by Anita Lustrea
I once told an author before recording a podcast that I’d faith shifted my way out the door of my previous employer. I’m not even sure that’s what happened, but his response helped me wake up to some deeper truths. He said, “That should happen to all of us. You should have faith shifted your way out the door. Wouldn’t it be sad if none of us ever grew or changed, or shifted in our views?”
I had undergone a faith shift. One that made me chafe against some of the theology I’d signed off on for most of my life. The shift didn’t happen overnight. Much like we don’t change from two foot high toddler to Five foot five adult overnight. But all too often we stay the two foot toddler until crisis comes.
I don’t like the ‘faith shift’ moniker like I once did. I’ve come to see it mean spiritual transformation. Much needed transformation if we are honestly asking important questions and dealing with common doubts. The deeper question is are we in a community where we can discuss the questions and doubts? Do we have people who are open to honest dialog, who won’t throw us out the door at the first sign of honest intellectual and spiritual struggle? The very definition of Church needs to be a place that welcomes people like me.
My transformation took a few turns. It left me unable to go to church for about two years. I sat in a recliner in silence with God. Best two year church experience of my life. I didn’t run away, and neither did God. Answers weren’t quick to appear, but I did sense God’s presence and never felt condemned. Either by God or my husband, a pastor!
Probably the most important thing I did was grapple with what was happening, or not happening. I didn’t sit dormant and decide this was my new way of life, going it alone. I ran across the book Faith Shift by Kathy Escobar and The Sin of Certainty by Pete Enns. Those two resources were life saving. Escobar said, “You’re not crazy and you’re not alone!” That’s all I needed to hear. Isn’t that what we all long to hear? We are not alone!
I decided to read and research and test the waters with some close friends by talking about what was happening inside me. I was already going to a spiritual director, something I highly recommend at all times, but especially during a time of spiritual transformation and shifting. Finding some like-minded, non-judgmental conversation partners added the missing ingredient.
God met me in each of those sacred spaces. I’m learning that what my author friend told me continues to be true in my life. It is a perpetual faith shift if I have a living, breathing, relationship with God. The questions and doubts never end, they just propel me to greater depths in my relationship with God.
Anita Lustrea hosts the Faith Conversations podcast. She is a Spiritual Director, Author and Media Coach. (Click here to visit her website.) Anita’s most recent books include What Women Tell Me: Finding Freedom From the Secrets We Keep and Shades of Mercy, about her beloved Northern Maine.
Thank you for contributing, Anita. I appreciate what you say about God meeting you. Yes, he meets us in church and in scripture and in prayer. But he is faithful to meet us in other spaces that are particular to our relationship. At different times in my life, he has met me (and still does) in the garden, in the mountains, and in conversations with non-believers. The list goes on as our relationship transforms over the years. Enjoyed reading your perspective!