Faith Crisis & What I’m Doing with the Pieces of It

{By Lisha Epperson}

 

I spent 9 years under the teaching of Pastor Creflo Dollar. Say what you will about recent allegations, but I’ve never been more into the word than the time I spent under his ministry. Under his covering, I believed for, and gave birth to my only biological child after a 14 year struggle with infertility. I learned how to believe for the impossible under the controversial message of prosperity.  And it wasn’t just what I saw happen in my own life, it was the miraculous transformation I witnessed in the community I still call family.

 

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The church moved to a theater in the Bronx, and mandatory weekend work for my husband cut our attendance down marginally at first, then completely.

 

Initially we survived by streaming the word. Online I met Miles McPherson of the Rock Church,  Levi Lusko of Skull Church and more recently, Reverend Amy Butler of Riverside Church in Manhattan. Today, my quest for Christ includes attendance at a weekly silent meditation service in an Episcopal church and gatherings, with a church plant in Harlem – the one I walk to.  The last 3 Easters we’ve attended Hillsong Church NYC.

 

And I’ve never been happier, more content with this hodge-podged walk, this sewn together faith.

 

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It’s a puzzle. My piece-mealed faith is a patchwork of thoughts and ideas that make up the church I need right now. It’s a holy conglomeration of spirit and song, chapter and verse – the word, fed through various sources. I want a church that satisfies my midlife craving for cool marble under my feet, the scent of frankincense wafting through the air. I want to sit in a pew and close my eyes with a hymnal at my side. I long for quiet, for contemplation, for poetry and literature. And then I want to clap my hands and dance to contemporary Christian music. I want to speak in tongues and shout Amen when I feel the spirit.

 

I can’t find all that in one place.

 

I want it close, I want the ritual, I want an actively engaged experience for my children. I want a faith that thinks, a faith that moves, a faith that works.  I’m experiencing a gorgeous, perfectly timed crisis.  It’s birthed an insatiable desire for engagement that’s quenched only by the God-breathed word I receive from a complex collection of speakers and teachers.  The people who make up the church. I find this…Him, in gothic churches and school auditoriums…in refurbished movie theaters and seminary hallways. God is so big in my life I can’t fit Him in one building or one congregation. I see and feel him everywhere. I can’t get enough.

 

I don’t want to betray one experience over another. I love them all. I’m in the middle and I won’t decide. I’m happy to sit at the table and be fed. Wherever the table may be.

 

I imagine nothing is wasted. While I search for the certain brook for our family I’ll drink deeply of the many lessons and experiences.  I believe his covering rests over us, even as we continue to seek the sweet spot for our family as members of one church.

 

So my faith is a mosaic, the left over and broken tiles can be used to make unique and beautiful designs. Rather than just getting thrown away I’m enjoying the freedom of exploration. It’s led to a better understanding of my faith process. Dabbling in different communities teaches me the breadth of creation and puts me in community with people very different from myself. In so many ways it feels wild and offensive and just like the kind of living Jesus did. The misshapen and broken bits of my faith, even the questions, can make something beautiful.

 

Online I’ve connected with Roman Catholics, Protestants and Anglicans – church planting anabaptists, tongue speaking holly-rollers and dancing monks. The longer I live and learn the clearer it’s become – I love people of faith. I love Bible believers. Instead of trying to squeeze my faith in a box, I can “just be.” I am a child of God.

 

We love and grieve and laugh. We cry, we doubt, we believe. We are humans. We have Jesus in common.

 

In a strange way it feels old and new – this search for self in Christ. The first time around in faith, I went with the program. I think it’s typical, but now – I’m choosing. I’m untangling my faith, working out the kinks in a perpetual conversation. And I get to share this journey with my family – this freedom of no longer labeling, but being a Christ follower.

 

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Matthew 7:7

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View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allumeheadshotsLisha Epperson is a hopeful romantic, lover of Jesus and most things antique. A happy wife and now mother of 5, she shares a warrior song about her 14 year walk through infertility and the semi-sweet miracle of adoption. Lisha works out a life of faith with fear, trembling, and a fair measure of grace in New York City. Follow her blog at http://www.lishaepperson.com, and here for Facebook and Twitter.

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10 Comments on “Faith Crisis & What I’m Doing with the Pieces of It

  1. Pingback: Outside the City Gate : A Faith Mosaic

  2. I think you’re right, Lisha, it’s hard to find Him, all of what we want of Him, in one place. I think that may be because the in many cases the “places” are filled with more “human” than “Holy” So receiving, engaging, ministering as the Spirit leads, where the Spirit leads makes sense. As long as we’re holding that mosaic up next to the Rock of scripture and the Truths of God, we’ll stay on the right path. I love the picture you paint of the cool floor, muted light and heavily scented air. If I close my eyes I can almost feel the hard wood against my back, and the worn edges of the hymnal sitting between us. . . as we worship. A beautiful picture, friend.

    • Hi June, I worried I may have missed the market with this one. To be fair, I’m a mature Christian who can hold up any experience to the word of God and I can eat the meat and spit out the bones. This might not be the best experience for a new believer but God knows where I am and I feel covered in this journey. I cover my children also. I may not have been clear about that. Theirs is one experience but they get the benefit of a mother who’s enjoying living her faith. They get to see me walk it. Thanks for engaging me here. I think I could talk about this for awhile.

      • Lisha, it’s not missing the mark. This is your experience. As we know, God is so very faithful to meet us in our transitions. Being transparent in our faith journeys, I believe, helps our children learn to deal with the impending hiccups and change that are possible. When a family openly shares their faith, it helps our children to lean into God’s presence all the more and learn for themselves who He says He is. Not only in scripture but in the Person too.

    • Sigh…I realized now, that many have negative personal experiences with anything resembling a prosperity message. I respect that, but honestly didn’t think of it while writing. I stuck with telling my story and experience. Although we are no longer members of the church, I’d say our family thrived under the ministry. I hope I didn’t offend anyone or bring up painful memories for any of your readers. I’ve loved posting here. It feels like a safe place to let the struggle out. I’m so grateful for it but understand if engagement in the form of comments doesn’t happen. I do hope God met someone with my words and that they’re encouraged to keep leaning in. Even when it gets complicated. Love you lady.

  3. Lisha, I love this post. You are speaking my language! Who wouldn’t long for all the riches you mention? Yes, please. I’ve had to find church in alternative places over the years because I’ve been too unwell to attend our usual place for services. And even before it became such a problem I was listening on-line to folk who made my heart sing and soul alive to God in a new way via God TV. We listen to (and support) Creflo Dollar Ministry and Joyce Meyer Ministry, as well as watching Joseph Prince and Charles Stanley and others.

    I love nothing better than an eclectic, mosaic mix of various faith expressions. My heart leans strong toward the contemplative pathway and I’m considering joining those dancing monks too! Church is both everywhere and nowhere in particular for me and it suits the journey I’m on right now. In time, maybe I’ll be healed enough to return to church services. For now, I enjoy the blending of being with folk from different faith backgrounds.

    There’s never been a physical way or place combined together where I can fully indulge all my spiritual yearnings, and I also “long for quiet, for contemplation, for poetry and literature. And then I want to clap my hands and dance to contemporary Christian music. I want to speak in tongues and shout Amen when I feel the spirit.” Sometimes I think I’ll have to wait until I get to heaven to fulfil them! Thank you for opening your heart and making me feel less alone with my own faith experiences. I wish you well in your search for a spiritual home for you and your family and I pray for blessing on you wherever you may be, because God is already there with you. 🙂 x

    • OH beautiful friend, how my heart longed to know He’d use these words to incite a little conversation about living the mosaic life. I didn’t plan this place but God has his finger on me while I’m in it. I’ve loved every season of my life as a believer but this is my favorite. I’m having such a good time chasing God. Glad to know you’re on a similar path. Thanks so much for reading Joy. Praying complete restoration of your health and blessings for you and your family.

      • ” I didn’t plan this place but God has his finger on me while I’m in it” Amen to this too, LIsha! The Anchor for our souls holds us steady wherever we may land. No place is without His grace. And I’m so thankful for that. Bless you, lovely friend, for sharing your spiritual journey and being brave enough to bare your soul as your story unfolds. God will reward you for your transparency. Even if there are no further comments here, please believe others will see and read and be encouraged. 🙂 x

  4. Wonderful post! So glad I visited. And God simply wants us to pull up to His bountiful table and be fed, feasting at the feet of Christ where it’s possible to taste of all the different goodness He provides 🙂

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