Since we’re going on a grief trip together, there is something you should know about me, dear reader: I used to be a hard-core evangelical. Don’t worry, I’m not one now and haven’t been for a long-time, but so much of my story is wrapped up in wrestling with faith and wrestling with God, that I should warn you about what you’re in for.
I am just old enough that online dating wasn’t really a thing when my husband and I were dating, so I never got to experience that unique and peculiar way of meeting someone. And, I definitely didn’t learn any of the rules! Oh, how my heart cringes for my single friends. Anyway, this confession kind of feels like I’m accidentally revealing too much on the first date. What do you reveal on the first date anyway? Is that a personal decision? Is it imperative that you divulge that you have been to prison? Or that you happen to have been born with three nipples? Or that you’ve decided you don’t want to have children?
Well, I haven’t been to prison as an inmate, was only born with the standard twin set of nipples, and already have a beautiful son. My skeleton in the closet is that I was once one of the worst kind of evangelicals. The narrow-minded, right-wing supporting, hot-button political issue wielding, Bible-thumping kind. I even voted for Bush Jr. twice! I know, I know, so embarrassing, even in light of our current president, who somehow, makes Bush’s faults look like weak sauce by comparison.
Why am I telling you all this? There’s a lot of people who have walked away from their faith for lots of different reasons. So, I’m not one of “those” kinds of Christians anymore. Thank goodness, but who cares? All the people who are also in the process of unraveling their faith and hoping that there’s something or someone waiting for them on the other side, that’s who.
You know who you are. You’re the person who faith used to be a huge part of your identity. Where church functions took up most of your time. The people closest to you were all part of your special religious tribe that seemed to move in unison—most of the time anyway. Your world used to be black and white. You didn’t really have to think for yourself, but somehow you couldn’t help thinking for yourself anyway. At some point, none of this was working for you anymore and you left the fold, maybe on your volition, maybe not. You became a spiritual refugee and freedom seeker, but you also felt alone, and scared, and angry, and lost, and disoriented, and…and…and. While you may have contemplated going backwards towards what used to feel so certain and secure, you learned that the only way was forward even if it meant facing uncertainty, pain, and loss. Yeah, I’ve been there. By some serendipity you’ve found me, and I want you to know that you’re not alone.
I’ve been on the journey of deconstructing my faith for a long time. Since this is a blog about grief, I must acknowledge all deaths, not just the people in my life that died. My faith was one of those deaths and the circumstances surrounding how it died and why it died will likely come up, hence the warning for those of you who might not resonate with the specifics of this part of my journey. That’s ok. Take what serves you, leave the rest.
My faith didn’t stay dead though, just as my relationship with my parents didn’t stay dead either. Thanks to many spiritual midwives like my ever patient husband, Kathy Escobar (Faith Shift), Father Greg Boyle (Tattoos on the Heart, Barking to the Choir), Stephen Levine (The Grief Process), Father Richard Rohr (The Universal Christ), Thomas Moore (A Religion of One’s Own), Mirabai Starr (Wild Mercy), Francis Weller (The Wild Edge of Sorrow) and many others, my faith has also been on a slow, deliberate path of healing and reconstruction. Much more on that later.
My grief journey and my faith journey are hopelessly intertwined. If all things death and all things faith fascinate you as much as they do for me, you’ve found a kindred spirit. For those of you who are curious about a spiritual path, particularly one that is authentic, expansive, unbound by an institution, interspiritual, and experienced-based, I hope you will join me so that we can learn from one another.