For the next 6 posts of blogging here, I’m going to lay some tracks and walk through the major themes in Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart— Fusing, Shifting, Returning, Unraveling, Severing, and Rebuilding.
In Faith Shift, I use a little draw-on-a-napkin diagram that include words that describe these seasons in our journey. I’ll add to it with each post. You might describe or draw it differently; do whatever works for you! Everyone’s context and experience is different, and what matters most to me is each person finding what works for them. However, I continue to find that it helps so much to have some starting 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.
Part of moving forward is looking back, considering where we’ve been.
That’s the first stage of Fusing.
Here’s a short description rom 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 from my personal blog 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 a seminary class 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.
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 in my next post).
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 (Faith Shift, 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
What are some of your 10 commandments?
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 and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to untangle from them.
I’d love to hear some of your 10 commandments. If you’re willing, share as few or many as you’d like.
Next is Shifting, when things get rumbly.