When You Wake Up in the Wrong Life: How to Heal After a Faith Crisis

In the Fall of 2014, I found myself on a sunlit hillside looking out over my town at the sinking sun. I could see my rooftop where my husband and three children were waiting for me to come home and make dinner. It was a crisp, beautiful evening and on the outside, my life seemed just peachy. 

But I was a mess. 

I had just told my friends and family that I was leaving the church and religion of my childhood. For personal reasons, the faith no longer served my authentic self. I was forced to make a choice between myself, and my family heritage. I felt like I had woken up to a life I didn’t choose. In the fallout, I experienced anxiety, depression, and a whole lot of fear until I hit my rock bottom. That moment on the hillside marked a turning point in my entire neuro framework. 

I began to dig myself out, one miserable, beautiful step at a time. How? With purpose. 

Purpose is the antidote for depression. You must begin to establish a deep sense of purpose to live at your highest capacity. What is your purpose? Only you can decide your specific contribution to humanity, but your maximum joy and light is the greatest gift you can bestow on all of us. In fact, if everyone on our planet were filled with purpose and happiness, most of our problems would simply melt away. 

Here’s a brief overview of what I call the “6 Steps to a Life On Purpose”. There are several more steps in between, but these will get you started. 

Take Accountability 

When we’re hurting, it’s tempting to blame people or institutions for the way our lives have turned out. After all, we wouldn’t be in this mess if it weren’t for them. Right??  Learning to let go of anger and resentment is the first step toward healing because anger keeps you stuck. Believe it or not, our lives are exactly the way we crafted them to be. Every relationship, life decision, career choice, or financial status is there because of our previous beliefs. Take full responsibility for your choices so far, and recognize that you have full control over your life now as you build it. 

Master Your Mindset 

How you view yourself and the world around you is the single most powerful tool you have to let go of pain and create the life you want. If you want change, you MUST change the thoughts inside your head. Your thoughts are the power tools with which you construct your future. With shabby tools, you’ll build a shabby life. Start watching what you say to yourself. Practice feeding yourself positive thoughts to replace the negative. It will take practice, but in time you will retrain your mind to see love instead of fear. No single effort is as critical or as impactful than this singular skill - to change your thoughts. 

Learn to Like Yourself 

Prior to my faith crisis I had heard of “self love” and thought it was a weak-sauce, self-centered waste of time. LOL. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This is a CRITICAL step if you are to create a life of joy and success. Just like taking care of any friend or relationship, the formula for self love is simple. Figure out what you like, and give it to yourself as often as possible. Yoga, books, meditation, hikes, mimosas, TV shows, hikes, parties, you name it. Be sure to also spend time being quiet and listening to yourself as you would a friend. Tell yourself how awesome you are, how much you appreciate your own growth, and yes; tell yourself, “I love you”. It feels weird, but it works. 

Decide What You Want 

This is the exciting part! Once you’ve let go of the fear and anger, you can start thinking about what you want life to be like. This is where you can stop looking back, and daydream about the future. Think about all the aspects of your life you wish were different (friendships, how you spend your time, career, money, relationships, etc.) Write all of these down and open your mind to the crazy fantasy dreamworld life you’d like to have. Read these thoughts to yourself every night before bed. It may seem silly at first but I promise you, this is where the magic begins. 

Make a Plan 

All the dreaming in the world will not make your physical world change. If you want a different reality, start taking micro steps in a new direction. Choose one area you listed, and brainstorm all the small steps it would take to bring that new desire into your world. List those steps in order of priority, and begin systematically working on each one. Keep in mind you will likely experience self doubt and fear. Inner voices from your past may creep back in and tell you you’re selfish, worldly, or even evil. When this happens, return to step 3 and establish a deeper connection with yourself. Remember, love conquers all. 

Overhaul Your Habits 

This is where the rubber meets the road. Whatever you’ve been doing to get you where you are, will not get you where you want to be. This is a hard pill to swallow, but do it quickly and then brace for major changes. Figure out what habits, mindset, skills, connections, or information you need to begin. Then, start doing them! Research how to start and maintain habits. The simplest way is just to begin. Stop thinking about your limitations, and just start. 

Coming out of a religious paradigm can sometimes feel like landing on mars. The world looks harsh, unfamiliar, and unknown. With a sense of purpose, you point yourself in a new direction that strips away sadness, anxiety, and depression. Follow these steps and you’ll begin to climb out of the hole. You’ll see massive change in your outlook, productivity, and a world of possibilities will open up. I wish you so much joy and fulfillment on your path to recovery! Be kind and patient with yourself. A life on purpose, is a life worth loving.

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