When it comes to Reconstruction, don’t accept any substitutes. Don’t settle for less. Don’t give up because it’s starting to get hard. Don’t tell yourself that what you’ve got is “good enough” and stop working towards actual, true and authentic freedom from every last shred of toxic Christianity.
I know too many people who have stopped short of actual Reconstruction and it’s nearly more depressing than watching someone endure the pain of an un-deconstructed Christian faith.
Usually, those who stop short of pursuing Reconstruction do so because the pain they have just endured from Deconstruction has knocked them on their spiritual butts and they just want the pain to stop.
I get it. I’ve been there.
As we’ve discussed here on this blog several times, Deconstruction is very painful. You lose fellowship, friends and family as you shed toxic Christian doctrines that have bound you up in fear for years.
And once you’ve started to pull on that thread of Deconstruction you start to discover just how many other doctrines and beliefs you held for so long are connected. You start doubting one thing and you’re hardly finished deconstructing that before you start to realize you need to deconstruct two other doctrines. And then as you work through those next two you find a few more.
It seems like you’ll never stop Deconstructing. And for many that Deconstruction only ends when they finally let go of their faith in Christ and then they slip totally out of the faith and find themselves with nothing – and no one – to hold on to.
My hope is to help people avoid this fate.
Yes, on one hand our Deconstruction is never finished. In the sense that we should always hold loosely to our faith and maintain an attitude of humility about what we believe. “I could be wrong…” should be our default position. After all, we’ve been wrong before, and as we’ve deconstructed our faith we’ve learned that “being right” is part of the disease we need to repent of and be healed of. Trading one set of dogmatic beliefs for another is not progress. It sets us up for another hard fall later on when we discover that some of those new beliefs were also not as sure as we once thought they were.
So, we need to embrace mystery and become comfortable with basking in the awe and wonder of God without needing the false comfort of certainty to sustain us.
But, on the other hand, there’s no need to let go of our faith in Christ. Our hope in Jesus as an historical figure, and a genuine revelation of who God is and what God is really like isn’t something we have to doubt. Certainly, some of the details may be fuzzy, and we may not “know” as much as we’d like to know, but as people who are learning to embrace mystery and redefine the terms of our faith, we have good reasons to trust that Jesus was right about the character of God.
And that’s something that we should focus on in our ongoing Reconstruction process. Thankfully, that is the easiest and most pleasant part of our Reconstruction journey. The rest can be much more difficult. Which is why, as I said earlier, so many stop short of completing this process.
So, what are the painful parts of Reconstruction that some find too painful to walk through? Here are a few examples:
*Learning to admit that we’ve been hurt in our Deconstruction process – Some of us tend to put on a brave face and we even tell ourselves that we’re ok. But, if we take some time to really examine our heart we’ll discover that we have deep wounds that we’ve just tried to band-aid over, or ignore completely. Until we look at our own wounds, we cannot heal from them and experience true Reconstruction.
*Taking time to practice forgiveness – This is the most important step, I believe. Once we admit we’ve been hurt, then we need to name those who hurt us. We need to write down their names. We need to admit just how much those people hurt us and then…then we need to start learning to forgive them.
*Adopting an attitude of gratitude – Author Ann Voskamp has done some marvelous work when it comes to learning to practice gratitude as a way of life. It’s much more than having a positive attitude and turning that frown upside down stuff. It’s about facing real pain and living through real difficulties with a determined resolve to look for the good in all of it. Being grateful is one way we rewire our brains and retrain our minds to look for the positive rather than always fixate on the negative. That simple shift in our daily practice of perspective can literally transform the neural pathways in our brain and set us up for more joy in life. But, as I’ve said above, this will take some time and some discipline to really incorporate into our daily routine.
*Re-learning how to connect with God – Our prior spiritual practices were all about serving an institution that ruled us through threats of eternal condemnation and the wrath of a God who was just waiting to smite us for any small misstep. Now that we’ve abandoned those false ideas of who God is, we need to develop new spiritual practices that lead us into deeper connections with this God we’ve really never met, or maybe we did but we’ve forgotten what this God is really like. Overcoming those bad spiritual habits can only be accomplished if we replace those with newer, better and more liberating habits of spirituality. Not easy, but oh-so worth it!
*Finding new tribes to experience community with – We need people. All of us. We cannot do this alone. So, as many of us have lost vital connections with family and friends through Deconstruction, we need to find new tribes who are on the same page – people who will not try to manipulate us through fear, people who will affirm the God we have learned to see and experience through the clear light of Jesus. That can be hard to do. Not only to find those people who are truly “safe” for us to be in relationship with, but also to learn how to really let go and trust people once more. Remember: We’ve been hurt pretty deeply in the past. How do we know we won’t be hurt again? Answer: We don’t. But if we don’t at least try to find some people to connect with, we won’t make it very far on our journey of Reconstruction.
Those are just some of the steps towards Reconstruction that many find much too difficult to walk through. Especially right after enduring the trauma related to Deconstruction.
But, I’m here to tell you it’s possible. I’m also here to help you walk through that painful process of moving through Deconstruction and into the beauty and freedom of authentic Reconstruction.
If you’re curious, you can join me and 10 other people as we start from Square 1 and walk through a 90 Day journey of healing that leads us to experience the joy of Reconstruction. [Starts Monday, Sept. 30, 2019]
Thanks to a few generous donors, we have a handful of half-price seats available [while they last]. Grab yours here.
For those who yearn for help navigating this process, I want to encourage you that – while it may not be easy – there is life on the other side.
Is it hard? Yes.
Is it painful. Extremely.
Is it worth the fight? Absolutely!
Just don’t give up. Don’t settle for less. Take your time. Work through it.
And when you get through to the other side and start to experience the beauty and freedom of Reconstruction, please be sure to take the time to help someone else get through it too.
We all need encouragement. We can’t do this alone.
Let’s work together to create a new community that looks more like what we always yearned for when we first started on our Deconstruction journey.
There’s hope and life on the other side of your pain.
Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today, He and his wife are returning to El Paso, TX after 25 years, as part of their next adventure.