Deconstructing The Good Church Girl I Used To Be


I had been born and raised in the church to be a Good Church Girl. I was taught by sincere and loving people to be sincere and loving. I believed what the Bible clearly said, and deferred to my pastors and leaders whenever I had questions. This, I was taught, was how I could be Jesus to a hurting world. So I attended church every time the doors were open. I volunteered wherever and whenever. I was righteous, good, right, and “in the world but not of the world.” I faithfully followed the rules—both spoken and unspoken.

Being a Good Church Girl also meant I maintained an unquestioning faith.

This is where I tripped up. For years, I tried to tow the line. My church was full of one-liners like, “Good people don’t leave good churches,” and “bloom where you’re planted.” Those axioms—though said with a smile—caused me anxiety. I was living in a genuine faith with an underlying genuine fear of doing/saying/being the wrong thing. I can see now that my faith and idea of what a ‘real’ Christian life should be was just so messed up. And I eventually came to the place where the questions would no longer be silenced. 

So I asked one question.
Then another.
And another. 

I picked at the plaster skim coat and half the wall fell down. That wall—then another and another—have been crumbling down for the past five years. I have utterly deconstructed my faith. When I look at all of the ideas, beliefs and certainties I have dismantled over the last five years, I am surprised at where I am now and what I have left, laying at my feet, in the middle of this mess.

I had never heard of the term ‘deconstruction’ in regards to faith when I started this journey. I just thought I was indulging in faithlessness and doubt. There were too many happenings in my world that did not align with the Jesus I heard about at church. There were too many judgments that grated against Christ’s character and words. And there were way too many expectations and rules about women in The Church that just did not align with my understanding of God’s love for his created masterpiece of humanity.

At first, I was afraid that I was backsliding but what I soon realized was that I was falling into grace, peace and a deeper connection with God. This was the God who continued to pursue his people through the wilderness and generations with the declaration that he would be theirs and they would be his. I began to see that the Jesus who captured my heart always made room for more and all. And I felt the assurance of the Holy Spirit speaking kindness and hope to my heart as I sorted through the rubble of what I once knew to be truth.

I have also sorted out that my deconstruction has not been done with the haphazard violence of a wrecking ball but with the gentle intention of mindful preservation of what is precious and irreplaceable. 

I am dismantling in order to rebuild.

I am not deconstructing for ruin but for renovation, for restoration and for reclaiming. My faith isn’t a total tear down job. I’m not calling in the wrecking ball or demolition crew. I am removing each historic stone and beam to gently clean it, repair it and reimagine it. I am restoring a cathedral, not destroying a relic. I am undoing what was so I can rebuild on the foundation that was once laid so carefully.

So here I am, carefully surveying all of the pieces I have dismantled and what I see isn’t rubble after all; what I see is salvageable and beautiful. Once I remove the bits that were never meant to be there in the first place, I can see how different bricks and stones that had been cemented in my faith in the wrong way or with the wrong fillers can be repurposed to create a more perfect and more beautiful representation of my Jesus. 

I still have way more questions than answers. And I can’t quite figure out if I am still dismantling or if I have started rebuilding. It’s probably both/and. I guess I just want to say: Don’t give up. There is goodness in this process. There really is peace and grace and hope to be found here in the rubble. And there is enough time to sort it all out.

Just don’t give up.