Today I want to talk about a BIG topic that is near and dear to my heart, and is also perhaps one of the most vulnerable things I’ve shared: how my faith deconstruction journey has been necessary for my healing.
Before I dive into this more deeply, I want to say that what I’m sharing is my own personal journey only. I have *deep* respect for everyone’s choice of faith, religion, abstinence from religion, and their own personal path which may be *very* different, perhaps even opposite, to mine. I prize being able to relate to each other’s differences, and what I’m sharing here is no way saying where *you* are is wrong, even if it’s different from me.
With that, let’s dive in:
There was a man in my Church who had a very strong relationship with God who was nice enough, but I wasn’t attracted to him at all, either emotionally or physically.
This man heard from God that I was to be his wife.
I was 32 years old at the time, and desperately wanted to be married.
He was absolutely sure of us becoming husband and wife, and all I felt was DREAD. Was this really what God had for me? Would I eventually learn to be happy with him and love him? Did I just need to “die to myself” in order to do God’s will here?
His assurance that we were meant to be created panic within me. Was I hearing wrong? I couldn’t trust myself and my own desires, and didn’t believe they meant anything.
I turned to another female mentor, an elder in my church, for wisdom. I explained my distress to her, and that I had zero desire to marry this man, but that he was absolutely sure that he had a word from God.
It was only by her assuring me multiple times that *she* didn’t feel this was correct for me that I could relax and know that I wasn’t being disobedient to God’s plan for me by not wanting to marry him.
I can’t believe this was me about six years ago, but it perfectly illustrates how reliant I was on external authority to tell me how to live my life instead of knowing and living my own truth; I was entirely disconnected from myself.
As I started to heal from codependency, people-pleasing, complex PTSD, and developmental trauma, my faith began to shift in ways I could have never predicted, but I now realize were the very backbone of my healing itself.
“What if dying to self is actually about dying to toxic patterns of relationship, people pleasing, shame, self-hatred, ignoring painful ways in which we deny our foundational and intrinsic self worth?”-Liz Milani
Reasons I Needed To Deconstruct To Heal
While my spirituality and relationship to the Divine is still very important to me, in order for me to heal, I realized that these particular beliefs couldn’t come with me, because they weren’t allowing me to be the healthiest, most whole version of myself that I was created to be. In fact, I realized that they were a large part of what was keeping me in very unhealthy patterns and behaviors.
Here are some of the most prominent beliefs that in order for me to truly heal, I had to deconstruct (and that I’m still in the process of reconstructing, which is hard work, and takes time!):
The Body is Bad/Wrong
Old Belief: You can’t trust what your body is telling you, because your “flesh” is the very source of your sin. There is a very sharp divide between flesh and spirit: flesh (your body) is the source of depravity, and your spirit/soul is the only thing you can trust because that’s the place where God resides.
Reconstructed Belief: There is no divide between my “flesh” and my spirit, they are one. My body is good, and in fact, the place where I get to experience the Divine. God speaks through my body. When I know my body and the ways that she communicates to me, I know myself and my own unique path.
Your Desires Can’t Be Trusted (The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things)
Old Belief: My heart, my desires, and what I want will always lead me astray because it is deceitful. I can’t trust myself and my desires. In fact, what God wants for me is often and likely going to be the exact opposite of what I want for myself, and will require me to “die to myself”.
Reconstructed Belief: I can trust myself to go through the process of determining my internal motivations–if something is coming from a past wound, trigger, or trauma that I need to work through, or if a desire I have is my heart leading me in my unique path. My desires are a trustworthy way that Spirit leads me, and it’s all just information.
I am Responsible For Others
Old Belief: I need to make sure that I don’t cause others to stumble or sin. I am responsible for making sure that men don’t lust after me.
Reconstructed Belief: I am responsible for me. You are responsible for you. It’s not healthy or right for me to place on myself what I am not responsible for (you, your emotions, your reactions, and the ultimate outcome that is out of my control).
I Need to Be Selfless
Old Belief: If I am not constantly “laying down my life” and sacrificing for others, I’m being selfish. My worth is determined by how much I give and how much I sacrifice.
Reconstructed Belief: I am an individuated self who has healthy boundaries, and it’s good and right to honor my capacity and give from overflow, not obligation. My worth is inherent, and not dependent on how much I give. When I set a boundary to honor my true capacity, others are able to get their needs met from someone else who has more capacity to meet their needs.
Others Have The Answers (But Not Myself)
Old Belief: I need to seek out someone else who is closer to God/has the right spiritual gift, has the right “anointing” in order to get the next answers that I need for my life.
Reconstructed Belief: The answers that I seek are within myself. The Divine speaks to me uniquely, and I can trust that. I can seek out others’ wisdom, and sometimes that will be confirmation of what I already know, but I am the expert authority on my own life.
Bypassing Personal Responsibility
Old Belief: If it’s God’s will, it’ll happen. If I pray and fast enough then it’ll work out the way it’s supposed to. If I do “all the right things” then my life will go as I want it to.
Reconstructed Belief: I must take personal responsibility to change the things that I can. It’s my responsibility to look at my patterns of behavior, thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and take responsibility for making the changes that would allow me to move towards the outcome that I say that I want. Yes, there is a limit to what I can control, but I need to control the things that I can. Prayer can help my mind and heart to be open to new possibilities and higher realities than I may be seeing, but me taking action is the way prayer gets answered.
Old Belief: If someone harms me, I need to forgive them immediately, because that’s what God did for me. God will withhold forgiving me if I withhold forgiveness. If I haven’t been able to forgive, then I have bitterness and resentment in my heart and that will block my relationship with God and bad things will happen in my life.
Reconstructed Belief: Forgiveness is a process that takes time. To truly forgive, you need to be honest with yourself and the other person about the harm that was caused; to bypass this step and jump straight to a mental assent of “forgiveness” is to cause yourself further harm. Processing the hurt, pain, and grief is a necessary part of the journey of forgiveness that cannot be rushed. Forgiveness does not require reconciliation, and sometimes reconciliation is not in your best interest for your self protection.
If You’re Experiencing Challenges, It’s Your Fault (God Hasn’t Moved)
Old Belief: If you’re still experiencing challenges in your life, it means there’s something you’re doing wrong, because God hasn’t changed. Perhaps you’re not praying enough, you haven’t surrendered enough, you haven’t gotten the right “word” from God yet, you have unforgiveness in your heart, or you have something blocking you from hearing God.
Reconstructed Belief: Life is going to life. Life includes hardship and suffering for every human being on the planet; it’s not something that we get to escape and is just part of reality. Challenges don’t mean that God is punishing me in some way.
Anxiety, C-PTSD, and trauma aren’t things that you can “pray” away and if you’re experiencing challenges based on your past history, there are very tangible things that you can do that can resource you and help you heal. These challenges are NOT your fault.
The Only Thing Good In Me Is God In Me
Old Belief: I am sinful and there is nothing good in me except God in me. Anything that is “of me” is like filthy rags.
Reconstructed Belief: I am GOOD. Although I may forget the truth of who I am (my goodness) sometimes, that doesn’t change that truth, and I can choose to remember my goodness at any time.
“Growing in emotional and spiritual health means dying to toxic ways of relating to God, yourself, and other people. It means identifying who or what brings out the worst of you, and taking steps to change those patterns.”-Dr. Alison Cook
Shedding these beliefs has helped me to become the healthiest version of myself that I’ve ever been, more ME than I’ve ever been.
Instead of being completely disconnected from my body, my internal truth, my boundaries, and myself, outsourcing everything, and putting myself in a position of powerlessness, I am connected to myself, my truth, and my power in a way I never thought possible.
Although there’s been a lot of grief amidst my faith deconstruction, a healthier relationship with myself *and* the Divine have been byproducts on the other side.
Comment below if you’ve had to undergo a faith deconstruction/reconstruction of any kind in order to own your fullness today. I always love hearing from you!