post-election faith renewal

kathyescobar down we go, faith and politics, faith shifts 7 Comments

Last week I wrote about the reality of the USA election and inauguration deeply affecting a lot of people’s faith. Some were already unraveling, deconstructing, finding-their-way-in-the-dark, and this was just another tumble down the slippery slope. Others have been doing pretty okay with church and faith, but the tangled web between Donald Trump and evangelicalism just did them in.

My heart is always with anyone who experiences this deep pain and loss. The grief and can-never-get-the-old-feelings-back reality can be brutal. A radical faith shift is such a messy, weird process.

At the same time, I have also seen a lot of folks who had been unraveling for a long time–on the outside of all-things-church or in a weird space with it–begin to find renewal through this season in the United State’s history.

For some, the reality of the current climate here has been a surprising catalyst for rebuilding after deconstructing.

The embers of a remnant faith, beginning to be fanned into flame.

The seeds of justice and mercy and compassion and peace-making and all-things-Kingdom planted deep within so many, beginning to grow again.

The longing for God, to connect with our heart and soul and guts in ways that we’ve missed over the years, beginning to re-emerge. 

The beautiful hope of Jesus, God-in-the-flesh, who got lost in all kinds of bad theology and jacked-up church experiences and limitations placed on how we could engage with him, beginning to grow brighter again. 

Rebuilding faith is not an easy path. There are countless triggers and obstacles and weird-mind-games that happen along the way for many of us.

But, I love when it happens because those little glimpses of goodness are gifts.

The realities of Unraveling and Rebuilding were the entire reason I wrote Faith Shift. Everyone’s journey is unique but many threads are similar. Finding our way out of all we once knew and the security of conformity, certainty, and affiliation into a land filled with freedom, mystery and diversity is not an easy task.

The election here is helping, though.

There are, indeed, a few good things about the drama-trauma-you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me-this-is-really-happening-in-the-USA realities right now:

People are waking up.

We have been painfully complacent about all-things-civic and caring for people in our communities.

We also are waking up to the realities of racism, sexism and classism in a new way; those who are on the underside of power have experienced these realities all along but haven’t been listened to, acknowledged, empowered, followed. That’s changing, and it’s about time.

We are waking up to the reality that God’s creation is at risk and environmental stewardship is desperately needed.

We are also waking up to our personal responsibility to advocate for and with the poor and marginalized and under-represented because if we don’t, the consequences are dire.

This is good.

This is what we needed.

It sucks that it has to come with this much collateral damage, but in the end, we’ll be better for it.

I also love seeing what’s happening for people’s faith in the midst of the crazy.

Some of the uncertainty of the past is being transformed into hope for the future.

In Faith Shift, the chapters on Rebuilding are centered on these major movements that can help us find our way forward:

  • Discovering What Remains
  • Celebrating What Was
  • Finding What Works
  • Igniting Passions
  • Cultivating Community

For those feeling longing and desire and movement forward after a long season of separation, disconnection and loss related to faith and church, I wanted to honor it today.

We are discovering that even though we might have lost specific beliefs, love and dignity and compassion and justice still remain. It looks different for everyone, but recognizing and honoring even just one of these truths can be healing. I love the practice of remembering–“Even though I don’t believe _____, I still know/believe/have faith that _______”

Looking back and celebrating the good parts of our former faith is always a healthy practice. For me, post-election, I am grateful for the discipline I learned way back when. There’s something about steady-and-faithful-and-true, showing up over and over again that makes a difference over the long haul.

Also, many are finding God through action and contemplation in new ways. It’s working! Social justice is a spiritual discipline. Not talking about God but listening for God is a beautiful under-utilized practice. Others are praying again, not with clear words but with groans and laments and cries of the heart.

I think most people have three major streams of passion–love, beauty, justice. Oh-my-goodness, are these coming alive for folks right now and it’s gorgeous! Pursuing those things–that’s faith renewal, just in a little different language than we might be used to.

People are also realizing their need for community right now. It’s coming in different forms than only traditional church, although some are discovering they want to be back in a regular rhythm of corporate worship. Others are finding community in different ways, in little pockets of love and action and prayer and support and connection. It’s definitely not looking like it used to be but it’s sustaining many right now and will become even more important in the months to come.

For me, there’s no question this election is renewing my faith.

I feel the call to follow Jesus more strongly than I have in a long time.

I feel the fire in my belly for justice and healing burning inside.

I feel the desire to cultivate community and be alongside others to pray and act together like never before.

I feel tethered to God in a lovely, mysterious way that has been deeply comforting.

We’re all in different places on this. Some are in the dark like never before; remember, you are in good company. Many have traveled this road before you and are in the thick of it still.  You’re so not alone. And others might connect with these words today, finding light in ways that are surprising. You’re in good company, too.

How is this election affecting your faith journey?