Pulled from the Shoreline in Search of Spacious Spirituality: The Journeys of Women of Evangelical Christian Backgrounds

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This study explored the lived experience of spiritual distress (SD) from the perspective of four women aged 25-35 years from evangelical Christian (EC) backgrounds in Western Canada. Using a qualitative design, interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) and semi-structured interviews, this exploratory study revealed SD to be a dynamic, tension-filled, ongoing journey. The journey is metaphorically characterized by four ocean-themed, non-linear phases: 1) inhabiting the familiar yet limiting shoreline of EC; 2) being pulled out to the expansive, unknown sea; 3) navigating the storm and contending with existential uncertainty, relational wounding, and traumatic experiences within EC; and 4) floating in an unfinished, yet more tenable and spacious spirituality. Importantly, all four phases were affected by two undercurrents: 1) ongoing tensions, and 2) isolation and loss. These findings illuminate an SD journey that pulled participants from the containment of EC to a more nourishing, spacious spirituality more aligned with their values and burgeoning self-authorship. This thesis hopes to honor oft-silenced stories of SD and encourage deeper awareness and understanding regarding SD in social work research, policy, practice, and education.
religion, spirituality, evangelical Christianity, interpretative phenomenological analysis, spiritual distress
De Vynck, E. A. (2023). Pulled from the shoreline in search of spacious spirituality: the journeys of women of evangelical Christian backgrounds (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca.