liberation.

kathyescobar church stuff, equality, ex good christian women, faith shifts, identity, incarnational 1 Comment

lib·er·ate

libəˌrāt/ (verb)

  1. set (someone) free from a situation, especially imprisonment or slavery, in which their liberty is severely restricted
  2. set free, free, release, let out, let go, set/let loose, save, rescue

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I’ve been in a lot of faith shifting conversations these past few weeks; they happen a lot but sometimes there are just more of them close together and I am reminded how many people are displaced not only from “church” but also from the security and certainty of their formerly fused faith (link). It’s so disorienting! It’s so lonely. It’s so filled with uncertainty.

And it’s also so freeing.

To let go of the “have to’s.”

To let go of the “should’s.”

To let go of “God will love me more if I just…”

To let go of “here’s-what-I-need-to-believe-to-belong.”

To let go of “here’s-how-I-need-to-behave-to-belong.”

To travel lighter, without the weight of these constantly bogging us down, robbing our peace, making our brains go crazy and our hearts heavy, is a beautiful thing.

But it doesn’t come cheap or easy.

Unraveling is hard and painful and messy and confusing. I think it’s important to talk about because when we’re in it, we can feel crazy, alone, lost, and we need others to remind us that what we’re thinking, feeling, and experiencing is a normal part of this path.

But it’s not for nothing.

It’s not to lead us to a path of destruction (regardless of what some might think).

It’s not because we’re rebellious or hard-hearted or being deceived.

It’s not because we want an easier road (because there’s no question in my mind, this is a harder one in the end).

It’s because we are supposed to live free.

Liberated.

It’s because once we begin to accept that the certainty, conformity, and affiliation that comes with Fusing and some of our faith experiences confine us in a way that makes us itchy, allergic, and longing for a more wide and expansive faith, we know we can’t turn back. Then, as we begin to shift and Unravel, we begin to embed authenticity, autonomy, and uncertainty into our faith story and it begins to feel much more honest and free (but kind of weird, too, because so many around us don’t often are confused by it). The deeper pursuit in the evolution of our faith isn’t just authenticity, autonomy and uncertainty, though. I think it’s a deeper core desire for greater freedom, mystery, and diversity. I know that’s what I want more of in my life, my faith, in all kinds of ways.

I do not want someone telling me what I am supposed to think or feel or be or how to behave (or vote, since it’s election season) as a Christian woman.

I do not want to be part of systems that are filled with imbalanced power and homogeneity and the same-old-same-old that got us into all of these problems in the first place.

I do not want to stay small in order to fit in to certain groups or organizations or relationships.

I do not want to have a co-dependent relationship with God or others because that life-sucking pattern was never the idea of the kind of freedom God intended for us.

What I want is ongoing liberation.

Freedom to live in a place of theological spaciousness (more on that in the weeks to come).

Freedom to be where I am.

Freedom to become what I am being called to become.

Freedom to not know.

Freedom to enjoy what is and honor what isn’t.

Freedom to experience God in ways that surprise me.

Freedom to not have to explain myself (I don’t mind trying to honor my positions and beliefs for the moment but goodness gracious, I’m tired of defending; oh, the energy I’ve spend trying).

Freedom to not “figure anything out” because a life of mystery is not “figure-out-able” anyway.

Freedom to listen and learn and grow from people-of-all-shapes-and-sizes-and-experiences.

Freedom to follow Jesus and his wild ways in my own wild way.

And a very important recent addition–freedom to let those who I strongly disagree with theologically and politically and in all kinds of other ways be free to believe whatever they need to, too (I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately–real freedom brings security and secure people give other people their freedoms freely–there’s a tongue twister).

To me, these freedoms are all part of my ongoing liberation.

What are some of yours?

I want to close with this reminder that has helped me keep walking this path of Rebuilding in pursuit of greater freedom, mystery, and diversity.

Over the past 10 years, I have watched so many come to life, be set free, liberated.  I have watched them leave abusive systems and relationships. I have watched them shed the confines of religious legalism and discover a free & beautiful & renewed faith. I have watched them heal. I have watched them find what works. I have watched them ignite their passions and cultivate love, beauty, and justice in all kinds of creative ways. I have watched them help others as part of the underground railroad for faith shifters and offer hope and light and food for weary souls. I have watched them find their voice and become advocates for others’ liberation, too.

Yeah, our freedom isn’t just for us.

It’s to help set others free, too. I always love Toni Morrison’s powerful words–“The function of freedom is to free someone else.”

God, keep liberating us. I am pretty sure that was always Your idea in the first place. You know what we need to be liberated from. It looks different for all of us, but give us the courage we need to keep becoming more free.