How life coaching can help you in your faith journey
What are the benefits of working with a life coach during your faith crisis? Honestly, many people wrestling with a faith crisis don’t automatically think to themselves, “oh, I’ll hire a life coach to help me!” Life coaching, in general, is still a fairly young field and can be misunderstood. But life coaching is a powerful tool designed to help individuals find and express their best selves, to grow, and to move forward, in both defining and achieving their goals. These goals might be personal, social, in relationships, in career and business, health, and yes, spiritual in nature.
I believe there are some unique ways in which life coaching can help you through your faith crisis. They include:
–Recognizing you are not alone
–Navigating the move to a more nuanced way of thinking
–Providing support through the personal and emotional upheaval
–Finding what the Divine really means to you
–Learning to trust yourself and embrace your personal authority
–Getting comfortable with uncertainty
–Finding your faith through your doubts
I’m going to break these down in more detail, but first, since I run into so many people who don’t really know what coaching is, I will briefly explain what life coaching is and is not.
What is life coaching?
Life coaching, broadly speaking, is a partnership between you and the coach in order to maximize your personal and professional potential. It is a process of being curious, asking questions, and digging deep to find the best expression of yourself. As a coach, I believe that each individual has the answers they need for their own life. But sometimes life gets complicated. You can feel lost or unbalanced, not really knowing what those answers are. My role, as a coach, is to help you find those answers. I am here to support you, hold you accountable, and explore exciting possibilities in your life. I honor your experiences and the journey you are on.
Spiritual life coaching, specifically, creates a space where you can safely explore your faith and your feelings, while honoring the answers you find for yourself. I offer support andinsight as
you travel this new path. When people go through periods of doubt or questioning, it can feel very lonely and unpredictable. My goal is to support you as you learn to align your life to your own moral compass, while retaining the positive you find in your faith community. If you are experiencing a “faith crisis” or “dark night of the soul,” spiritual life coaching can help you make sense of your journey.
What life coaching is NOT
Coaching is not therapy
Life coaches do not diagnosis or treat mental disorders. It is nota substitute for professional therapy or counseling. Coaching focuses on the present, while looking toward creating the future. Unlike therapy, in coaching, you are the expert of your life. Coaching is “client driven,” meaning you determine your desired outcomes and agenda.
Coaching is not consulting.
A consultant or expert identifies problems, then prescribes and helps implement solutions. It is the consultant’s sense of the problem and implementations of his/her methods that drive the relationship.
Coaching is not training or mentoring.
Mentors have traveled a particular path, gaining expertise that they use to guide/teach others “how to” based on their pathway, not yours. The mentor’s ideas and experiences drive the relationship. While I have been through my own faith crisis, I believe you have your own path and I want to help you navigate the best possible route on your pathway.
Your faith “journey”
There are many terms people use to describe their questioning and doubts—faith crisis, “dark night of the soul,” faith transition, growth, transformation, development, or faith journey, to name a few. Regardless of what you call it, change and growth always include some pain and frustration. Throughout my posts and website, I usually refer to this period of intense questioning as a faith crisis, but I believe “crisis” is only a part of it. There will be times when you feel likeyour life is in crisis mode, but other times when it feels more transformative. Coaching can help you throughout all of these different emotions and perspectives.
There are some unique challenges of going through a faith crisis: feelings of isolation, wrestling with the move from black and white thinking to nuanced thinking, personal and emotional upheaval, stress in relationships (with spouse, children, family, and friends , even your larger faith community), redefining your relationship with the Divine, embracing your own spiritual authority and autonomy, getting comfortable with uncertainty, and finding your faith in your questions. These are hard things to tackle on your own. It can take longer than you’d like it to and is a journey full of ups and downs, hidden pitfalls, as well as glorious panoramas. Getting coaching through a faith crisis can help you in each of these areas of your journey.
As a life coach, I see my role as being that of a navigatoror co-pilot. You are the one making decisions and choosing where to go, I am there to help you read the map, support you in your choices, and help you navigate some of the trickier parts of the journey. Together we will explore possible answers and, when useful, I will share my experiences. And always, I will join in both the challenges and excitement of your faith development.
So, just how can coaching help me through my faith crisis?
You are not alone
Because spiritual growth is such a deeply personal matter, I have found that individuals
experiencing a faith crisis, transformation, or “dark night of the soul” often feel like they are the only ones with questions. If you are part of a faith community that teaches certainty and places great value on having “the Truth,” then when you start questioning the things being taught/preached, you quickly realize that it’s not always safe to voice your doubts. Doubters are often perceived as lacking faith, possibly wanting to sin, and obviously not being obedient enough. If you are deeply involved in your faith communitythis type of rhetoric is incredibly isolating and damaging. You are often leftfeeling like you are not enough or that you are broken. People might tell you to ignore your questions simply trust the leaders. But despite those feelings, you are not alone. There are thousands of us—sincere individuals with sincere questions. Your questions deserve to be examined.
Through life coaching you will come to find that your experiences are actually a normal part of faith development and you do not have to travel this path in isolation. My top priority is to provide a safe, confidential place to process your questions and to know you are not alone.
From black and white to yes, and…
Most religious institutions operate from a world view that everything is black and white. While there are some valid reasons for that mode of operation, binary thinking is incredibly limiting to spiritual growth. This either/or thinking is usually such a common part of our mindset that it takes practice to recognize it and continued practice to learn how to find/live a more nuanced approach to life.
As your life coach I can help you recognize the limitations of binary thinking and expand your world view to “yes, and…” (link coming). I will challenge your black and white assumptions while exploring what life looks like in full color. It is my job to ask questions and encourage you to search for deep answers.
Support through the upheaval
Moving through a faith crisis can take an emotional toll. Internally, you are wrestling with one of the most intimate and primal needs—the need to understand your spirituality. Externally, life seems to proceed as usual. You have the same tasks, but they can feel overwhelming and people don’t necessarily see your internal struggle. Keeping up appearances is exhausting. Trying to explain yourself to people who seem “rock solid” in their faith is daunting.
One of my goals as a life coach is to help you find your own inner strength and courage as you move through these experiences. This will ultimately lead to greater peace, grace, and love for yourself that can be extended to those around you.
Experiencing a faith crisis does not happen in a vacuum. People around you will be affected as well. It can cause a strain on marriages, alienate parents and sibling, confuse children, and leave you open to criticism and gossip among members in your faith community. It is helpful to have someone with whom you can practice authenticity.
Our coaching sessions can be a type of “practice field” in how to deal with tricky relationships. I am here to help you work through some of these difficulties, devise strategies, and provide comfort.
Finding the Divine authentically, on your own terms
Almost everyone goes through a progression of their faith, sometimes referred to as “stages of faith.” As children we base our beliefs in God on what we are taught at home. As we become an integrated part of a faith community, we often look to our religious leaders for answers about the Divine and one’s relationship with the Divine. But eventually we start to take our personal experiences and try and make sense of them. Our experiences may not always jive with what we’ve been taught. We might even feel angry at, abandoned, or betrayed by God and our religious leaders.
This is an incredible time when you get to examine your relationship with the Divine, on your own terms. As your life coach, I provide space and time to examine your feelings. I will ask you to dig deep, to find your truest feelings about the Divine. We will peel back layers of belief that are based on society, your religious community, your family, and find your core, authentic beliefs about the Divine.
Embracing personal spiritual authority and trusting yourself
Gaining a deeper understanding of your feelings and beliefs about God requires that you trust yourself and the process. It’s a step towards spiritual autonomy, towards embracing your personal authority. If you’ve spent your life believing someone else was the authority on your spirituality (i.e. religious leaders) this can feel uncomfortable, maybe even dangerous. But owning your spiritual authority is powerfuland freeing.
A life coach can support you through this process, provide information on natural stages of faith, and share resources of wisdom collected throughout the ages. I will encourage and aid you in this journey, but never force you to think a particular way or to move faster than you are ready. I will always honor your personal authority.
Getting comfortable with uncertainty
It seems to me that the more certain you are of a particular idea, the harder you fall when that idea comes into question. I’ve come to realize that certainty is the opposite of faith. As humans we want so badly to be certain. We almost need to be certain. We want to know, to be sure, in an attempt to give us some semblance of control in a chaotic world. Doubting those things we once were so certain of feels scary and dangerous.
In many religious circles, the word “doubt” is often a dirty word, the enemy, and should be avoided at all costs. It can get to the point where being uncertain is treated as a sin in and of itself. I have found a lot of wisdom in the book The Sin of Certainty, by Peter Enns. I like how he frames doubt: “Doubt is only the enemy of faith when we equate faith with certainty in our thinking…Doubt means spiritual relocation is happening. It’s God’s way of saying, ‘Time to move on.’”
Learning to be okay with the uncertainty is tricky, but it’s an invaluable lesson to learn as we navigate our faith journey. I can walk with you through the unsettling and downright uncomfortable times when you run up against uncertainty. Through life coaching, you can find ways to lean into the discomfort and eventually embrace the uncertainty of life.
Finding your faith through your questions
We cannot grow, gain experience, or find wisdom if we don’t ask questions. So many people (especially in religious institutions) say that doubt is the opposite of faith. I disagree. I believe it takes a great amount of faith to question your religion. Doubt is an integral part of faith and your willingness to question is an indication of great faith. Having doubts and asking questions is a type of “leap of faith” and is imperative to spiritual growth.
As a life coach I work to help you realize that your doubts do not make you faithless. You will find greater faith as you move through your questions, a faith that is more mature and substantial than you’ve experienced in the past.
From faith crisis to faith development
Moving through the different stages of faith development is a normal experience, one that is necessary for deepening your faith. It feels like a crisis at first. You go through stages of grief. You’ll have moments of despair and moments of elation. As Brené Brown has said, “only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” Embarking on this faith journey is an act of bravery. It takes courage and commitment. Many people do it on their ownbut having a life coach by your side can provide you with added comfort, understanding, and insight on your journey. I believe in the power of coaching and have experienced the benefits first hand. If you are wrestling with questions and doubts, I hope you will consider my services, or those of another coach, as you move through your evolving faith experiences.
If you are interested in finding out more about my services, sign up for a free consultation.