Unraveling and Rebuilding with Kathy Escobar

by Mark Votava


I got a chance to meet up with one of my favorite writers yesterday Kathy Escobar.  She was hosting a faith shift processing party in Seattle.  I learned so much from her wisdom, humility, vulnerability, honesty, love and grace.  What a blessing it was for me to meet her and hear about all the things she cares about!

In a culture that says that women can’t have a voice, it makes me sad because it is people like Kathy who will help bring so much beauty back into our experience of spirituality.  When so many are disillusioned with the church, we should consider having equality between men and women because men are not doing so well at being an expression of love in the world.  And they are the primary leaders most of the time.  The one characteristic I admire in Kathy Escobar is that she is a person of love and is trying to help others rebuild their faith after a complete unraveling of it.

One thing she talked about in the processing party was the losses a person experiences through unraveling: beliefs, identity, structures and relationships.  This is difficult and will take you through a lot of grief, anger and pain.  But it brings a lot of us to the place of rebuilding something more authentic for ourselves rather than severing.

Rebuilding consist of:

  • Honoring the process of loss
  • Discover what remains… what’s left, what do you still know to be true?
  • Find what works… spiritual practices that bring life
  • Celebrate what was… what was good about your past faith experiences? (and maybe there was nothing good if you come from an abusive, manipulative situation)
  • Ignite passion… what are your dreams and hopes and what do you love to do?
  • Explore possibilities… what kinds of community are you drawn to try?

Here are a few quotes from her book – Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart

  • God’s image is best reflected in men and women fully alive

“Many of us have been told that passions, hopes, and dreams are selfish unless they directly benefit the church.  We’ve heard we aren’t supposed to enjoy what we are doing but rather serve for the sake of God.  Another message is that because of our gender or abilities, we aren’t allowed or qualified to do certain things.  Hear me on this: these are lies!  God’s image is best reflected in men and women fully alive…”

  • Listen more intently

“As part of our Shifting process, we need a time of rest and disconnection from serving and giving.  Yet, at some point, we have to face our fears and come out of hibernation.  We have to try again even though it’s scary.  This time, though, we can pace ourselves and listen more intently to our souls and bodies along the way.”

  • More expansive definitions of community

“We’ve got to create more expansive definitions of what community can be.”

  • Into diversity, mystery, and freedom

“The path for spiritual refugees like us rarely leads back to where we were.  Usually it takes us around the next corner, and the next, further and further into the unknown, into diversity, mystery, and freedom.”

Have you been through a faith shift that has led to unraveling and rebuilding?