I sometimes feel a sense of guilt at re/moving myself from familiar spirituality, from my roots, from certain religious practices, from pieces of my history and context, from unquestioning Christianity. I “should” on myself—I should be involved, I should serve, I should attend, I should do this and that spiritual discipline whether I feel like it or not. Sometimes this grit is necessary; sometimes it’s harmful. Only the individual can know what helps or hurts in their own particular season. I don’t want to use “searching” as a cover for laziness, apathy, indifference. In the past I’ve pushed through, I’ve done my part whether I felt like it or not. And that was mostly necessary.
What I do know is that some seasons are different. In some seasons it’s letting go, surrender, withdrawal, detachment, reflection, stillness. There may come another when we reenter that world to again serve, sacrifice, help, contribute, encourage (though it might look drastically different). But if we ignore the sense of needing to pull back for a season (or two or three), we miss the perspective created by healthy distance. Without re/movement, we may not see or hear or know or experience or discover what we need when we’re too close and too involved to see the big picture, to face our restlessness, the suppressed doubts and questions, the subtle unbelief that disturbs us.
It is one of the hardest responses ever required of us, to remove ourselves from that which we believe (or have been told to believe) is most important—church, community, spiritual practices, the Bible, service, evangelism, and so on. It may very well feel like walking away from God himself if we take a step back (or many). But we will not grow and change and rediscover if we do not accept seasons of movement.
I understand this process may not be necessary for everyone, or even most. There may be no need to force open a door that is not already cracked. For some reason, some of us are born with or ushered into a predisposition where the door is already cracked, and we must push it open and walk through to that dark other side. We have to know what’s there. Whatever it is, we have to face it. We’ll be spiritually stuck until we do. Or we’ll become cynical and skeptical and possibly even nasty toward not just the negative experiences of our faith but also its goodness and beauty. Personally I know this to be true—if I were to stay where I am, I would remain stagnant or move away from my faith. By passing through the door I am still moving toward something, I am growing and changing and rediscovering. I am still acting on my faith. It matters too much to stay where I am.
It could be that those who enter this process (that to others may appear dangerous) are actually saving themselves by sustaining this spiritual movement, a movement that may challenge every truth ever held.
Those who challenge their own faith are not the ones in unbelief; they believe too much to remain where they are.