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Can you Reclaim Faith?

By Ternt Clifford


Where Reclaiming Faith Began

My story starts with Christmas, which, for a person of faith, seems fitting in many ways.


It was December of 2022. And with each ornament, I hung on the tree, I displaced one more bit of the hurt that had been left to rot in my soul. I was forced to make room for every Christmas mug to have a place in the cabinet, which was already overflowing with non-Christmas mugs. Every snowman pulled out of storage, every Santa Claus that desperately desired display, and every Christmas light ready to twinkle—as each object reclaimed a place in my home for the holiday season, I was also reclaiming a piece of my joy.


But my story isn’t actually about Christmas. 


This is a story about reclaiming Christmas. More importantly, I am reclaiming my life.  You see, I left my husband around that same time the year prior. I left my abusive marriage.  And in the aftermath of leaving abuse, I did a lot of work to reclaim what I’d lost.


I rebuilt a life that I loved. However, Christmas felt like the last frontier; the calendar bound this memory, and I was finally waiting to be set free. And as I put the angel atop the tree, it felt good. It felt final. It felt like a culmination of hard work. 


I’d done it. I’d reclaimed my life—or so I thought. 

But then God does what God does best and stirred up a question in my soul that would keep me up at night: Are you sure?


The Work of Reclaiming Faith


And that question sparked something inside of me. 


God asked me a question, and I knew that reclaiming my life post-abuse wasn’t enough. I also needed to reclaim my faith. 


To be clear, I hadn’t ever lost faith. Well, not entirely. But how other people of faith received me had been made complex and complicated. When I came out as gay, my whole life turned upside down. And when I got married, it only got harder—not only due to the abuse I suffered inside of it, but due to the secondary abuse I suffered at the hand of the church because of it. 


How had I never considered this? I had been so intentional in the aftermath of divorce. I had recognized my trauma and done the work required to grow from it. Reclamation had been my primary strategy in regaining my life as a survivor of domestic violence.

Yet in the aftermath of my divorce from organized religion—a divorce which, in this case, I hadn’t even chosen for myself—I hadn’t approached it with even a fraction of this intentionality. 


Rather than reclamation of any kind, I had settled. I accepted the piece of pie that was offered to me, even though I knew it was smaller than the pieces of pie my non-LGBTQ friends and family were receiving. 

And so, I embarked upon a road toward healing, reclaiming the practice of a faith I had long held so dear. 


What does Reclaiming Faith encompass?


Reclaiming Faith is a tender yet practical approach to uniting the spirituality you love with the religion you've lost. After surviving marital abuse and religious discrimination, I learned to reconcile my sexual and spiritual identities and now vulnerably invite you to learn from my journey.


Modeled after my process of healing, I teach you how to: 

- Read the Bible as though you live among its pages

- Worship as though "church" was a personal sanctuary, not a public one

-Recognize the need to engage spirituality with compassion, creativity, and imagination

-Learn from the diversity of Christian thought rather than be stifled by the monolith of conservatism

- Look inside yourself like God dwells there (because God does!)


To read more about this work, I invite you to engage with my book:


How else can we work together?


Aside from my book, there are two fantastic ways that we can continue to learn and grow together. 


The first is my weekly substack newsletter, ReWriting Faith.

Do you like the idea of regularly receiving:

  • Reimagined Bible stories

  • Meaningful spiritual practices

  • Encouragement for your reclamation journey

  • Poems ripped from the pages of my journal? 

When you sign up, there is a free and a paid option. Free because the community we can find here together ought to have no barrier to entry. I paid because I’ve learned the value of support. For me, writing is a ministry. I hope that my words accompany those who need them. And while my heart desires to provide them for free, my bank account suggests that support is also necessary. 


The second is that I offer 1:1 spiritual direction.


Spiritual direction is the opportunity to accompany someone through their spiritual journey, guide them into more profound spiritual practice and reflection, and bear witness to their truth more fully emerging.


My job is to see you and, more importantly, to see God in you. You have the wisdom and the ability within you already. Still, it is my privilege through spiritual direction to bear witness to your power as we journey together toward the fullness of who God made you to be.


To learn more and to consider booking an appointment, visit reclaimingfaith.org


Join us Tuesday, June 11, 2024, on the Beacon of Light Podcast at 6:30 pm Mountain for this Conversation! 

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