In the fall of 2013, I (Alissa) began meeting with a couple friends through a common interest in reading Rob Bell’s Love Wins. The idea had been that we would get together for breakfast each Friday to discuss our thoughts on the book and the idea of hell. But we never did open the book, because that first morning we found something even better: a safe place to discuss our hidden doubts about the Christian faith.
Over the next several months, we got together each week to share and support each other as we wrestled through our beliefs, took breaks from church, and maneuvered relationships in the midst of doubt. Many times, we were speaking our true thoughts on faith, church, and God out loud for the first time. We were relieved to find these thoughts both accepted and understood in each other’s company. One friend began to jokingly call our meetings “Doubters Anonymous.” Slowly, in the midst of this solidarity and permission to be our true selves, the weight and pain of our doubts began to feel less heavy.
Over time, I became more and more convinced that others could use the type of support we had been lucky enough to stumble upon. Early the next year, an online community was born.
Since then, the group has grown to include over 90 people, of varying backgrounds and beliefs, wrestling in some way through a faith shift or deconstruction. We have supported each other through the first inklings of doubt and the most intense thrashings, sometimes the loss of religion and sometimes the return to it. We have borne witness to each other’s confusion, growing pains, and healing. We have said I’m sorry and me too and I hear you. Because, despite the wide spectrum of our beliefs, we are united in our support of each other’s mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. And despite our uncertainties, we believe in the value of a safe place. We have seen firsthand, in ourselves and each other, what a difference it can make.