When Faith Shift entered into the world in 2014 (!) I had a few core things I wanted to communicate—that we weren’t crazy and were weren’t alone in our faith shifts and that the movements I walked through in the book—Fusing, Shifting, Returning, Unraveling, Severing, and Rebuilding—weren’t a formula or a step by step anything. It was just a big picture model for some language, feelings, and realities that many of us were experiencing as everything we once believed fell apart. I always told people to feel free to change the words, the images, or any other parts to fit into their context. A few years ago I took my own advice. Instead of “Rebuilding” faith (which was not the perfect word even then but we always do the best we can in the moment) I have switched the language of moving out of Unraveling or sometimes Severing to “Reimagining.” In our desire for greater freedom, mystery, and diversity in our faith and lives, reimagining just feels more resonant.
Some other words for reimagine are: reenvision, reconceive, reconsider, redefine, reexamine, reexplore, rethink, revisit, reappraise, amend, reassess, remedy, revise.
On this last day of a really brutal year on too many levels to count, Jose, my husband, and I went skiing for a few hours with two of our young adult children. I was listening to my Grief Has No Rules Spotify playlist, awed by Colorado’s incredible beauty, and I had this unexpected feeling swirl up in my soul: although my faith might be too fragile or simple for many, it’s also the strongest it’s ever been in the weirdest of ways.
It’s a strange paradox.
But what isn’t?
We have survived 14 months without our son on this earth. The whole world got turned upside down 9 ½ months ago, and our trauma got all mixed in with the world’s and in some really weird ways, it’s helped. In other ways, the combination of the two has taken an extra toll. I had two book projects come out this year which I am really proud of and grateful for but impaired in my ability to fully engage by grief and a global pandemic. In the midst of it all, my sweet and wild faith community, The Refuge, has had to embody resilience in ways that I knew we could but are still so hard.
At the end of our strange 2020 summer, as I am getting a bit better at listening to my soul, I knew that it was time for an extended break. It’s crossed my mind before but because we travel and having a lot of flexibility, it truly didn’t ever feel like something I needed. This time, it wasn’t fuzzy or a tweener—it was crystal clear. it’s time for a season of radical rest.
For space to grieve and breathe and make room for healing without thinking of ZOOM meetings.
Of course, my therapist, Refuge team and every other human in my life was so supportive when I said it out loud. The past few months I’ve been preparing; we do everything at The Refuge in community, and I’ve had an awesome team helping with this transition. Tomorrow, January 1st, 2021, when I wake up, I will have the first extended break I’ve ever had in my life. Seriously. I started working when I was 13 and between work, college, ministry, raising babies, and nurturing our community for the past almost 15 years, I have never had an extended time like this.
I recognize my full range of privilege is blaring.
I know the timing is so weird.
However, I’m also reminded of a section in the Practice of Resting chapter in Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World that’s called—“But the World’s Falling Apart…” which addresses the reality of how hard it is to rest when there’s so much social justice and healing work to be done in the world. But here’s what I know—I have to. I love my work; Jose loves his, too, and the truth is that working this hard for this past year has helped us survive.
But I know—clearly, without hesitation or doubt—that I need to pause, clear the deck, and have some space time to reimagine the future.
As a parent whose son died by suicide with four other young adult humans to nurture for their good future.
As a pastor in a world that still is bound by the grooves of patriarchy along with the lies of white and Christian supremacy.
As a non-profit leader in a scrappy little organization that’s been hacking at it for almost 15 years with small resources and a gigantic heart.
As an advocate for change in the world in my own unique ways.
As a writer and catalyzer of safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing.
As a woman who knows how fragile life is and wants to live as free and full as I can in whatever time I have left.
As a tired but hopeful human.
2021 will be a year for reimagining.
And the next 3 months will be a time for resting.
What’s your word for 2021?
What’s stirring in your heart for the new year ahead?
What do you need to celebrate?
What do you need to grieve?
What do you need to listen to?
My heart will be with you as this weary year ends and we enter into a new one with so many unknowns, so many transitions we can’t predict, so many longings in our heart to go back to “normal” when we know it’s not possible.
There’s no going back.
There’s only going forward.
Look forward to being back in April.