“What exactly IS this whole faith deconstruction thing?”
“How can I start deconstructing my faith, and what does it look like?”
“What are the steps I need to follow as I’m questioning my faith?”
These types of questions may be stirring in your heart or dancing on your lips, and I am so sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there really is no clear answer I can point you to. Believe me, I wish I had the answer. I wish I could lay out the ‘five stages’ of deconstruction, or give you the ‘crucial 7 steps’ that you will need to go through in your own journey. (Heck, I’m the product of the 5-point sermon era… I love it when things are packaged neatly, with clear steps to work through). But I’ve come to discover that it simply doesn’t work that way. Faith and spirituality will never be able to be contained within a series of checklists or steps or stages.
Each person’s process of faith deconstruction will look completely different from the next. We all have our own layers that we need to dig through, strip down, and sift. Our views of the world, our values, our faith traditions, and learned theologies are all different, based on a multitude of factors, and so, we will all have a very different wandering paths.
Ultimately I can only speak to my own experiences, however, I have also had the privilege of talking with several people close to me about their own processes of faith deconstruction. When someone invites me into their story of deconstruction, spinning and weaving their own experiences together, I see a beautiful unfurling picture. And I’ve found that while there is no singular path or set series of steps, there are 2 common themes that are often tracing a distinct line whenever I have the opportunity to hear someone’s faith shifting story unfold.
So in the process of faith deconstruction, I believe there are two lines that will be present, no matter what our experiences or background:
- There will be some tearing down, and
- it will be a continual process.
The Tearing Down
My husband and I are in the midst of renovating a home from the 1920s. Good Lord, I still wonder what we were thinking when we decided to purchase this home and embark on this seemingly-neverending project. Anyone who has ever remodeled a home this old can relate and understand what I’m going through here.
While every home remodel is different, one thing is certain when you start that process: you will be tearing some shit down. It’s a given. No matter what the end goal, no matter what you hope to accomplish or create, the tearing down process is inevitable. The same goes whenever you decide to seriously consider the foundations of your faith or religion, with an openness to change. No matter what you believe, if you are ready to question those beliefs and open yourself up to new things, you will have to begin by tearing down.
One thing is certain when you start that process: you will be tearing some shit down.
So grab that sledgehammer and get ready for some constructs and beliefs to come tumbling down. Don’t freak out; you will be able to rebuild or restructure those things if you want. If you decide to pick the pieces back up and put them back together, the when/why/how of reconstructing will all be up to you. But for now, before you can begin to rebuild, you will need to face the fact that you the destruction is an inevitable and necessary part of the process.
A Continual Process
Although I began this stage of my journey 5 years ago, I am still in the process of deconstructing and reconstructing my faith. When I first embarked on this process and began delving into my doubts, I thought it was going to be a one-time process. I truly believed that I would simply need to doubt and question, then rebuild my beliefs again. That idea is completely laughable now, as I look back on my journey and my entire life thus far. I have gone through hundreds, if not thousands, of shifts in my faith from childhood until now.
After all, aren’t we always evolving, changing, growing, and learning? Why, then, would we expect the faith deconstruction process to be something we can check off our list, after we have ‘completed’ it? This is such a Western approach to spirituality, and one that I’m sad to say I am prone to adhere to. I love to accomplish tasks and check things off my proverbial to-do list. And yet, the moment I think I have arrived at a solid foundation after some reconstruction work, I encounter some new idea or perspective that will completely shift my way of thinking yet again, starting me on a new process of tearing down, sifting, learning, and rebuilding.
This work will never end. It is continual. And I’m (finally) learning to accept that fact, and embrace this perpetual process.
If you enjoyed this article, we would be honored if you would take a moment share it with anyone who might also want to read it. Thank you so much!