Updated: Aug 21, 2018
Deconstruction is what I call the process I went through where I deconstructed literally all that I knew of God and laid it out on the table for re-evaluation. Some might call it a crisis of faith but for me losing my faith was never an option, but a new organization of all that had entered my mind space was undoubtedly necessary.
My deconstruction started on the issue of women. Women in the church, women in marriage, and God’s heart toward them. It started there because of the struggles I was dealing with in understanding my purpose on this earth and also within my marriage.
I gave my life to Christ in high school and my transformation was a slow one. I had much trauma and past emotional wounding to wade through. But I was doing it. Accepting Christ really changed my outlook on life and for the first time in my life I’d found a constant source of hope, even among the hardest of trials. My faith grew strong and unwavering. In the midst of that the Lord moved me to Wisconsin with a job transfer where I eventually met my husband and settled down.
In our dating days I remember how much we appreciated each other. How much we valued and admired each other’s strengths and talents. Once we married things began to change.
I’d always heard teachings in the various churches I’d visited about the “roles” of men and women, usually in conjunction with marriage. I guess I never paid much attention at the time because as a single woman it didn’t seem to apply much to my current situation. Now that I was married, however, these teachings seemed to scream louder and louder like an oncoming train. For me, it began to feel like I was stuck on the middle of the tracks and would be the inevitable casualty of this doctrinal train with no hope of escape. I wasn’t sure why it felt this way and strangely, my husband didn’t seem to be bothered by it at all.
Sermons of gender roles began to clog my mind space and cause confusion. My spirit seemed to say one thing while the words of pastors said something different. The common theme of discussions and sermons became what I could and couldn’t do simply because of my gender. According to these teachings, the very fact that I was female somehow took away certain avenues that I could travel, determined my giftings, ministries I was allowed to be involved in and what decisions I was allowed to make in my home and within my marriage. It was strange and I didn’t really understand it.
Tension rose in my marriage as the phrases “You’re not letting me lead” (spoken by my husband) and “Well why don’t you step up and lead then” (spoken by me) became a common theme. I felt the pressure building even as I tried to accept this new way of life where I no longer had the implied say-so in regards to my life and marriage. I began to see my loving, joyful, amazing and energetic husband shrink back in disappointment and claim I wasn’t letting him take his rightful place of leadership in our home and I started to feel resentment build within me. Resentment for God and his character that seemed to value me less for being a woman, resentment for my husband because of his supposed place in our marriage. Bitterness because I struggled with knowing I had specific skills that would greatly benefit our life but feeling as though I was trespassing God if I used them.
My husband hadn’t morphed into a controlling abusive man by any means, and I hadn’t turned into little Susie Homemaker. (We’d have starved if I had!) But the impact of these subtle teachings caused our expectations of each other to shift. Things I would’ve previously just done without a 2nd thought, now became a confusing doctrinal decision of should I or shouldn’t I? I became concerned with even being perceived as a wife stepping too far out and what that might do to my husband’s reputation. I didn’t want him catching flack for having a wife that was “too outspoken” even though I was outspoken by nature. Now it wasn’t just me as a shell of my former self, but also our marriage. The love, respect, and joy we had was disappearing and neither of us handled it well.
Taking its place was confusion and insecurity.
For me that’s what these teachings bred in my marriage, and it’s best described from my perspective as mental torture. Eventually I came to a point where I had no clue who I was anymore. I’d lost all trust in myself at my deepest core. I started to doubt everything I thought and everything I did. My trust shifted from this amazing Jesus that had spared me from astounding amounts of trauma and even death and instead allowed it to lie solely on my husband and male leaders around me. At one point the weight was so heavy that thoughts of suicide even crossed my mind.
One night after a bible study a few friends and I chatted and the topic of female pastors and leaders came up. I offhandedly dismissed the legitimacy of women in ministry, to which my (now) mentor asked one simple question to my response of women not being called to lead.
The simplicity of that blew me away. And honestly I wasn’t sure I knew why. It’s just what I’d been led to believe by every church I’d attended. I could recite the bible verses attached to it but really had no depth of knowledge on the issue. She briefly shared her thoughts on it, in the utmost kindness and consideration, and that night I found myself knee deep in research on a quest for truth. Something about what she said had ignited a hunger in me for truth. How could I adhere to something I didn’t really understand even on the smallest tangible level? A desire was born in me that night to take everything I was taught and expected to believe, and test it to God’s character. You know, like the Bible actually encourages us to do! (Acts 17:11)
My confidence grew and my love for God actually began to grow. I realized the issues I had in the beginning, that sick feeling and the sound of the train, it was my troubled spirit. The teachings I felt ill over were indeed coming against my very being, my very identity in Christ. Inspired by an adversary with a deep seeded hatred for women, they flew in the face of the mighty God that created me and because I had accepted Christ in my heart, my spirit felt the sting of Satan’s attempt on my life through these teachings. The attempt to steal the very essence of who I was and who my husband was, and essentially who we were together.
These days I’m in a very different place than I was back then. Little by little God began to remove the veils from my eyes as I made my journey through everything I knew about life, who I was, and who God is. A journey that would take a novel to describe! Only this time I felt empowered because Jesus was at the center of it all. He was my compass again and in that I felt loved, cared for, and strong.
Nowadays, I’m in a place where I am fully in love with my Creator, void of those feelings of resentment toward a God that would create in me passions and gifts and then not allow me to use them. Void of the anger of a supposed chauvinistic God that would have preference for men over women simply because of gender and allow his daughters to live in mental anguish, struggling to feel relevant. I find myself in a place of freedom to be who I was created to be. I’m able to use my giftings and skills in the way they are intended unashamedly. I finally understand what true and total freedom in Christ feels like and it’s beautiful!
With God’s help and guidance, I have trudged through all that I had previously accepted as truth and have rejected teachings that are not of Him and do not line up with his character. I have once again accepted my true identity in Christ. I now weigh everything I hear with the Lord and do not take any man’s words over the revelation and wisdom I get from my Creator. I’ve surrounded myself with very wise and loving council that I can go to that also share this freedom and always point me back toward Him.
I look at my marriage completely different. We’re a team, equal in all things. If we don’t know what to do we pray about it. I’d be a liar if I said it’s been an easy journey or that my husband and I are out of the woods as far as the wounds we’ve suffered at the hands of this false belief system. It’s been far from easy, but it has been so worth it and I see evidence every day that shows me God’s bringing us to a place of complete restoration.
Through it all though, one thing shines brighter than all the heartache and frustration, and it’s the gentle and unwavering faithfulness of the Lord. He never left my side, One by one He tore down every lie of the enemy and every wall that kept me from understanding his loving goodness. He left the 99 to bring me back to Him and I thank Him every day that he did. To know love is to know the Creator, and oh how deep his love is for us.