Friends, we are excited about the first unit of Faithwalking Foundations – which we are calling The Pathway to Personal Awareness and Freedom – which is made up of Modules 1 and 2. We have had several groups go through the retreats or online classes now and would like to invite you to consider exploring them yourself or encouraging someone else to sign up. Below is a summary of the content of each module, followed by a video of one of our recent participants, John, sharing his experience of the modules and the impact they have had on his life thus far. (We would love for you to share the video with others by clicking the paper airplane icon in the top right corner of the embedded video below.)
For dates of upcoming Module 1 and 2 courses and to register, click here.
Audio and text versions available below
My name is John Stephenson. I am a husband/dad and pastor. The impact of Faithwalking Foundations (FWF) for me has been subtle yet significant. Before I began the course I struggled with leading from a place of insecurity and fear. Without being aware of it, much of what motivated me throughout my life was to be affirmed and admired by people. In school, I worked to discover what I needed to do in order to acquire the attention and admiration of my teachers. In my work life, I worked hard to earn it from my bosses and supervisors. In my ministry, I worked for the affirmation and admiration of my congregation, staff, and supervising pastors. When I preached, I sought out positive feedback. And for the most part, in school, in work, and in church I received admiration and affirmation. And yet, no matter how much positive feedback I received, it was never enough. And because it was never enough, I was left feeling a little empty, fearful, and insecure. When I received negative feedback, it was devastating. I had a very hard time dealing with it.
In FWF, I discovered that this need for admiration and affirmation had its root in a very early experience I had as a child in which I received what I took as a negative comment about me. Oddly, looking back on that moment, I can see that I just as easily could have interpreted that comment in a positive way. But the meaning I made of it was negative. I believed in that moment that in order for me to be safe in this world I could not be seen in a negative way. I believed in that moment that my worth and value were based on what people thought of me. I made a vow to never look bad and to always acquire people’s admiration and affirmation. I learned that this vow had unconsciously become in me a core value, a bedrock belief which shaped so much of my behavior. As I examined that vow, where it came from, and the implications and impact of that vow in my life, I saw that it was based on some faulty assumptions that did not line up with what I had come to believe about my relationship with God. In FWF, I was invited to replace that old negative vow with a new one that is based on God’s love. I articulated a new declaration which is three words: I am beloved. In time, with a lot of prayer and reflection as well as the help of my coach and other helpful conversations, I left that old negative vow behind.
Life now feels less anxious. I am not striving for the admiration and affection of others as I once did. I still enjoy receiving it, but I now live in the knowledge that I don’t depend on it and my value is not based on it. I now live with the knowledge that my value is firmly established in the reality of being one of God’s beloved children. My preaching has become more confident and courageous. My conversations with people have felt much less anxious. I feel unencumbered, free, and relaxed.
My daughter was recently confirmed. Before Confirmation Sunday I asked her if she would like me to have another pastor confirm her so I could just be “dad.” She said, “No, I don’t want anyone else to say the words.” So, it came time in the service and I had confirmed around 20 kids before she came up. When she knelt down to be confirmed, I was overwhelmed with emotion and felt tears welling up. I could not speak. I began to cry, my wife began to cry (who was standing behind her). I looked down at my daughter, and she had started to cry. I whispered the words into the microphone and when I finished, I caught my breath, held up a finger, and said to the congregation, “Point of personal privilege.” I stepped around the rail where she had knelt and hugged her. I did not care what anyone thought. I was authentically being myself, loving my daughter and living in the moment. It was wonderful. I could not have done that before FWF. I feel a freedom I’ve not felt before.