All tagged phone calls

Reconstruction is complicated. Plenty of the process will take us into the shadows. If we don’t deal with trauma, we will perpetuate the cycle of it, weaponize it, and even develop an unhealthy dependence on it for a new identity, living only from our pain… Reconstruction is so worth it. But it’s tough. It can be frustrating. And it’s hard work.

Many loves might come and go from your life, but you’re kinda stuck with yourself. Partners, friends, even family members… any time there is loss, the dust settles, and there you are. And that being the case, for those of us with some toxic theology and religiosity in our backgrounds, one of the most important things to grasp might be this: You aren’t tarnished. You aren’t hopelessly broken. You aren’t born guilty and somehow cosmically at fault for death and entropy itself. You’re just a person. You delight, you suffer, you survive, and hopefully, you love. A lot.

There’s a particular contentment that comes in our falling in love again, dreaming again, hoping again. In our moments of rediscovered innocence, and in our informed and yet defiant idealism. As we reconstruct life on the other side of grief, loss, and tremendous shifts in perspective, the greatest refuge to be found is in the new things we love. It’s almost a kind of resurrection, where you’re armed with all you’ve experienced and learned, but open to something new and beautiful.

In certain religious ways of seeing the world, it can be easy to mistake presence for transcendence. We struggle to fully embody our own experiences in the ‘here and now’ when everything is made to be ‘the somewhere else and the not yet.’ It turns out that being fully intimate with our own experience can be difficult when we have to filter everything through an “eternal” worldview. When that’s you, you end up holding each moment at arm’s length. And a lack of full presence doesn’t just diminish our experience of the world, but our engagement in the world.

The Airing of Grief Season 2 has been long and dynamic and varied. So the question arises: How do you “end” a season like this? We’re not sure you really can. So maybe this is more of a pause. An array of voices in a flowing conversation – meandering together like objects in shared, resonant space. A coda to embodiment and finding ourselves within each other’s stories.

This is the third and final installment in a series of experimental discussions featuring the producers of The Airing of Grief. In this episode, Kevin shares his story – along with his answers to the "three questions" covered previously by Jamie, Derek and Jon. You can spend a long time reforming and even reconstructing faith before you ultimately encounter some of the biggest and hardest questions. Sometimes gravity takes a long time to catch up. 

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. 

Our resilience in trauma cannot be diminished, and our defiance in the face of a religious system which would seek to shut us down cannot be underestimated. So here’s to the unexpected devastations and rebirths – the fires which brought us to the ground and then remade us. And here’s to the slow process of grief which yields a steady assent towards something better. It's ironically kind of biblical: From the ashes, we rise. 

Our freedom isn't merely a detachment from the thing causing pain. It's freedom to live wholly, to channel our passions fully, and to work towards creating the kind of world we'd like to live in. When we aren't stifled to the very core, we can see this clearly. The Source we once felt so distant from... is us. It's always been with us.

When so much of who we are told to be is rooted in fear and simplistic thinking... embracing confusion and complexity is a truly revolutionary act. Letting go of unearned certainty – and learning to celebrate the nuanced, the difficult, the complicated – means liberation. And it might just mean a new and unexpected community on the other side as well. Finally, we can hold space for others in which we ourselves are truly present. And without fear.

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.

Within the church, many women learn from the earliest age to deny themselves space, a voice, their own power, etc. The narratives surrounding women are strong, and can convince even the abused that their abuse is somehow justified, natural, fitting... even necessary. Fighting those narratives is costly – and yet essential – to those who suffer because of them.