Evolving Faith Conference
I’m at the Evolving Faith Conference this weekend, hosted in the mountains of North Carolina by Sarah Bessey and Rachel Held Evans (I met Sarah Bessey today, and I fangirled a little bit). I’m a bit burned out after hearing so many fascinating talks from fascinating people (and having fascinating conversations with a friend I don’t see often enough).
So I’m not writing much; I’m not sure I can formulate many cohesive sentences tonight. But I was struck by how the speakers, ranging from Pete Enns to Wil Gafney to Jen Hatmaker to Osheta Moore, kept returning to a theme of lament.
Lament for friendships lost, for conceptions of God lost. Lament for the pain and isolation of experiencing a deconstruction of faith. Lament for the hurt and sorrow caused by faith communities both personally and in the world through patriarchy and white supremacy.
But each speaker also affirmed that, out of this sorrow and pain and loneliness, we can find God again, even in places where we didn’t expect to find God. We can find community. We can regain, regrow a faith that is deeper, more resilient. We can rediscover hope in the peace and justice of God.
We can find hope in knowing that we are God’s beloved.
My journey of deconstruction and reconstruction hasn’t been particularly dramatic; it’s been slow, and I’ve been blessed with community along the way. I haven’t experienced a dramatic break or a traumatic expulsion from a community of faith. But even as I’ve intellectually wrestled with various doctrines, part of my heart has always been afraid to engage, afraid of God’s rejection and disappointment.
I’m working — I’ve been working for the last year — to integrate my head and my heart. And I keep hearing (as I wrote last week) the word that I am beloved.
Hearing the speakers today, I was reassured that I am beloved. That if I earnestly seek God, I will find God. That God is never disappointed in my questions and confusion and sin and even anger.
And that, right there, is the gospel. All I can hope to do is to immerse myself more and more fully into this truth.