216: Preserving and Strengthening Relationships During Faith Transitions

leap-of-faithMost listeners to Mormon Matters, like all seekers, are undergoing a faith transition—hopefully one of continuous deepening into greater richness of experience and peace. Often, however, faith transitions feel more like “crises” for persons in the midst of the reorientation, as well as for family members and others close to them who are not sharing the same experiences and therefore fear that something dangerous is going on. These fears often arise out of love and concern for the person, but they can also emerge from that person sensing that their own interior world and equilibrium might be jeopardized through continued close association. The person undergoing the transition is also often fearful. Are these questions and feelings wrong? Will I be ever be able to stabilize within a new orientation to God, the universe, and those I love? These and many other factors at play when relationships are strained as someone undergoes a big change make for treacherous ground. What are some key ways to understand these dynamics and thus be better prepared for all that might come in these interactions?

In this episode, Katie Langston, Lisa Tensmeyer Hansen, and Lisa Butterworth join Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon for a discussion of faith transitions, primarily focusing on things the persons undergoing them might consider as they interact with those closest to them: Should they speak up, and how much should they share? How will they know if it is the right thing to do in their particular situation? What are some considerations to keep in mind that might help them understand less-than-ideal reactions that might come from those they are in primary relationships with? The conversation offers positive framings about the ultimate importance for healthy growth of these transitions as well as best practices and ways to prepare emotionally and spiritually before engaging others with whom someone is no longer on the same wavelength. What ideas and framings have most helped the panelists in their own journeys?

Please listen and then share your comments, stories, and best ideas below!



Information and registration form for the conference, “Navigating the Borderlands,” 4 April 2014, Salt Lake City, Utah

Mormon Matters 71: “Make Love AND War: Maintaining Positive Relationships During Faith Transitions” (Podcast with slideshow based on Dan Wotherspoon’s 2012 Houston Mormon Stories conference presentation)

Mormon Matters 146: “Relationships First: Mormon Parents Face Their Child’s Faith Transition”

Mormon Matters 153-154: “Integrity with Self and Family: Parents on Sharing Their Faith Transition with Their Children”

Dan Wotherspoon, “All We Have,”Sunstone editorial, May 2005 

Dan Wotherspoon, “Breaks in the Sky,” Sunstone editorial, April 2006

“Hero” by David Crosby and Phil Collins (YouTube video)




9 comments for “216: Preserving and Strengthening Relationships During Faith Transitions

  1. Mike C
    March 22, 2014 at 9:04 am

    Loved the podcast! Very helpful. Thanks.

  2. Brian
    March 24, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Such a great discussion. Perspective is everything. We all need to broaden our perspectives and temper what we “know” in order to really be able to bear one another’s burdens

  3. Jess
    March 25, 2014 at 3:25 am

    Loved the podcast! Primarily because as a practicing marriage and family therapist I felt such a connection to the relational and developmental ideas shared by these three women who are clearly experts in this rich and soul stretching field. I know Katie has not yet started her grad program, but it is obvious you know what you’re talking about and that you are going into the right field. I absolutely loved the the garden of Eden metaphor that we must not only step out of our comfort zone to gain knowledge but that we also must inevitably experience pain in order to grow. Meshing that with your Max Lucado story Dan about our identity and security as children of God creates what for me is a powerful way to view mortality, sin (which I define as disharmony in our relationships) and redemption. The trauma we all experience as a result of mortality creates the very conditions of needs, pain and insecurity that a) make growth toward a Godlike love possible, and b) make sin (us hurting other individuals either intentionally or not) inevitable. Hence the need for a Redeemer with perfect empathy for both the victim and the offender (as so well described by Alma, Enoch, and in works like the Peacegiver). As a convert to the church my personal faith transitions and differentiation from my family of origin naturally is going to look different than much of what you described, but my personal testimony lies in my very real and personal struggles in relationships, and the way I feel my relationship with the God who weeps has transformed those relationships not only through his perfect empathy, but through the personal security as so well illustrated by Dan’s Max Lucado story, in that by becoming free of the worry of how I’m being perceived by others I have simultaneously become free to fully recognize and focus on the needs of others. Of course as I describe this transformation I must make it clear that it is ongoing and far from complete. Thanks again for your stimulating discussion.

  4. Jenny
    March 30, 2014 at 11:32 am

    This helped me so much! I signed up for the symposium. I can’t wait!

  5. anonymous
    April 6, 2014 at 2:11 am

    The symposium sounds fascinating! Will the audio be posted on Sunstone site as with previous symposia? Here’s one vote for sharing in this time of so many struggling with whether/how to stay or leave.

  6. Stefanie
    November 24, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    Which audios from the symposium are being referred to? I’m trying to find them, but there are SO many to sort through!

    Help please! Thanks 😉

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