I’ve had two faith crises.
One thing that having two faith crises has done for me is allowing me to compare them. In most ways, they were different. Different triggers, different durations, different reactions, and different emotions.
One specific way the two faith crises differed was the level of openness I took with each.
With my first faith crisis, I kept the entire thing private. Even though Mary knew eventually what I was growing through, she didn’t know all of it.
I was scared. I was scared of what people would think of me if they knew that I doubted God’s existence. I was scared of what they would think of the black and white perspective I had publicly nurtured for myself. I wondered how it might affect what future callings I could receive.
With my second faith crisis, all that was different. People already knew that I was critical of some things regarding the church, so I didn’t need to worry how they’d react. Sure, my response this time around might have been more abrupt when compared to other times when I criticized elements of church governance. But it wasn’t much of a stretch.
I have tried to, over the last few years, tried to present my viewpoint as a grey one. so I don’t think, from that perspective, that it surprised people that I took a view this time around that wasn’t black and white, that I could still sustain the leaders as prophets, seers, and revelators while simultaneously rejecting a policy they endorsed.
Regarding callings, well, let’s just say I’ve become disenchanted with the calling process over the last 3 or 4 years. As a result, I’m no longer that invested in what callings I receive.
That explains some background on why I was less worried about posting publicly about my faith crisis this time around. What it doesn’t explain was why I did it at all.
I was open this time around because I thought it was important that others who were struggling realized that they weren’t alone. I also thought it was important for people to realize that when others go through faith crises, the reasons for doing so are often complex and heterogeneous.
While I was going through the process, an unintended consequence of my openness was an outpouring of support and empathy, which themselves were cathartic and helped me through my struggle. That was something clearly absent my first time around, when I hid it from everyone.
All this leads me to the core question that prompted me to write this post: why are some people so concerned with how they appear to others? What was it that motivated me the first time to keep it hidden? What was it that created an environment where I felt I needed to hide it?
I received so many messages from people who told me that they were struggling with the policy changes, some of whom were actually having faith crises. Yet most of them, if not all of them, remained silent. Why is that?
Why do we have a culture that prevents people from questioning openly, a culture that labels those who question as apostate and heretical?
If we provided safe spaces where people could discuss their questions without consequence and received unconditional support to work through their questions, how would that affect the outcome of faith crises among our members?