Spiritual faith is an important if not foundational part of many people’s lives. It can also be a source of internal conflict and sadness, especially if you come from a tradition that doesn’t allow much space for questioning or difference--and you happen to be questioning or different. While this can happen in any spiritual tradition, my personal experience has largely been with the struggle of individuals who come from a conservative, evangelical Christian background. This is an area of special interest for me, and I’m quite aware of and sensitive to the loneliness and alienation that Christians can experience if they go through a period of questioning faith or questioning the way in which their communities interpret how faith should be lived out. This experience of loneliness and alienation is also often true for those who have been silenced, hurt, or rejected by their church communities because of difference, such as having an LGBT identity.
It can be a really difficult and scary experience to question in a way that is not welcomed or shared by your faith community. The church often serves as a space for deep connection, valued relationships, identity, belonging, safety, and spiritual fulfillment. The loss that comes with having to decide between being authentic or keeping quiet and “going along” is distressing. Individuals who go through this often struggle to find others who they can safely talk with about their experiences and thoughts on faith. Friends who don’t come from the same faith background may not be able to understand or value the deep meanings and attachments that still feel important. Your sense of identity might even feel threatened, and you may wonder what it will mean for you if you don’t continue in your faith exactly as you were taught.
Avoiding the questions or pretending you’re someone you’re not usually doesn’t work that well, especially if your faith is meaningful to you. And I’ve come to believe that honesty with yourself is the only way through this difficult path, and for many, this makes the way for a deepening of faith.
Some books that many on this journey have found beneficial are
A New Kind of Christianity by Brian McLaren
Femmevangelical by Jennifer Crumpton
Torn by Justin Lee (for LGBT from a conservative Christian background)
Books and Workshops by Peter Rollins
I really value offering a safe space where faith can be explored and integrated into your therapy goals at your own pace and in a way that allows you to both embrace your faith and your questions. If you have questions about therapy, don't hesitate to reach out.
Get Updates about New Blog Posts
If you find these posts helpful, sign-up to receive notices about new blog posts.
About Melissa King
I am a licensed mental health counselor in New York City with a psychotherapy office in the neighborhood of Murray Hill in Manhattan. Find out more about me here. I'd love to hear from you. Email me if there's a topic you'd like to read about here.