Thursday, January 28, 2016

I Never Thought It Would Happen to Me

First of all, this book Faith Shift by Kathy Escobar—and therefore this review—is not for everyone. It might not be for you. If you click here, go through the list and can’t identify with any of it, and none of it makes sense, or even sounds ridiculous, then please, by all means, click away from this blog and go back to Facebook.

Thing is, I can identify with most of this “list,” and it makes total sense to me. I grew up in a strong Christian fundamentalist home in the 1950s. I was taught to have a very sure faith. And I did. I think I did. I really wanted to in any case. If I had theological questions I kept them to myself. If I had problems with my faith, it was me and not God.

But I still had questions. Some things didn’t make sense.

In the tradition I grew up in, it was permissible to question fairly unimportant things, like “should Christians drink alcohol?” but to question an important tenet of “truth” was not permissible. It was never okay to ask how a supposed loving God can send the majority of people who have ever lived on this planet to a place of eternal torment of fire forever and ever for which there is no escape. When I would ask, how is that loving? I was met with “tut tuts” plus the catch all verse which is meant to shut down every question a kid has - “God’s ways are not our ways.”

So, I started being quiet.

Outwardly questioning anything about the faith led to the pronouncement that we would be “put up on a shelf,” which meant we were of no use to God. He was basically turning his back on us, and wouldn’t use us until we got our act together. It’s odd. Up until yesterday when I was researching for this blog, I could have sworn that the “shelf” reference was in the Bible somewhere. It’s not. I even asked a group of trusted Christian friends who know everything about the Bible. Nope. Not there.

Why am I not surprised?

Shifting “away” from the faith of one’s youth is a scary thing. It feels like just as I’m about to sit down, someone pulls the chair out laughing. I land on the floor. And everyone still laughs. I am bruised, but people still laugh.

My faith was subtly shifting. Because over the past few years I’ve started to see a different Jesus. I’ve started to see a Jesus who is more loving. Even Bible verses that I was sure meant one thing, are now meaning something else to me. And they make total sense meaning something else.

For this reason, I’m overjoyed that there are books out there like Faith Shift. In future episodes of this blog, I will be featuring more of these authors and podcasts and blogs. I will introduce you to these “friends” I’ve never met and yet who might just understand my path. I’m talking about Rachel Held Evans’s book, Searching for Sunday, the Free Believers podcast, blogs such as Jesus Without Baggage. All of these have been so helpful. I discovered Faith Shift, by listening to an interview with Kathy Escobar on the God Journey podcast. (I so related that I bought her eBook on the spot.)

Faith Shift was so helpful to me that I emailed the author and she and I have had several email conversations. (She seems like a lovely person!)

As you will know from reading my previous review blogs, that it’s the beginnings of books which draw me in. Her first chapter is entitled, “You’re not crazy and you’re not alone.”

I wasn’t alone! And I’m not crazy! I’m really, really not crazy! There are other people like me.

According to Kathy, a shifting faith goes through various stages. The first is “Fusing.” This is the honeymoon stage where all is well and right and good. Faith hasn’t “shifted” yet.

Next comes “Shifting” when the faithful find themselves shifting slightly, ever so slightly away on certain issues.

“Unravelling,” the next stage, is when everything falls apart. There are simply too many issues that the believer questions.

Like its name, “Severing” is the stage which is a cutting off and away from any kind of early faith.

Finally comes the “Rebuilding” phase, where faith is rebuilt, but often bears little resemblance to the early “Fused” faith.

If this isn’t you (in other words, you didn’t move on over to your Facebook page when I told you to), be aware that many people are going through this. A few years ago now, ABC ran a news special about Baptist pastors who no longer believe in God. click here for that story.

Of course they remain anonymous, their jobs depend on this. If you Google "pastors who no longer believe," sadly, you will be rewarded with many links.

What do I believe now, and where am I on Kathy’s spectrum? My answer today might be different than my answer tomorrow. I know there’s a God. I know that God is a god of grace. I’m not an atheist. I think that God is way more wider than I was ever taught to believe, way more full of love, way more kind, way more full of grace, way more inclusive than I had ever imagined.

I grew up wanting God to “use” me, that's the prayer and goal of every Christian. Even in the writing of this now, it sounds weird. Does a parent “use” her child? Is that a parent’s biggest goal? No. God doesn’t want to use us, God wants to love us. And he wants us to reflect this love to others. That’s about all I know. And maybe it’s enough for now. 

I will end with what an anonymous person quoted in Kathy’s book: “I am left with fewer truths, but they are clearly deeper.” Which sounds like a sort of cop out, (Seriously. If you think it’s a cop out, why are you still reading this? This isn’t for you.) but I understand it.

This is a book I will read and re-read.

Next time "I Like It" will take a slightly different turn when I write about all things kayaks and kayaking.


  1. thank you for this, linda. love reading what it stirred up in you and always glad when it makes it into the right hands at at the right time. love from colorado.

    1. Thank you so much Kathy. It has been a pleasure getting to know you - just a wee bit- online. Blessings today.

  2. Linda thanks for this.You and i share much the same kind of upbringing and church experience and maybe the inevitable same kind of questioning and rethinking of our faith over years.I am grateful to say i have accepted an expanded view of God's grace and have learned to daily offer this grace to myself and as a result am more generous in gracing others.As ilook over my years of faith i think my questioning of the faith of my parents has allowed me to see that maybe what i saw /heard from them was a reflection of my own imaturity and in no way a real view of what they believed. I do think they were the product of their own perhaps more legalistic generation but saying that there is something to be said for the diciplines of the real life lived out in faith.It is more real,more messy, more human than i would like but also more amazing, more forgiving and more gratifying than i could ever have imagined.

    1. Looking forward to reading Kathys book...

    2. Your words brought tears to my eyes, Carolynne. Yes- we shared so much 'back in the day' (as the expression goes), when we were both young mothers, and I was trying so desperately to be the perfect Christian mother. And I do agree with you about my own parents faith - would love to share here - but it's their story. But I do really understand your words.

  3. Interesting. I come from a background that was Christian, but not at all legalistic or fundamental, and my journey has been from a vague place. It is constantly shifting as I read the Bible and as I pray and experience life and as I question what is around me. I feel like I have so far to go, and yet I've come a long ways, always by God's grace.

    1. Thank you so much Sunni, for posting. I think we all have come a long way by God's grace - and grace is something that's become so important to me.