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Faith Crisis Therapy - Love Counseling

Updated: Dec 8, 2023

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According to NPR, less than half of Americans consider themselves to be religious. The population of casual to non-religious people is growing at a steady rate. Still, many people are either born into faith practices which hold a lot of cultural significance, while others have maybe converted to a religion due to their own personal convictions. Either way, when our views start to shift over time, it can do a number on our belief systems and how we fit in to the religious cultures that surround us. Questioning or doubting your faith practice is a challenging experience that needs a lot of space to eventually come to terms with. This is made more difficult if your friends and family have opinions about what is best for you.

To understand what a faith crisis is, I like to start with the difference between religion and spirituality. I define spirituality as the way in which one connects with themselves. Whereas religion is a collective experiencing that may lead one to their spirituality, and it is defined by specific practices and ideals. Your individual spirituality does not need to be defined by any specific practices or ideals. It is individual and personal, unique and pure. Sometimes religion can lead a person to find their spirituality, and sometimes religion can lead a person away from their spirituality. It really just depends on how you choose to practice both your religion and spirituality, and less to do with what is going on with your religion.

Some people were never religious. Some people grow up in religious homes and cultures. Some people find religion on their own. Some diligently practice their religion while striving to be the best version of themselves. While others can be deeply religious and completely void of spirituality. We casually use the word “religious” to explain any practice a person may do ritualistically. She is religiously early. He is religious about football. They are religious about what food they eat. One distinct difference between spirituality and religions is ritual. In religion, there is a right way and a wrong way to practice rituals. In spirituality, the art of ritual adapts to your needs and personal growth. I have seen a wide spectrum of examples where a person’s religion has helped them connect with the best version of themselves, while others use their religion as a disguise for their complete and utter lack of morality.

So how do you know if your religion is good for you? The difference between your religion and spirituality

can be understood by exploring your values. The values you hold as a person are the essense of your spirituality. If love and kindness are your two strongest values, you might live your life that way. While your religion's two most important values, for example, might be obedience and faith. If love and kindness are more important to you than obedience and faith, you might be inclined to make decisions based on your interpretation of living in your values instead of your interpretation of your church's values. For some, their religion aligns with their personal values and helps them stay on a path that leaves them feeling fulfilled and enriched. For others, they may have personal values that are in conflict with their religion. This is where faith crises begin. A person experiences internal conflict when their belief systems and their personal values are not in alignment.

Oftentimes, religion and family cannot be separated. Religion is at the root of identity and culture. So what happens when you’re not sure that you believe in your religion? For many they lose family and culture in the pursuit of themselves. For others, they find a way to adapt or code switch between their personal and community lives. Changing one’s fundamental belief system is earth shattering. The firm ground you’re used to, becomes rubble. Every step becomes unsure footing. It is scary. During this time, it is important to be surrounded by people who are not invested in whether you stay or leave religion. You need people around you who understand the complexity of your experience and that your personal journey is about you, and no one else. There may be pieces of your faith that still benefit you, such as your concept of God or a higher power. Or perhaps certain practices such as prayer still help you connect to the best version of yourself. It is common for non-religious people to throw out anything that looks like religion. You do not have to be this way, or you can, the point is - your spirituality is for you, not others. You’re not trying to hurt anybody, but you might. It is common for families and close relationships to be devastated when someone they love no longer subscribes to the set of beliefs that come along with a specific faith practice.

Just because you might be questioning your faith, doesn’t mean it wasn’t precious and holy to you at some point. The process of questioning your faith after believing in it wholeheartedly, is like unlearning math. If a stranger were to come up to you and show you that 1+1 does not equal 2 like you’ve always thought, but demonstrate how sometimes 1+1 can equal 3, your brain would break down! When I say this to people who haven’t been through a faith crisis, they say to me, “That doesn’t make any sense. 1+1 does equal 2. It always will.” I hear you. That is what truth feels like. And for many, religion is truth. So if you can imagine that something you have known to be true your whole life suddenly becomes false - that is how it feels - like math doesn’t make sense anymore. And it's really hard to experience alone.

There are other reasons to have crisis of faith than a shift in beliefs or a divergence in personal and religious values. Some people encounter very traumatic experiences in their churches. Many religions use shame as a tool to demand obedience to the religion’s practices. Some people are exploited by trusted church leaders. Abuse, sexual and otherwise, is found within the walls of almost all religious institutions. Abuse usually happens in a church when someone uses their religious power to exploit people who trust them. People who survive various forms of religious abuse need support in order to heal, but are often met with more shame. They learn to blame themselves for bad the things that have happened to them, and this is not ok.

Whether you are exploring your own spirituality, finding a divergence in values from your faith, or recovering from religious abuse - therapy can help you explore how to connect with the best version of yourself. Faith Crisis therapy can help you develop confidence in your personal spirituality that will give you the strength to know which practices and communities are best for you.

If you think you are going through a faith crisis and need support, schedule an appointment today.

DD Love, MFTC - (970) 852-0687 -

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