rebuilding after deconstructing: 3. discovering what remains

kathyescobar faith shifts, healing, spiritual formation 44 Comments

blog discovering what remains* this is the 4th post for a series on rebuilding and renewing our faith after going through huge scary shifts.  i have never posted this much in the entire life of my blog!  but i do kind of like moving through it quickly instead of over several months and then  people can come back and access the material whenever and however they need.  this is only meant to provide an overview of some of the major themes on this journey.  i realize it’s kind of like drinking water out of a firehose, but i’m not quite sure if there’s a way around that feeling on this big stuff.

here are the first 3 posts:

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when our idea of our own faith goes downward, so many things can look different–the bible, the creeds, and all kinds of things that we were told we had to have as a believer. this will leave us feeling very lost sometimes.

one of the things that gives us the most trouble is that we have been taught that in order to “belong” we needed to “believe.”  so when we aren’t quite sure what we believe anymore, we can definitely feel like we have nowhere to belong.

recently i did a little exercise by researching things that were written on typical christian statements of faith.  warning:  don’t do it!  it’s rough out there and so many different groups have their different opinions on what qualifies as being “the right kind of belief to belong.”

while i value the centering premises of creeds & statements of faith because they help orient people around common beliefs, i also think they can be very limiting, especially for those who find themselves on the fringes.

the first part of rebuilding our faith after losing some of it is to discover what remains. 

often, we think it’s all gone because it feels that way.  but if we dig down deep, we discover that there are remnants of our faith left.  parts that still are alive.  parts that can’t be taken away.

when i look at Jesus’ ministry, i do not see him sitting all of these new followers down and making them sign doctrinal statements of faith.  the one requirement seemed to be an open heart toward him.  

i’m reminded of the first beatitude here, blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3).

sometimes, to protect ourselves from the pain of deconstruction, we close our heart to God because it hurts too much.

part of rebuilding does require an open heart; i don’t think we have to fling it open for God but we need to somehow open it at least a little.  a practice we can do to help us open our heart is “discover what remains”, no matter how simple or complicated.

it seems like Jesus summarized a heck of a lot of teaching into: love God, love others as yourself.  

i’ve yet to see a doctrinal statement that said “we are committed to trying to live these simple-but-hard-to-actually-do tenets out as best we can.”

i believe, more than ever, that God doesn’t seem to have the same lists men make.

when we are deconstructing and can’t hold to some of our old beliefs anymore, the biggest question that remains is:  what might be left when it comes to our faith?

what’s something we still believe in, no matter how big or small?

what’s something that hasn’t been lost or taken away?

what’s something that still brings us hope?

what part of our faith still remains?

what do we still trust about God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit or all three no matter how simple?

for me, something that has sustained me deeply is that God is Emmanuel, with me, with us, and will never leave or forsake me. that has carried me through many a dark night.

years ago at our house of refuge the person facilitating asked us to think of the “one thing” that when it was all said & done we held on to when it came to our faith.  for the conversation, he used this film clip:

when it comes to finding what remains, “one thing” looks different for each of us.  some of us need much more than one.  for others of us, realizing we actually still have one can bring hope.

an important part of this step is to remember is it’s not bad to still believe a lot of things that others may have let go of.

and it’s also not bad to let go of some of the things that others still hold on to.

i really love the refuge’s “what we believe (so far)”; it’s got more than one thing on it but as i read through them, they resonate deeply.

part of our own personal work requires excavating through all of the rubble to find what still remains.  to center on what is still part of our faith, no matter how big or small, instead of only focusing on what isn’t.  

people around us might not be able to hack this kind of excavation and stripping-away-so-much-of-what-was, but i believe God can.

i still think it’s quite amazing what God seems to do with just a little.

discovering what remains is a critical part of rebuilding our faith. it can be as simple or complex as it needs to be, but i think it’s helpful to try to find it.

and own it. at least for now.

what remains for you that brings you hope?

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next, on monday:  finding what works  

tomorrow i have a guest post up as part of ed cyzewski’s series on women in ministry. i’ll link to it once it’s up so you hopefully can go over there read it.  it makes me smile whenever i think of it, it’s called “well-behaved women won’t change the church”.  i hope that makes some of you smile, too.