rebuilding after deconstructing: 6. igniting passion

kathyescobar faith shifts, healing, spiritual formation 14 Comments

blog igniting passionthe glory of God is man fully alive.” – st. irenaeus

here we are, at part 6 of this crazy-intense series on rebuilding our faith after deconstructing.  the previous posts are introduction1. honoring the process 2. acknowledging losses 3. discovering what remains  4. finding what works  5. celebrating what was.  

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the idea of this series is to provide a loose framework & practices for the big themes of rebuilding.  for some, it’s challenging & stirring up hard stuff. for others, it’s hopeful and brings relief.  for others, it’s just plain annoying because the thought of rebuilding anything is too difficult right now.  may we honor that we’re all in different places and integrate this material in ways that work for us.

the deconstruction process can often feel like dying.  because it is.  old parts of our spiritual life need to die so that new ones can emerge.  what i appreciate about seasons (even though i’d love to live on a beach where it’s perpetually summer) is that we need winter for spring to emerge.  dying-winter-grief can feel so dark, ugly, painful and cold but if we hang in & hang on, new life can rise out of the ashes, buds can start to form on bleak, stark limbs.

a core piece of rebuilding is beginning to resurrect parts of us that have been lost, squelched, stifled, ignored, unvalued over the years. 

we can’t think our way into a new life, but we can live our way into a new life.  part of rebuilding is really somehow about our souls being “born again.”

and this requires getting in touch with what brings us life, what ignites our passion.

this stage of rebuilding is different from “finding what works” because that is centered on discovering new ways to connect with God.  igniting passion is about finding purpose, meaning, and ways to channel our hearts & energy & time in directions that bring life & hope. 

in stage 3, the productive life, before we hit the wall & things began to disintegrate, serving was about doing, working, contributing to toward a system in need of helpers.  igniting passion is part of the transition from stage 4’s messy painful journey inward to stage 5, the journey outward.  it’s where we begin to serve & love & live with much greater freedom–out of passion instead of duty. 

we all have some kind of dream–things we’d like to do, build, try, be-a-part of, live out.

these can be little things, big things. “church” things, not-clearly-related-to-church things. exciting things, simple things.

regardless, part of a renewed faith is acknowledging our passion & desire those “things” and stepping into them somehow, someway, without having to ask for permission.

a sad part about many of our church experiences is that unless our passions “somehow serve the system” many haven’t been encouraged or nurtured (i always say churches have made handing-out-programs-at-church sound like the greatest spiritual gift ever!).  there is so much beauty & hope & passion & wildness & glory waiting to be uncovered as people are set free to live, serve, love in whatever ways God is calling.

also, please try to hold on to this:  having passions & hopes & dreams are not selfish, no matter what people or churches may have told you.

God’s image is best reflected in his people, fully alive.

as we thaw out our hearts and find our way, it’s important to get in touch with what lights our fire:

what do we love to do?

who or what do we care about?

what gets our juices flowing when we start talking about it?

then the question is:  how can we fan that flicker of passion into a brighter flame?

it’s not all-inclusive but it seems like a lot of our passions fall into these 3 primary categories (they overlap a lot, too, and i’m sure there are many other areas of passion but it seems like so many come back to these).

many of us are passionate about:

love. we care about loving people, presence, caring, serving, being Christ’s hands and feet, reflecting God’s image in hard places, restoring dignity.

justice. we are advocates and care about causes.  we want to change systems, stand on behalf of the oppressed, raise awareness, and make what’s wrong right.

beauty. we care about beauty, nature, creativity & the arts and the power of it to heal & restore & inspire & uncover God’s image in ourselves & other people.

some of us have already found ways to live out our passion.  the flame has been lit and the fire’s roaring.  others of us may feel more scared to step out because we know it will be without the support & encouragement of the systems we used to be (or are still) part of. others are somewhere in between and not quite sure yet; any kind of passion still feels buried pretty deep.

regardless of where we each find ourselves, part of rebuilding faith is igniting our passions–ones buried underneath a lot of rubble or ones recently discovered.

passions don’t have to look like starting new nonprofits, planting churches, adopting kids, writing a book, or moving to africa tomorrow (although they most certainly can!)  they can also look like taking a class we’ve always wanted to take, volunteering at a nonprofit that does work we care about, learning something we’ve always wanted to learn, doing something we’ve always wanted to do but haven’t because we’ve been too busy at church. it can be stepping out in any small way that feels like movement toward life instead of standing still.

the best way we can participate in bringing change & hope & goodness to this world is to live instead of die.  try something instead of nothing.  fan a flicker into flame instead of letting it be snuffed out.

what are some passions that are starting to ignite for you (or that you hope will)? 

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tomorrow, the second-to-last part: 7. exploring possibilities