Happy Friday everyone!
This issue is special because it’s one of our quarterly FREE issues that get sent out a year. If you’re new around here, or this is your first ever Storied newsletter, welcome. We’re so glad you’re here.
We started Storied last year in the middle of the pandemic as a way to connect with other people who maybe were experiencing some of the same growing pains in their faith. Storied is a place where you’re welcomed, valued, respected and wanted just as you are today, because that’s what we believe is the heart of God too.
While we connect daily on our Facebook group page, and weekly through these newsletters, we also meet up once a month over Zoom and usually discuss a book we’re reading together. If you’re in a place where you’re looking for more community to wrestle through your questions with, we’d love to invite you to join. We don’t have “answers”, but we can provide a bit of camaraderie for the road. Welcome to Storied!
Q & A
You all submitted some of your questions, here are some of our answers. :)
Was there a trigger that started a season of deconstruction or a build up of things over time?
Here’s the thing, our faith and perspective actually hasn’t changed a ton over the last ten years. Sure, we’ve grown and shed some things and gained others, but the term “deconstruction” is one that has shown up on the internet to describe a process of questioning cultural norms within spiritual communities. That’s something we’ve always practised and experienced in our own spiritual journeys. Sometimes it feels like “deconstruction” is a word that gets thrown at ANYONE who doesn’t just take everything in Christian culture at face value. We don’t actually like the term because it tends carry some negative associations for something we just consider to be simply living out your faith with fear and trembling. So there was never really a “trigger”, there was just a point in culture where not subscribing to mainstream evangelical cultural ideals communicated that you were having a “crisis of faith”. That point seems to have come some time in the last five years. But you would probably be shocked at how little our actual individual faiths have shifted in the last 10-15 years. If anything, they’ve been a constant.
Do I need to go to a *Christian * therapist?
It probably depends. If you’re asking if we think therapy with a non-Christian therapist is valuable and healthy, then absolutely we think there’s a lot of be gained from therapy outside the context of faith. Just like you don’t need to go to a Christian doctor to tend to your physical health, you don’t need to go to a Christian therapist to care for your mental health.
However, if some of the issues you want to work through intersect with your spiritual goals, perhaps it could be helpful have someone who has that added layer of perspective of where you’re coming from and where you want to go. Ultimately it’s a personal decision and really comes down to who you feel the most comfortable with. In our own experience, we’ve met with therapists who are personally Christian but who do not market themselves as Christian therapists. They accept clients from all religious backgrounds and care for them well regardless.
How do you find spiritual peers? Not looking for a spiritual mentor, just a friend with whom I can share my deep spiritual thoughts.
It feels like this has been a weird year and a half for friendship in general. So many of us have come face-to-face with how we differ ideologically from the people close to us. We’ve lost friends and found new ones in unexpected places. It’s understandable for some of us to feel a bit cagey and unsure of opening up the deeper parts of our selves in a year where we’ve faced so much rejection. Here’s a few thoughts drawn from our own experiences that you can take or leave:
A friend doesn’t have to be in the exact same place as you spiritually to have something profound, spiritually forming or nurturing to say. As long as there’s an understanding that you accept and love them for who they are, and they love and accept you the way you are, you can give and receive encouragement freely from one another.
Be open (when you feel brave enough) about where you’re at and let other people respond how they want. Like most relationships, we’ve found there’s a healthy dose of just regularly “putting yourself out there” involved in going deeper with friends. We do so much growing in the context of relationship, you’d probably be surprised how just getting to bear witness to someone else’s process can spiritually transform someone.
Don’t reject people just because you don’t align on EVERYTHING. We have dear friends who have gotten us through some terrible times in the last year, who are very different to us. While there’s a certain amount of dancing around certain topics involved, we also love them dearly and we know they love us too. We can care for each other and respect one another without being carbon copies of each other.
Hope this helps!
How to use vulnerability as an asset in deconstruction?
We’re assuming the person who asked this question is asking how to stay tender and not get bitter and jaded in deconstruction when they use the word “vulnerable”. In our experience it can be tempting to give into bitterness when rightful anger at injustice is allowed to sit and stew unprocessed or tended. Anger is a good emotion (spoiler: all emotions are good emotions!), it signals to us that something isn’t right and needs to be addressed.
Staying open and tender is something we talk a lot about here in Storied as a community. While we think it’s healthy and good to put up loving and compassionate boundaries around your emotions, we also have found that the way to stay tender to stay connected to other living human beings. It’s messy for sure, and it isn’t always perfect, but our relationships and love for others is what has kept our hearts from crusting over! :P
Do you think the Bible is infallible and how that sit alongside your deconstruction?
This question is way too big to answer in one short Q&A, but we’ll attempt a brief (and likely flawed) response. How we read and interpret the Bible plays a big role in all of our respective faiths. Studying the history of how the Bible was written and how each book got picked to be a part of the book we know today, is definitely we encourage you to look into if you find that interesting. If you’re looking for some books to help you in this area we suggest How the Bible Actually Works by Peter Enns (we’ve already read this one together as a community!) We personally believe the Bible is God-inspired and written by men.
How to “teach” kids faith stuff when you’re going through faith crisis/deconstruction?
This question is way too big to answer in one short Q&A, but we’ll attempt a brief (and likely flawed) response. How we read and interpret the Bible plays a big role in all of our respective faiths. Studying the history of how the Bible was written and how each book got picked to be a part of the book we know today, is definitely we encourage you to look into if you find that interesting. If you’re looking for some books to help you in this area we suggest How the Bible Actually Works by Peter Enns (we’ve already read this one together as a community!)
We personally believe the claims that the Bible makes of itself. It God-inspired (“God-breathed”) and that it is “useful” for all the reasons 2 Timothy points out. Ultimately whether or not the Bible is “infallible” may not be the best question.
Is it useful for pointing you towards Jesus, who is infallible? Is your understanding of scripture making you more like Jesus: “the word made flesh”?
As a teenager how do you build a Bible reading/prayer habit?
Okay last question for now! I guess for this we’d just say the same as anyone. We were reminded this week that prayer can be anything we invite God into. While we believe there’s value in the traditional picture of prayer— sitting in silence and listening to God— there’s also a ton of spiritual value in inviting the presence of God into the mundane, heartbreaking, and joy filled moments of life. It can be with your friends, it can be on a walk, while you’re cooking, or driving around time. The Apostle Paul encourages us to “pray without ceasing”, one way we can do that is just by practicing being aware of our emotions and the presence of God in any situation. He’s always there.
First Nations Version Bible Translated by Terry M. Wildman (InterVarsity Press)— We’re VERY excited about this translation of the New Testament. One question we get all the time is how to get excited about reading the Bible when you grew up with it and have read it a million times? Reading it in a new translation or through a different cultural lens could be an incredible way to breathe fresh life into your Bible reading experience.
Why Do We Work Too Much? By Cal Newport (New Yorker Mag) — This piece on why we struggle to stop spinning our wheels and rest was uh… timely. Enough said.
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Orman— Okay so as over 60,000 Amazon reviews will let you know, we’re hardly the first people to read this book. However, if you’re looking to kickstart your autumn reading list with a cosy murder mystery novel and have a penchant for lovable, nosy, retirees— this book is for you.
Christians Don't Tell Lies. They Sing Them by Chris Llewellyn (Premier Christianity)— Our very own Chris is a columnist for Premier Christianity and recently wrote about how so many of the songs we sing in church tend to gloss over the harder bits of life. We laud certainty when we wrestle with doubt, we declare victory when we’re drowning, we claim healing when we’re dying and sick. How do we sing authentically in the context of these paradoxes?
Thirst: Poems by Mary Oliver— Beautiful collection of sacred poems that emphasise paying attention to the wonder in the mundane. (An important practice when confined to a tour bus!!)
Get Out of the Way of Your Own Heart by Chris Renzema — Our buddy Chris just released this amazing album and it’s just full of heartfelt anthems and prayers. Definitely worth a wee listen.
- Yes we did just buy this matching family outfit set. Only God can be our judge.
- this meme was relatable and made us laugh
Our next Zoom call in scheduled for Saturday, September 25th at 10:30am CT/4:30pm UK time. We will send the link out the Friday before (per usual!) We’re going to be discussing Sarah Bessey’s Miracles and Other Reasonable Things as our book club read.
While Sarah handles this subject with her usual grace and nuance, a small handful of you have gotten in touch to say that they feel very triggered by a book that discusses miracles and the supernatural. If that’s the case for you, we want to suggest one of her other books like Jesus Feminist OR Out of Sorts: Making Sense of an Evolving Faith instead. If you choose to read one of those other books please still consider showing up and sharing a bit about what you read. We always want to hear from you!
Two mixtapes for this month. The one we made last year and our “nostalgia” playlist featuring a few of our favourite vintage worship songs.