What are you turning toward?

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kathy escobar -turning toward3

A lot of people I know are healing in a wide variety of ways.

I am, too.

Some of us are finding their way forward after a radical shift in faith, a broken relationship, a shattered dream.

Others are discovering their voice for the first time, leaning into a passion that they hadn’t given themselves permission to pursue before, breaking out of boxes that once confined them.

Others are finally cutting ties to what was secure and familiar to pursue a dream or a calling that they can’t ignore any longer.

When people around us see us change and move and leave-all-we-once-knew, sometimes they want us to come back, to return to what was, to quit “wandering” and find our way back.  They are uncomfortable with the changes or miss the old us or sometimes profoundly disagree with our healing path.

Although each story is different, it seems that there’s a common thread through most of the healing stories I’m part of—We’re not going back to where we once were.

We’re just not.

I’m not going back to a church system that keeps women underneath men and silences voices.

I’m not going back to a rigid set of doctrinal beliefs that took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to finally shed.

I’m not going back to homogeneous groups, where everyone looks the same, believes the same, sounds the same.

I’m not going back to hiding my true self, stuffing my feelings, and pretending like everything’s okay when it’s not.

I’m not returning to that.

Yet, there are indeed days I miss the comfort of the past. I sometimes long for what was because it was sometimes easier back there—The certainty of a fused faith, the lack of vulnerability as a “good Christian woman,” the ability to protect myself from intimate relationships by working and trying harder.

I wonder how many of you feel the same about what you’ve left behind?

Walking into the wilderness, breaking free, forging a new path can sometimes feel brutal and disorienting.

The feeling of being untethered, unmoored, unsure of what new life looks like but clear that something has died and we can’t resurrect it.

It often makes me think of the Israelites in the book of Exodus and their long journey out of Egypt toward the Promised Land. I can so relate to some of their complaints, their confusion, their “really, God?” moments. We might ask ourselves the same question they did:“Can’t we just go back to Egypt?” Can’t we just return things back to the way they were before when we knew what to expect?

I get the pull.

I understand the desire for ease.

I know walking on unchartered territory can be terrifying.

That’s why I think it’s so important to remember that we aren’t just leaving what was with no way to return.

We’re not just wandering aimlessly.

We are actually turning toward something new.

And sometimes it’s really good to remember that new thing.

When I think of all I left behind and can no longer return to, it can sometimes give me a lump in my throat. So much of what I used to live, believe, and do is no longer possible for me, and the loss sometimes hurts.

But at the same time, the good of what I’ve been turning toward is so beautiful, so sustaining, so worth it.

Many of us are turning toward freedom, vulnerability, hope, courage, passion, justice, mercy, and serving in ways we never imagined.

Many of us are turning toward healthier relationships and better boundaries and greater authenticity as women.

Many of us are turning toward God dreams, ideas that were birthed in the dark and are beginning to come to life in small and big ways.

Many of us are turning toward a wider view of the world that has opened our hearts and minds to new possibilities for contributing to healing and hope.

Many of us are turning toward something new and leaving the old behind, never to return again.

My heart is with all of you who are past the point of no return today and aren’t quite sure what’s next.

Keep considering what you’re turning toward.

Remind yourself (or ask your sisters and brothers to remind you) of why you’re pointed that direction, what you hope for, what you want, what you dream of, what you need others to be praying with you, what you know you can no longer live with, what you can no longer live without.

SheLovelys, what are you leaving behind that you know you can’t return to?

What are you turning toward?

 

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Kathy Escobar
Kathy Escobar co-pastors The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver. A trained spiritual director, speaker, and advocate, she also blogs regularly about life and faith at kathyescobar.com and is the author of Faith Shift and Down We Go—Living out the Wild Ways of Jesus. A mom of 5 young adults and teens, she is married to Jose and lives in Arvada, Colorado.
Kathy Escobar

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  • All of my thirties was shedding, leaving behind systems, careers, places, physical comfort, possessions. Sometimes I had the strength to do it willingly, sometimes God pried those things from my hands. What was I pointing toward? Everything I thought I was pointing toward has also been taken away. After leaving so much behind I’m still living with a void in certain parts of my life. It’s not sustainable, but for now it just is. I hope God is pointing me toward the truest version of myself, and that eventually there will be work for that person to do, and a place for that person to belong.

    • thanks for sharing, hannah. it is a scary and hard road, not knowing what is ahead and then sometimes having even new possibilities evaporate which is another layer of loss. living and healing is messy work. peace and courage to you as you keep finding your way forward..

  • Mary Gemmill

    I hear you. I am hearing a similar message from people all over the world, so am assured we are entering into a New Season, yet are not yet sure what this season is going to look like.
    I am particularly comforted by your words: We’re not just wandering aimlessly.

    We are actually turning toward something new.