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This is a story of fragmentation which leads to a need for approval, to have purpose, to be accepted, to be closer, to be ENOUGH... all of these things exploited by a system which seeks to keep us from reconnecting to who we were before our fragmentation ever set in. A system which just wants us performing to its expectations. But this is also a story of learning to see the world through your own eyes. A story of coming back from the enticing manipulation which causes us to see ourselves as human doings rather than human beings.

The word "liminal" comes from the Latin limen, which means “threshold.” It's a point of entry. A place of beginning. A liminal space is the time between the ‘what was’ and 'what will be’ – between the previous and the next. Suspended and waiting and not knowing... It is a place of transition. And if we can learn to embrace the wait, we will also learn that we are being newly formed. Liminal space is where our transformations take their shape. 

We are born innocent. But then many of us are told we’re born guilty – accountable to some choice we didn’t make, but should definitely suffer for anyway. That framework of belief weighs heavily on Christians. Those of us raised in religious environments grew up exposed to this idea of a universal condemnation, where the only way out seemed to be when the proper formulas were adhered to: the right boxes checked and the right beliefs claimed. Arbitrary technicalities of escape to match the arbitrary judgment... All of it lacking humanity and compassion. 

It's awkward to realize you struggle with the sort of faith you've been handed while you're actively and vocationally leading a ministry. And it’s awkward on many levels – practical, personal, not to mention spiritual. There are consequences to administering a certain worldview, and shaping people's beliefs and religious practices. And there are consequences to stepping away from those things and leaving that life behind.

Silence. Loss. Addiction. Pain. The alienation of repression. The forced-feeding of narratives which foster our unhealthy reliance on an "Other." These are all things that can distance us... from ourselves. All things that can leave us feeling disembodied from who we are and who we wish to be. But the most important journey home is to ourselves.

In our insistence on oversimplification, we do not preserve an honest view of the core of things. In fact, we fail to recognize essential depth. Fail to appreciate nuance and diversity. Fail to comfort with any real traction. This avoidance of anything that isn't "simple" creates distance. We become two dimensional beings in a multi-dimensional world, offering false hope that does not ultimately satisfy. Trivial explanations and empty engagements fall flat. Our lives carry the pretense of having the answers for everyone, even as we remain in the shallows.  And as clichés fail to provide any real comfort, many people have been sacrificed on the altar of our need for “simple” – their identities abused and their hearts left adrift, offered up to a hollow god.

Coming of age is hard enough without a religious culture feeding you the narrative that you are - somehow - especially defective. But what if the burden of words and ideas that you were forced to live under were lies? What if they denied you your humanity? And what if shedding them meant life and love and liberation? What if coming into the light of day as fully embodied was your victory and not your defeat? What if you are as good as you have always been?

Pretty much everything comes to an end, but grief can be persistent. For some of us, it remains a constant companion despite how much it might subside. And that's because it's not purely an internal thing. Grief is also outside of us – something we cast like a shadow, with a shape that serves as its reminder. It tells us where we've been. It tells us who we've been. It tells us why we changed in the first place. 

If you think about it, virtue can be even more significant when it's detached from religious order or lawful observance. Goodness is truly remarkable when the person displaying it doesn't believe it factors into any sort of endgame or grand scheme. When people just live and move in goodness because it's good, and that's enough for them, that's actually pretty damn beautiful. Because, if nothing we do matters, then really all that matters is what we do.

If you ever happen to go through a season of dramatic change, some people will simply refuse to take you seriously. They'll dismiss you, talk down to you, or otherwise treat you as though you've changed flippantly. Often, they will explain their perspective to you, as though the only reason you now disagree with it is that you don't understand it. When you change, people will quickly forget that you used to hold to the same views they still hold to. 

Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. That's what they say are the "five stages of grief." It's a good list. But the idea that such a world-shattering process could ever be neatly labeled or easily digested really does a disservice to communicating what a mess the actual process is. Stages of grief cycle back and repeat, or a bunch can occur all at once, or in the span of minutes over a heavy conversation. It's a frantic world of emotional rock bottom.

Tragedy is hardest on those left behind to remain in its wake. Sickness, death, loss... It is what it is. And even though all of these things affect every one of us, they never stop feeling alien. They never stop feeling like they've intruded on what should have been. We are sentimental, idealistic and romantic creatures of community. Our connections might sever, but they always remember the connection which used to be. 

A lot of us know what it can be like to raise the sort of questions about church and faith that most other believers seem unwilling to ask... Whether we're seeking clarification over some clearly poisonous idea, or challenging the integrity of a certain theological belief, or even just bringing up a biblical "elephant in the room" that is being avoided... Many of us have seen a similar result in how Christians respond or react to us: Fear. Shame. Gaslighting. Loss of trust. Loss of position. Loss of our voice within a community... Our expressed doubts are so often not met with comfort and embrace, but instead with painful separation. 

We find ourselves living within the stark contrast. The new normal. The bottom of the pit after a long fall. We find ourselves at a time when all the dynamics we've known have shifted, and we begin to feel truly alone, whether in the vertical dimension, the horizontal dimension, or in both... It's that place of deep reckoning, where we begin to experience newfound empathy for those who've gone through it all before us. And it's the place where the seeds of newfound defiance are sown, where we cry out from the ragged edge as if to say, "I'm still here, breathing."

The failure... and the fallout. The biggest surprise that comes with wrecking your life as you knew it is often how eerily quiet the aftermath can be. You almost wish everything about it would be more epic – that your existence could be scored and edited like a film, or that your external world would feel more visceral and more loud to echo the turmoil inside... But pain can be so very silent. And suffering so very magnified by the stillness imposed in time's absolute refusal to fast forward. Grief can be at its worst when it's... mundane.