Deconstruction: Losing My Faith and Finding It Again

Posted by Wendy Child, Creative Coordinator, on Mar 17, 2022

Deconstruction: Losing My Faith and Finding It Again

If you’ve started attending Chase Oaks in the past 5 years, you and I probably don’t know each other. In that case, let's get coffee, swap embarrassing stories, and find out all the weird stuff we have in common. But if you’ve been attending Chase Oaks for more than 5 years, you might remember me as the Sloan Creek Campus worship leader from 2012-2017.

Those 5 years were so special, as the Chase Oaks family accepted my husband Michael and I with open arms. When we moved to Nashville in 2017, I wanted to pursue my music career. But there was something else: I also knew my faith was on the rocks and I needed time to sort out what was happening in me.

If you’ve experienced any sort of faith deconstruction, you know this: it’s awful. No one that I know chooses to lose their faith.

I explain it this way: my faith was a Jenga tower that I had built carefully for decades. Each block was a belief I held to be true. Then one day, a Jenga block got pulled out. It wavered but my tower could still stand with just one block missing. I thought all I had to do was study the Bible more, read more books, and listen to more podcasts to make things right again.

But little by little, those Jenga blocks kept dropping. No matter how hard I tried, they simply couldn’t hold up to my questions. Each remaining block got more and more precarious until one day, a final block was all that was left. My heart broke as I asked the question that most ex-religious people eventually ask: “What if…what if there is no God at all?”

The final block was pulled, and my tower fell.

My faith was gone, but not because I wanted it to be. I had desperately tried to shove those falling Jenga blocks back where they belonged. Please know this about me or anyone you know who has experienced a faith deconstruction: we did not choose this.

The next few years were a wandering, heartbroken dark night of the soul. I felt like I had believed my whole life that the sky was blue, then one day I opened my eyes and the sky was pink. No matter how hard I rubbed my eyes, that sky was as pink as could be, even though I tried with all my might to will myself into believing it was blue.

I’ll say it again: I did not want to lose my faith. Nevertheless, I journeyed from evangelical Christian, to doubting disciple, to frustrated ex-Christian, to exhausted agnostic...and finally, to open-hearted Christ follower (you’ll notice that in this case, my path closely mirrored the stages of grief).

So that’s where I find myself today: a Christian by choice, not by upbringing. A Christian by trial and error, not by obligation. A Christian by faith, not by certainty.

I have not found my way to this renewed faith without lots of help. God placed countless guideposts and a diverse group of good-hearted teachers on my path to help pave the way.

Most people who start to reconstruct their faith after they experience a deconstruction get asked the same question: “Well, what exactly do you believe now?” Friends, the truth is that I hold things with a much looser grip these days. Love is my guide. The spirituality of my past was very logic based and head-centric. My faith now is very heart-centric. I’m more comfortable now with mystery, with unknowing, with surrender. These days, anyone who pounds their Bible and promises that they have all the answers makes me a little queasy.

I spent a good chunk of my deconstruction arguing. I wanted to argue about theology, atonement theories, politics, the church, the afterlife, the Bible, and just about anything else I could think of. Looking back, that makes sense since bargaining and anger are a part of grief. To be honest, I still experience anger when I see injustice perpetrated in Jesus’ name: when I see LGBTQ people excluded from God’s family, when I see women told that the image of God shines a little less bright in them compared to their male counterparts, when I see the threat of an angry God used to manipulate people.

Debates are a part of deconstruction—and a part of all faith journeys, I think. But if the debate doesn’t land you in love, then all that arguing is wasted energy.

I’m still in process. And I’m pretty sure that if you have a pulse, you’re in process too. Most of us will go through stages of doubt and questions as part of the process. God is never done with us. What a gift that we can trust a God who holds us, carries us, guides us and loves us through it all.

So I’m still deconstructing my faith, and still reconstructing it too. Like an old house that needed an overhaul, I see constant remodeling in my future. The foundation is solid, but God and I will spend a lifetime painting and blowing out walls and getting rid of anything that doesn’t point towards love. My heart is curious, inquisitive and has a ferocious appetite for wonder; so God and I are in this remodel for the long haul.

For me personally, on the other side of a faith deconstruction and a total life overhaul, life is beautiful, complicated, exhausting, and full of magic. My husband Michael and I started our little family back in 2020 (yes, we joined the Covid baby train). My daughter Charlie is 17 months old and I’m starting to ask important questions, like “How do I teach her about the love and grace of God, but leave behind all the shame and fear that I learned in church growing up?” When I look at her, this smart, hilarious, beautiful daughter of mine, I can finally begin to grasp God’s heart for all of us.

And we’ve decided to add a little more crazy into the mix. We’re expecting a baby boy in August, so if you see me before then, I’ll be rocking a baby bump. Michael and I still make music together, and I’m still writing music for TV and film. I’ve also started a lullaby project called “Sleep My Darling” where I turn all my favorite pop songs (especially 90s songs) into lullabies. Our life is busy and full to the brim, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. So now you know a little bit about where I’ve been for the past 5 years.

I want to leave you with this: if you find yourself drowning in doubt and questions, if you just can’t force your heart to believe the same things it used to, if you identify with the experience of a faith deconstruction, you are not alone. I believe with all my heart that all of those doubts and questions are God-given, meant to take you on a journey that will be painful but in the end, will lead to your flourishing.

Wherever you are on your journey, God is not done with you yet.

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