestyle and if they do, it's usually because they've been burned so bad by the church that they just flat don't have anything to do with Christianity. Understood, and no one blames them for that.
Spiritual shifting isn't just for some elite group. Unfortunately it's more common than you think. It's happening alot in the Western Church. Matter of fact, it's devastating the Western Church. Murdering it. What's worse is that some Christians act "surprised" at this. Seriously? The building of man made empires for prosperity preachers, ludicrous teachings from spiritual leaders, one scandal after another in the headlines. How about we scale that down some....how about the things that go on in the regular everyday run of the mill church? The amount of spiritual abuse going on is staggering, the hypocrisy that is allowed to run rampant is staggering, the politics that people endure, the gossip and slander, the power struggle between pastors and board members....all these things build up and eventually devastate lives and send people, good people, innocent people on a downward spiral.
So what do you do in times like this? What do you do, when you have served the Christian community for years only to have the people you trusted most, and looked up to and respected turn on you? What do you do when everything you once knew and felt about God is ripped out from under your feet? Because the truth of the matter is, sometimes it DOES happen. It is very real. People absolutely do lose their faith in times of spiritual shifting. It's hard not to. Some peoples response is this "Quit blaming the Church for everything. We are only human ya know." Or how about this one "Grow up and get over it!" That one just pisses me off. I actually have a friend going through a shift right now, who received an email from a "sister in Christ" who actually said those words to her. I saw it with my own eyes...Sickening.
Now I understand some people won't be able to relate to what I'm saying. That's okay. We all have different experiences. Some of you reading this, have probably already flipped out. So let me make myself extremely clear on 2 issues.
1. I am NOT an advocate for blaming the church for a total loss of faith. I advocate personal responsibility and anyone who truly knows me, knows that is how I live my life. I am however an advocate for Accountability. I do believe that the "Church" will be held accountable for it's part in the countless number of people who have lost their faith.
2. I am NOT against the Institution of Church. I believe it is an important part of the Christian faith. Although I had a devastating experience in a church, not all church experiences are that way. I have been a member of several churches, not just one, and there are some very good churches in the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people and communities. If there was a church I felt comfortable going to right now, I totally would.
OK, so what do you do when you are the one who is shifting? I do have some advice for you. Here are a few things that I have learned along the way, that have helped me in the hardest parts of this journey.
1. Get used to opposition.
Honestly, your loved ones don't mean to come off on the defensive. Keep in mind that they aren't used to hearing you talk like this. They really don't know how to respond to our unedited and at times extremely raw conversations. That in turn makes us feel misunderstood. Extend grace to them just like you want them to do for you.
2. Embrace and Trust the process.
This is a process with many different facets. Let yourself go through each and every stage of your process. An example, for me, I didn't realize the overwhelming amount of loss I suffered...friendships, my ministry reputation, family relationships, all the things that once held me secure. I wayyyyy underestimated how difficult losing those things would be. Sometimes interactions with people, or situations, still tap into how much I've lost and I find myself bawling over such encounters. Time helps with this one...a lot. So let the process have it's way.
3. Look for things that survived.
I have a responsibility to dig through my devastated life and find the things that remain...and so do you. When we aren't sure anymore about our faith and what we believe, it's easy to want to throw everything out and start over. I'm telling you right now, it's not that easy! Look for things that made it through the destruction. Trust me, there are things that made it. For me, my belief that there is a God still remains and some days that's all I have. I do believe in the Bible but most days it's hard for me to read it.
My point here is, what's something you still believe in? Doesn't matter how big or how small.
I think you will find, no matter how much destruction has happened, no matter how upside down you feel, there are just some things that cannot be taken away from you. You might have to dig deep, really deep, I did. But it's worth it! Most spiritual things are dead in my life....but a few things made it. And that gives me Hope.
These are just a couple things that have tremendously helped me.
Ahhhhh....Change is so hard. Some days I still have a hard time knowing which direction is up. Truthfully most days I'm still spinning...and it's been almost 3 years since my shift began. I've learned there is no quick fix. I've learned that I'm not alone. I've learned what is truly important in life, And I am happy. Sometimes you do get second chances, and sometimes you don't. It's important to keep moving forward...don't stop growing, learning, and loving.
Maybe someday I'll have it all figured out. Eh, maybe I won't.