Kat Wordsworth shares how 'deconstructing' her faith allowed it to grow and we shouldn't be afraid of doubt.
Perhaps for you, the word deconstruction evokes the image of a dessert plate, biscuit crumbs artfully sprinkled in one corner, cheesy foam in another. Someone in the background is trying to convince you that this is a cheesecake, but you aren’t sure. The same suspicion – of not being sure what you are going to get, or why people have bothered messing around with something that was fine as it was – might carry across to the word when it is used in the context of faith.
"Faith deconstruction" wasn’t something I’d heard of until I joined Instagram. As I run an account that talks about doubt, the all-knowing algorithm sensed potential common ground and got to work suggesting endless deconstruction pages to me. But to start with, I didn’t understand what the term meant.
It is often scorned as the latest social media trend, tempting people away from faith just because it is a cool thing to do.
If you don’t have a clue either, then my very broad, non-exclusive definition is that deconstruction is the attempt to re-examine your faith. This might be done for a variety of reasons, ranging from one extreme to the other. Rarely is it something that someone chooses. It is prompted by different things for different people, and of course, the starting point is not the same for everyone. Some find themselves moving closer to God, some find themselves moving further away. These factors, coupled with the number of caveats that I’ve thrown into my definition should give you a heads up that it’s a difficult thing to pin down. There isn’t one way to do it and there isn’t one place to land.
With one word covering such a broad range of meanings and outcomes, it’s no wonder that communication around deconstruction can get messy and confused. The nuance that surrounds it is often lost. Instead, the word often carries a fear that precludes any further enquiry. Deconstruction gets a lot of bad press, synonymous to some with walking away. It is often scorned as the latest social media trend, tempting people away from faith just because it is a cool thing to do.
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I cannot hope to speak into all of these different paths and I have no right to comment on anyone else’s story. But what I can do is tell my own. Even though I observed these deconstruction accounts with hesitancy, as if I was witnessing something new, I began to realise that I had been going through a process of deconstruction myself. The algorithm was right. Experiencing doubt had forced me to take a closer look at my faith, questioning what I believed and why. I had picked apart my beliefs, challenging where they had come from. Without giving it that label, I had deconstructed my faith.
Experiencing doubt had forced me to take a closer look at my faith, questioning what I believed and why.
It strikes me that far from being an enemy to faith, something to fear, deconstruction is a process that many Christians go through at some point, whether they have heard the word deconstruction or not. Refining. Clarifying. Seeking. Is that not essential to faith? We all weave knots into our faith that require unpicking.
Deconstruction saved my faith. So whether you think it is the latest fad, or simply a new name for a process that already existed, what is clear is that we need to have more nuanced, considered conversations about it, and pause before we make assumptions about anyone else’s faith.
You can buy Kat Wordsworth's book: Let’s Talk About Doubt, A Story of Doubt, Faith and Life In Between here.