Much of modern Christianity has been firmly built on “absolute truth” and conformity of beliefs. Many Christians have begun to experience a shift in how to relate to God and the church. We hit a barrier. Things stop working in the ways we’re used to. We notice inconsistencies in leadership and theology that never occurred to us before. We start to experience spiritual vertigo.
Do you ever ask the questions like, “Why am I a Christian? Do I really believe in God? Is my whole life of faith a sham? Why have I given myself over to the church for years when it has consistently used me? How could I ever have believed some of the things I have been taught? Am I a blind sheep, following the herd from desperation to belong?”
Do you ever feel like your faith is unraveling as you realize your list of “I don’t know’s” is growing? Does the world no longer seem as black and white to you? If not, or if you have no patience for people who ask these questions or feel these things, skip this post. If so, keep reading!
Kathy Escobar (pastor, writer, advocate, speaker, and spiritual director in North Denver) defines the questioning of the systems to which we previously happily subscribed as a “faith shift”. Some common experiences of faith shifters include:
- A background in a faith system of very clear rules and expectations for participants,
- A significant shift in your relationship with God and/or the church,
- Uncertainty about whom to trust with your thoughts and emotions,
- Discomfort in once-welcoming communities and groups,
- Fear that maybe you are the problem, that you are wrong, sinful, or deceived.
In her book Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart, Escobar discusses her flexible model of the faith shifting process based on her observations of the stages that faith shifters tend to experience and shows that the shift is a progression. She explains the spiritual journey in terms of fusing, shifting, and unraveling. This can result in returning, severing, or rebuilding. Everyone’s journey is different.
Escobar insists that this book is not her memoir, a text book, or a self-help book with guaranteed results to squeeze out faith-challenging feelings and put you back in a spiritual box. She is not giving easy answers or advice. Rather, she acts as a facilitator, helping you put words to your experience, encouraging you to start the conversation with yourself, and re-assures by sharing stories of other’s experiences that can help you navigate your own unique faith shift. She will help you process the shifting of your faith and show you that you can find your way to something more, something bigger and truer, without actually trying to tell you what it is.
I highly recommend this book to those who are questioning the things they always believed, and especially those who are unraveling from an identity within fundamental/evangelical Christian churches. She will help you process, understand, and help you not to feel alone. And I speak from experience – as if she had crept into my head and heard all my thoughts, and then gave me the tools to rebuild a much larger faith that doesn’t have to be black and white, but many colors of a prism with so much mystery, freedom, and diversity to explore. This book is top on my list of favorites for this season of my life. You can get a taste of her writing and the topics in the book on her blog at www.kathyescobar.com. For more information about the book, go here.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Convergent Publishing in exchange for my honest review.