When you vacillate between wearing your heart on your sleeve and keeping your true thoughts and feelings behind pursed lips and forced smiles -
When you think you might have opened Pandora's box of Spiritual Unraveling or feel you're playing a game of Jenga with all the beliefs that have previously held your life together and wonder which piece you pull out will finally make it topple -
When you both fear and accept that this, for you, is the only way to knowing (and becoming) what's Really Real -
When you can no longer abide by the boxes of institutionalized faith, even if you sometimes crave its comforts, and you step outside to experience God or the Divine Presence or Church away from church -
When people you know, and don't know, fear for you, that this is rebelliousness, "walking away," catching "the slippery slope," or merely a phase, and they pray for you, hoping you'll return, but you know in your knower that you are closer to faith than perhaps you've ever been and have no intentions of going back -
When you have surrendered to the great Unknown of how this will all play out or how you will be on the other side of it and freefall into it with surprising moments of peace, yes, nestled in the swells of angst -
When you're tired of the Jesus in Lovey-Dovey songs and Jesus the BFF who is altogether too familiar and the tired Jesus of Cultural Wars, because he's been domesticated and made so small and often so petty, and some primal place in you is desperate to know Jesus Who is in The Tallest Old Trees and The Holy One Whose Name is Too Casually Dropped in Conversations -
When being in groups of others, or among friends, who are fitting in where you no longer do leaves you weary and frustrated, confused and anxious, and you wonder if you'll have to "fake" it to stay in these relationships -
When you're done putting a lid on your own discomfort so as not to make anyone else uncomfortable -
When so many words and phrases and assumptions of like-minded belief, songs and blog posts and sermons, and even the bible itself, sound like fingernails running down your internal chalkboard -
When you hesitate, even, to call yourself Christian (or Muslim or Jew or Catholic or Baptist or Mormon or ... ) because you're worried that will imply too many things that no longer describe you -
When you sit and inwardly quake, nearly talking yourself a dozen times out of hitting "publish" on a post and decide, in the end, you no longer wish to bend your words to the approval of others -
It takes all the courage you can muster to bring your full self to the table.
And this, you find, is freedom and holiness - and faith.
Linking up with Five-minute Friday, to the prompt of "When."
P.S. To all who felt uncomfortable reading this, please know that's ok. And yet, if you would like to know and better understand how to companion with someone through this kind of tumultuous process, I highly recommend a book I'm in the midst of reading (for my own process): Faith Shift by Kathy Escobar.