jenga faith

kathyescobar faith shifts, fundamentalism, healing, spiritual formation 32 Comments

blog jenga faiththank you all for your love & honesty about sunday’s post when easter is hard.  i am always reminded in these moments how many amazing people are out there feeling similar feelings in different ways. i’m more convinced than ever we need an underground railroad to help each other on the way to freedom.   the timing of this month’s synchroblog is interesting, too, because it is centered on the resurrection & “what if it was really a hoax”, a controversial conversation sure to stir up some challenging perspectives.  i am traveling this week and last week was a wild & crazy holy week so didn’t have time to write a post specifically for it.  but as i was walking yesterday i remembered this post i had written almost exactly 4 easters ago called jenga faith (it was from one of my first few months of blogging, holy smokes i’ve been doing this for a long time now!). i hadn’t read it in several years so it was interesting that it came up in several conversations with friends this past week.  i thought i’d throw it into the mix for this month’s topic & maybe for those who might be reading post-easter who are wrestling with doubt. .  i’d love to hear what it stirs up.  i’ll post the synchroblog link list once they come in later today.

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many i know are going through huge transformation & transition in their faith.  it’s a scary, scary process.  giving up clearly held tenets of the faith:  hills we used to be willing to die on….issues we used to be bulldogs about, refusing to waiver…positions & theology that brought us a wonderful sense of comfort because they were just so “clear”…”it says right here in the Bible” kinds of answers to extremely complicated questions.

i recently shared with a friend that all of this spiritual shifting can feel a lot like the game of jenga.  in the game of jenga, the idea is to keep the tower from falling when various pieces keep getting taken out.  in the game of spiritual jenga, some of us wonder, “if i take out this piece is the whole christian tower going to fall any minute?”….”will this one end it all for me?”…”how far can i go before the whole thing crumbles?”  a lot of times i think “i’m a pastor for goodness sake, i can get in trouble for ‘not knowing’ like i used to.’”  (by who, i have no idea, it’s just the weird stuff that rattles around in my head, and i am grateful for my community where we can process these jenga pieces out loud, look at them, talk about them, disagree about them and still love each other and trust each other’s journey).

while i clearly understand there are many people deconstructing from christianity right and left, becoming atheists, walking away from their christian faith completely, finding meaning and purpose in different types of communities that don’t use the word “religion”, i am finding that even though i’ve been pulling out some jenga pieces over the past few years, my christian tower hasn’t crumbled.  i am comforted that i am not alone. there are lots of us living with jenga-holed faith that is beautiful and wild and probably even stronger than it ever was before (even though it often doesn’t feel like it).

regardless of the holes, i still believe in Jesus.  i still believe in the weird and crazy ways of the Spirit, the unexplainable way God brings hope, peace, and  freedom to darkness, brokenness, and emptiness.   the upside-down ways expressed in the sermon on the mount still resonate in deep places in my heart and stir up a desire to live this short life on earth differently.  i believe in the power of Jesus’ love and that it gets expressed in many diverse and wonderful ways that cross over our limitations of language and expression and culture.  i do still really love the conviction and hope scripture brings.

and when i think of the power of the cross this holy week, it is comforting to me in ways that all of my cynicism about weird religious stuff and church politics can’t take away. 

i don’t have new answers to all of the jenga pieces i have taken out over these past few years. it’s not like i simply replaced the blocks with new certain, stronger, better ones.  i am living in the tension of a lot of holes, a lot of uncertainty about things that somehow don’t seem to matter as much as i thought they did.    some blocks i’ve looked at for a while and put back in.  they didn’t need to come out all the way.  others, i honestly don’t think they are going to be finessed back into place or placed back at the top; they’re pretty much out of the game.

when i reflect on Jesus’ ministry in the gospels i am reminded that he didn’t really have a long list of pieces that i needed to have in my jenga tower in order for it to stand. in fact, he sort of honed in on what was enough to focus on:   love God, love people, including ourselves. 

honestly, that is plenty to play with.

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here’s the link list: