Part of finding our way forward through a faith shift is celebrating what was and also acknowledging what is no longer part of this next chapter in our story. It’s easy to evaluate some of these things as good or bad, but often they are just neutral. We used to do and believe certain things and now we don’t.
Sometimes it’s a really helpful exercise to respect where were were and where are now.
It’s about recognizing and giving language to some of the new.
It’s honoring shifts and helping us remember “here’s what’s changed.”
It’s anchoring in to “what is” instead of only into “what isn’t.”
I have done this exercise several times over the years, and it’s interesting how it changes over time.
Here’s my updated list for 2017. Some are from years past, some are new additions.
I used to….but now I….
I used to have a fear-centered faith. Now I have a love-centered one.
I used to think the Christian life was a life of ascent and away from problems and pain and “the world.” Now I believe it’s about descent and being present in the midst of the ugly and the real (and it sure is beautiful “down here”).
I used to “go to church” to get filled up with inspiration and wow. Now I care about “being the church” and community to practice loving and being loved.
I used to feel the need for things to be black and white and make perfect sense. Now I really appreciate the gray and the mystery of the words “I don’t know.”
I used to think people could pull themselves up by their bootstraps and change their lives with enough prayer and hard work. Now I see how truly complicated poverty, mental illness, and a host of other problems really are.
I used to think that if I used the word “God” and “Jesus” enough and my kids could memorize enough scripture verses I’d be a good parent. Now I see our actions over the long story are far more important than words.
I used to be afraid of interfaith conversations, worried that somehow it would dilute my faith or lead me away from Jesus. Now I thrive on our commonalities and differences and the ways we truly can work together for justice and peace.
I used to be divided into two people, one I shared on the outside and one who suffered alone on the inside. Now there’s just one of me, with all my strengths and all my weaknesses, all my dark and all my light.
I used to think people could change quickly and the way I wanted them to, with the right belief, the right words, the right help. Now I know that real transformation is messy, complicated, and comes over the long haul.
I used to read the Bible for knowledge, always looking at the study guides to figure out what certain passages for sure meant according to more godly people than me. Now I try read it for beauty and challenge and often end up thinking, “hmmm, I’m not sure I get it but that’s okay.”
I used to not have any male friends, always only being in women’s groups or shying away from real friendship because it was always taught we should somehow be separated. Now I love and lead and learn alongside my brothers and friends and it’s been so healing.
I used to never even notice the lack of women and underrepresented groups in church leadership (that is so weird for me to say now but it’s true). Now I can see and smell it from a mile away.
I used to hold on to all-things-spiritual so tightly. Now I’m trying to practice a looser grip.
I used to think the kingdom of God was really narrow. Now I think it’s bigger than I ever imagined.
I am sure it will continue to change and morph over time, because that’s how things of faith are. But I like the practice of remembering where I once was, where I am today.
What are some of your “I used to…but now I’s…?”
Try not to edit or evaluate or come up with the perfect answer (remember, that was part of our problem in the past). Go with your heart. What are some of the things you used to believe, do, think, consider important. And where are you today?
If you’re willing, I’d love to hear.