At first, I was nervous to admit to almost all of my friends that I was going through a deconstruction of faith and I still haven’t told any of my family members because I know they’d take what I’d said to mean that I’d “backslidden” or turned away from God, and that’s not the case at all.
Whenever I do describe what my interpretation of deconstruction is, I always tell people I’m looking at nearly all the religious beliefs I have and closely examining how I came to hold them, whether they were fed to me or borne of conclusions I reached on my own, and so on. Through that process, when I find a belief that I am having trouble justifying currently, I do not automatically discard it, but look for alternative perspectives that might (hopefully) help me reshape my beliefs into something that’s more in line with what my life has become.
That’s at least my definition of what deconstruction is, and I don’t hold back admitting that the way it feels sometimes is like the footprints in the picture that accompanies this post: akin to a purposeful but sometimes wandering journey that goes off in all directions. I’ve been very surprised about the ways people have responded when I’ve talked about it. More often than not, they say something like “That sounds like what I need to do,” which has led to them confessing that the God they were brought up to believe in is no longer justifiable, but they still have a faith of some sort and are not willing to give it up. So far, people have not been outwardly disapproving when I’ve disclosed my deconstruction to them. They’ve been fascinated, which has surprised me a little because I know I’m not painting deconstruction as a glamorous process.
Two of the first people I told said that it seemed like deconstruction would lead to an overall stronger faith. I noted that I hoped in my case it would, but that I also realized it could potentially lead to becoming an atheist. That possibility doesn’t usually scare me.
Most recently, I explained my deconstruction in a nutshell to a fellow staff member at a music festival I was working at. We were both sitting in the staff compound charging our phones and the conversation featured many topics, ranging from relational struggles to the bands we were going to see that weekend.
Inevitably, this person wanted to know what had caused me to move to Ireland, and that meant having to talk about the church I used to work for and my faith in general. As we were chatting, the individual mentioned that although she was raised to have faith, she wasn’t too sure what she believed anymore and was in a kind of flux.
I smiled and told her, “To be honest, I know exactly what you mean.” Although she was momentarily taken aback by what I’d said, she was very eager to learn more about deconstruction and said, “I never knew such a thing existed but it definitely sounds like something I’m interested in.”
We exchanged details then, and she wants me to share resources with her. Once she gets in touch with me, I’ll definitely be suggesting places like The Way Station, as well as some of the podcasts I listen to regularly.
I still am carefully testing the waters as far as admitting to others that I’m going through a deconstruction process. Ultimately, I know what they think about it isn’t important anyway and this is my own journey, but that knowledge doesn’t entirely conquer my hesitation. But, what I’ve learned recently is that maybe I don’t need to hold back as much as I’d originally thought.
My experiences so far indicate deconstruction is something people are very open to and supportive of even if they don’t necessarily engage in it themselves. Maybe by speaking about it, I could encourage others to recognize that it’s definitely okay to question their beliefs and that although doing so is scary at times, it’s extremely worthwhile.