Ron (not his actual name) is a man I’ve begun to visit with regularly. He invited me, along with two other friends of his to simply sit and listen to his story for approximately one hour. I was spellbound the entire time.
Ron is involved in a spiritual formation curriculum entitled ‘FaithWalking,’ (https://www.faithwalking.us/) that goes far deeper and is, in my opinion, far more potent, than any other I’ve seen. Most spiritual formation curriculums tend to be about the transfer of theological information, assuming that education is the problem. While that’s often true in part, FaithWalking suggests that those dysfunctions which exist in our relationship with God and with others were formed in response to 2 or 3 emotionally traumatic events we've experienced in our past, each of which involved being shamed, perhaps severely, in one way or another. In response to each of these ‘shaming-events,’ we, quite understandably, make an unspoken ‘vow’ that we will do everything in our power to avoid experiencing shame of that sort…ever again. The problem is that our vow, in time, can solidify into a barrier that prevents a more significant, more meaningful relationship with God and others. Step 1 of FaithWalking requires Ron to simply tell a few friends about a) those key shaming-events in his life, b) the corresponding vows that he made in response to those events and, c) the unhealthy spiritual and relational patterns that have resulted from his those vows.
I don’t yet know what Step 2 involves, but I wonder if it has to do with delegitimizing the idols (worth-givers) that so often set us up to be shamed. God opposes idols not because he is insecure, but because he knows what idols do to those whom he loves. Idols are fickle, prone to make increasing demands upon us, only to shame us (i.e. decree us ‘worthless’) when we cannot keep up with their escalating demands.
Idols are frauds and undoubtedly come in many forms. However, I find that the following are the most common among men, all of which promise that if a man can only obtain (and retain) these worth-givers and/or enjoy their favor, ‘all of this will be yours.’ (i.e. You will be somebody, you will rule your world).
*Physical/Athletic Prowess: Ball field
*Sexual Conquest: Bedroom
*Financial Power: Billfold
Vocational Altitude: Boardroom
For we church goers, I might add the following, all which I’ve wielded, and trusted in, more than I wish to admit:
Moral Superiority: Blamelessness
Theological Knowledge: Bible
Confessional Precision: (I can’t think of a word that starts with a ‘B?!’ :-)
While I have a lot to learn about FaithWalking, and will undoubtedly learn more from Ron as he makes his way through the various steps, it seemed very much worth passing along.
Finally, I never tire of saying thank you and I only wish I could say it more often and more creatively. Thank you for, once again, making this mission of spiritual and civic renewal, possible!
The Daniel Foundation
*Taken from 'Season of Life' by Jeff Marx