My "Aha!" Moment
The most important moments in life are those small flashes that happen when something shifts in our thought processes, and we begin to see things differently. I cherish these reframing moments, because even though they may seem quick or insignificant, they actually change everything. They are the domino that tips all the others.
The "aha!" moment that allowed me to begin the process of getting unstuck from fear came one day while I was having a conversation with Rob Bell on my podcast "That God Show." I asked him, "What would you say to someone who doesn't know what he or she believes anymore?"-not realizing I was actually asking a question about my own faith crisis.
Rob essentially rejected the premise of my question and said that it's not accurate that a person doesn't know what he or she believes anymore; instead, he said, "In that moment they are just acutely aware of some things that they don't believe anymore."
Rob's response was the first piece of advice that helped me regain my bearings from where I was frozen midway up the mountain. In that moment I felt like I was still knee-deep in my spiritual midlife crisis, frozen with fear and unsure what I believed or even if I believed anymore; but as I listened to his answer, I quickly realized that maybe I was exactly where I needed to be. I just needed a mental reframe to help me see where I needed to climb from that stuck place. Thus, his answer wasn't some sort of road map; it was more like a decoder ring that helped me look back at my spiritual journey and finally make sense of where I had been and where I found myself in the present moment on the mountain.
Rob was right. It was not true that I did not know what I believed anymore; instead, I secretly knew inside that I no longer believed in being afraid-especially of God. In this case, knowing what I did not believe became the key to rediscovering what I did believe.
Sure, I felt stuck on the side of the mountain, but maybe it was because in that moment I needed to look down-to look back-and to look good and hard at where I had come from, and to rethink all of it from a standpoint of being . . . unafraid.
For those of us who have experienced a faith shift or deconstruction of our faith, it's entirely normal to come to a point in our journey where we feel afraid. It's also completely normal, when that fear is left unchecked, for it to spread throughout all aspects of our faith and life until we lose sight of where we're even headed. We get stuck in scared and forget that we have to stay there only if we choose to stay there. Writing now from the other end of the journey, I can say that it's a far better option to recognize when we're stuck in scared and to insist on moving somewhere.
Yes, to become hyperaware of the things we don't believe anymore can be scary; we become afraid of being wrong, afraid of becoming social outcasts within our faith circles, afraid of what God will do to us for getting some parts of life incorrect. And more than anything, I think we become afraid that naming those things we don't believe anymore will result in a loss of faith instead of the birth of it. But in fact, I have come to believe that making the conscious decision to be unafraid and name those things we don't believe anymore can lead us to explore a faith that is wide-open and beautiful beyond our wildest imagination.
Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith
From meeting and talking to people across the country, I've become well aware that there's nothing new or unique about having a crisis of faith. My story, in many ways, is the same story I've heard repeated over and over in many different conversations. While our stories all have their individual flavors, I believe that we all share common roots in fear-and that's precisely why I decided to write this book.
Yes, I was going through a crisis of faith-teetering between feeling like I didn't know what I believed anymore, and moments when I was acutely aware of some things I no longer believed but for a time was too afraid to acknowledge and to explore deeper.
Thankfully, I decided to lean into it to see what I could learn from the journey.
The intensity of a crisis of faith feels like the world is crashing down on us, especially if we grew up believing that having strong, secure, and confident faith is one of the most important foundations in life. However, what I've come to learn on this journey is this: a crisis of faith might not be a crisis at all.
I mean, what if it were possible to shed old beliefs and not be left empty-handed?
What if confronting the things we don't believe is exactly how we discover what we do believe?
What if a faith crisis is actually something God has orchestrated in order to free us from false beliefs about him, false beliefs about ourselves, and false beliefs about others?
What if deciding to be unafraid and to lean into those intense moments of a faith crisis in fact leads us to the birth of faith instead of the death of it? And what if this is exactly what God wants us to do, and is inviting us to do?
I believe all of these "what-ifs" are true, because that is exactly what I discovered on my journey to embrace a crisis of faith as a divine opportunity.
Excerpted from UNAFRAID: MOVING BEYOND FEAR-BASED FAITH by Benjamin L. Corey. Copyright © 2017. Reprinted with permission of HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers.