Well, like so many other areas of my life, sometimes when I make plans, they fall apart. I had wanted to work on this series a few weeks ago as I prepare to take a summer blog break, but just never got to it in the hubbub of May, all 5 of my kids being home for a few days (so grateful and rare these days as they grow up), and wrapping up the Refuge semester.
However, I am ready to go for it! 6 posts in 6 days to walk through the major themes in Faith Shift—Fusing, Shifting, Returning, Unraveling, Severing, and Rebuilding. Last night was a processing party in Denver so that I could capture the content on video and figure out a way to host an online one, too. I was reminded, yet again, how grateful I am to intersect with so many awesome and brave men & women who are walking through such hard and beautiful shifts in their faith.
It is an honor and privilege to get to hear the stories and always helps me gather hope and feel less crazy, less alone
I know some of you have read Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and what I share here over the next few days will be familiar. My intent isn’t to process through the whole book but just to give a taste of these big movements together. As I mention here and in the book, too, these are the words that I use to describe these seasons in our journey. You might describe or draw it differently. But I continue to find that it helps so much to have language to help flesh out what in the $(#&!^*!@!? is going on inside of us when everything we once believed comes apart and we are trying to find our way forward.
And part of moving forward is looking back, considering where we’ve been.
That’s the stage of Fusing.
From Faith Shift: Three steps comprise Fusing: believing (the point where we come to faith), learning (where we begin to embrace an influx of theology, spiritual knowledge, and group expectations), and doing (when we start actively serving, volunteering, and participating). Often these responses occur in a rush—all at the same time or very close together. Sometimes it takes a while for a believer to begin doing what his or her faith teaches” (p. 24).
This nifty chart for the journey is sometimes helpful in fleshing out some of the ingredients of what I call Fusing. (I loved The Critical Journey when I first read it in 2002).
The three core values of Fusing are certainty, conformity, and affiliation.
Certainty about core doctrinal beliefs that feel unshakeable and clear.
Conformity and learning the norms of the group. Most of the groups and systems in Fusing are homogeneous. There’s a clear sense of what it means to be part, what we need to believe, do, think, or act appropriately in the system.
And affiliation–being part of something bigger than us, having a “family” and a team to belong to.
Oh, how sometimes I miss these three things dearly! They served their purpose in my faith journey for a long time. At some point, though, they tend to outlast their usefulness and we long for something more (more on that tomorrow).
Affiliation, conformity, and certainty are intrinsically part of Fusing and help form what I call “10 Commandments of a Fused Faith,” the unstated and unwritten rules of behavior and belief that guide our thoughts, feelings, and actions as believers (p. 33).
These commandments summarize what directed us during the Fusing process and illustrate what we begin to leave behind as our faith shifts. Each of us has different ones that come from our own unique experience.
Here are mine:
My 10 Commandments of a Fused Faith
- You shall go to church every Sunday.
- You shall not express any negative emotions.
- You shall vote Republican.
- You shall never forget that the Bible is 100 percent accurate, literally true, and perfectly clear.
- You shall not rock the boat or create division in any way.
- You shall try really hard to connect with God (and if you don’t, you are doing something wrong).
- You shall volunteer and then volunteer some more. And then volunteer some more.
- You shall achieve spiritual growth through consistent Bible study and participation in small groups.
- You shall avoid non-Christian people, places, and things because they will lead you down a bad path.
- You shall always work hard to earn God’s love (p. 33-34).
What are yours?
Try not to evaluate or edit them. They’re not good or bad or right or wrong. They just are. As you consider your own fused faith commandments, they might feel comical, angering, painful, or a host of other possibilities. Regardless, it’s important to recognize them as part of our story. It might be easy to look back and pass harsh judgment on your commandments—I know it is for me.
But I am learning that a more helpful response is to honestly acknowledge the truth of that time in my life as just that. I don’t live under those beliefs anymore, but they shaped and guided me for many years.
I’d love to hear some of your 10 commandments, if you’re willing to share as few or many as you’d like.
Tomorrow–Shifting: when things get rumbly.