When Deconstruction is the New D-Word

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I didn’t know the divorce rate for friendships going in. I thought when you said “best friends,” you meant “forever.” Like a blood pact without the blood. My glittery puffy stickers from third grade said so, as did my half a locket buried in a box. Friendships were supposed to last through it all.

I can remember every line from the 1988 movie “Beaches” with Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey.

Every. Single. Word.

So, I believed early on that if Cece Bloom and Hillary Essex could survive the oil-and-water friendship of 30 years, my friendships would last forever. 

Then I left church.

I didn’t realize just how many friendships couldn’t follow me out of those four sacred walls. I couldn’t quite understand for a long time. Resentment and anger tried to pull the friendships with me.

But deconstruction doesn’t need best friends. It just needs your truth. It just needs you. Only you have lived your story. 

I didn’t know what this “D” word was. Growing up in a strict Catholic church, going on to an ultra-conservative college and then attending an evangelical megachurch after college, the only D word I knew was Divorce and that was as bad as Masturbation. So, neither you did or spoke of unless you wanted to go to hell with all of the other sinners, like Rob Bell. 

A few years ago I started to ask questions about things I thought were critical in the church. It was quickly dismissed with, “This is the way things are. This is the way things always have been.” When Patriarchy has a permanent place at the table, there’s no room for discussion. I didn’t know that at the time. I quickly told myself I needed to just accept this as what being part of a church meant. It meant: You didn’t always agree but you always just kept showing up. 

Until I couldn’t any more.

The church didn’t change. I did. We did. Our family did. It wasn’t that we wanted to be at soccer games on Sunday mornings. Or that we wanted to go on weekend vacations. Or even that we wanted to sleep in. (Not that any of those are not valid reasons.)  

I just started listening more. I listened to words that were being said every Sunday and how the shoulders of my child dropped. I paid attention to who wasn’t there. I noticed that people I loved and spent time with during the week would never walk into church with me on a Sunday. So, I started asking why and I started listening.

I started hearing the stories of being a “voice for the marginalized” from the pulpit, while I noticed we were the ones creating those margins for people who didn’t believe the same as we did

With all of the questioning and all of the uncertainty, it came down to one critical moment. We chose our child over church and we walked away. We chose to look our child in the eyes and say, You are loved and you are perfectly made. We said, Who you love is beautiful. The same God who birthed the beauty of the earth birthed you. We believe that God’s love is vast; we cannot contain it or explain it. Shame shouldn’t keep you from love.

What ensued was the long and lonely walk of deconstruction. 

I had this CeCe Bloom type of faith. I truly believed that if we just told our truth, friends would see us and grieve with us. But life isn’t meant to be lived under a boardwalk or within four walls. We are meant to live our truth and love others enough to let them live theirs. I can’t ask others to walk our path of faith. I can’t ask others to walk the same path of deconstruction we are on. This is our gift. 

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Sheli Massie

Sheli Massie

Sheli Massie is a story keeper, seeker of justice, healing and hope in a broken world. She believes in longer tables, unlocked doors and living a barefoot life. She is currently working with her community to create an inclusive place for all to gather and be fed under the direction of OWEE called @thegoldfinchcafe. A "pay what you can" cafe where dignity is restored and communities can be healed. She and her husband live outside of Chicago with their five children and one grandlove. You can find her over on Instagram @shelimassie_, Redbud Writers, HopeWriters, and her website.
Sheli Massie

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