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Yes! An Internet Friend I care for quite a lot has deconverted, and it has been this same journey in my heart and a guardrail on my own work. My target audience is the queer people who WANT to stay, who want to find affirming, progressive, egalitarian home churches, who need what we do at EF and in queer Christian spaces. But I have to respect the truth, the long journey, trauma healing, the well-informed perspectives of those who tried and it just wasn't going to work for them long-term. They need something I can't give. And when I let go and let them embark on their unique journeys into wildernesses that don't look like mine, it's beautiful to watch them bloom. If the desert flower says to the snowy alpine mountain flower, "This is how to thrive," we'll both be wilted and frustrated and exhausted. But letting different wildernesses be different is okay, and we don't have to pull them into ours. It can be so hard to know who is who, though. Who has been waiting for the freedom I can give and who feels my words and work as another box to reject. I want the people who crave it to know it's there and join the many others who find it healing, and for the people who have tried it all to know I trust them when they say my path isn't their path. And for myself to know that that's enough and no one there needs my "help" that hurts instead of heals.

tl;dr Right there with you and I'm so glad you said this. Leading the way to a better internet world.

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Aug 1, 2023Liked by Sarah Bessey

When we were pastoring my husband used to say, my role is to take your hand and place it in Spirit’s hand and leave it there. I think too often in deconstructing and in life, we want to save and/or overly identify without even knowing we’re attempting to do that. That said, I hope it’s ok to share this small portion of something I wrote a few weeks ago. It feels like a yes and amen to what you’ve written and I’d love to offer it as my comment on your post:

Love trusts Spirit to live and move and have Their being in you just as Spirit has Their being in me.

Love trusts Love to do what Love does, in Love’s timing and Love’s speed. And inside that trust, I have no need to make you conform to my ideals of what is “right” or “proper” or “traditional” or dare I say, even “godly.”

No, you are the very good of Love’s love, made in the image and likeness of Love and where you (or I) stray from the path of Love’s embrace, may we trust the perfect work of Love to call us home.

How and when and what that looks like is between you & Love. If Love says “fear not,” then I will endeavor to not fear without resorting to domination, manipulation or control to assuage my fears. -Felicia M

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This really stuck to my soul in a good way. I am currently deconstructing and it appears on the outside (well to my mother at least) that I have 'backslidden' as I no longer attend a Sunday morning service. But my journey has uncovered a far better God than what I knew at church!

I think it is difficult for the controlling type people (hands up, I am one of them) who feel when someone leaves the same path you are on that you have to bring them back. But your post gives insight into this --- it's okay --- God can meet people wherever they are.

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Aug 1, 2023Liked by Sarah Bessey

Sarah, you brought me to tears this morning, specifically when you said “I am so convinced of the Love that shaped and formed the universe that I believe we are held in that Love within our unbelief.” I am taking you up on your offer and doing my best to rest for a while in this beautiful statement of faith, even if I can’t put the full weight of my own belief behind it yet.

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Aug 1, 2023Liked by Sarah Bessey

You’re right, can’t help but connect my story to the stories of others that are publicly sharing bits of their journey…

In the midst of my unraveling, my spiritual director offered me a lifeline. She said, “God, is endlessly knowable.” It gave me hope that I could know, unknow, reknow, reimagine and redefine “God” over and over and the process of doing so was good. I’m really thankful she didn’t try to fix me and she was in no rush to see me fall back into line as a well defined “Christian.” Instead, she was someone who walked my journey, my road by my side. She let my individual story unfold: knelt down and slowed the pace if I was stumbling, ran with me if I was picking up speed, offered council that helped me choose a path when I was at a fork in the road. I’m forever grateful for someone who came alongside me on my faith journey with no fear and lots of loving kindness.

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Aug 1, 2023Liked by Sarah Bessey

Nicely said. I have a good friend who has deconverted. There are awkward moments now and then in the spaces where maybe in the past I might reference God or prayer, but giving her space to live her life and walk her path has meant I get to still have my lovely friend. If I pushed or dismissed or diminished her, then I'd not be a real friend to her. She is still the amazing, kind person she's always been. Plus, she's healing in a way that could never have happened of she had stayed as she was. It has been good to learn how to love and encourage someone without the usual Christianese cliches.

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founding
Aug 1, 2023Liked by Sarah Bessey

I never stopped believing. But, because everyone seems to need a label, I now no longer identify as a Christian, rather I say I am a Jesus-follower. I pay most attention to what Jesus said and did. I without equivocation do my best to love God, to love everyone and to not judge. Jesus was speaking to me when, in Matthew 25, he told me how to treat others particularly the marginalized and needy. And, I will follow Jesus without wavering, even if I put religion aside.

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Aug 1, 2023Liked by Sarah Bessey

I truly wish more people could look at questioning, growing and doubting, not as something to be feared, but something that makes you grow and deepens your trust in self. I couldn't have put all of these thoughts into better words.

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Aug 1, 2023Liked by Sarah Bessey

I love this so much and it is timely. Besides church trauma and deconstructing my-way-or-the-highway kind of faith, even for those who’ve had generally good experiences in Christian/Christian-adjacent spaces, there’s another layer of this too, I think. For some it may be just plain hard to believe it all. At some point they may ask why they’ve been wrestling so hard to sustain faith in a story with increasing negative consequences for so many. And I think that plays into deconversion for some.

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Aug 1, 2023Liked by Sarah Bessey

I like the “hiding in plain sight” line. Sometimes we continue the outward forms of our old lives because explaining what the new looks like would be too costly or difficult. Although the “we haven’t seen you at church” line is still pretty close to “you’ve thrown away your faith?!!”.

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As someone wrestling with her faith. Sometimes slipping into “I don’t think this is me anymore.” To waking up the next day ready to give it all another chance.

Thank you for this.

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How lovingly kind you are!

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Aug 1, 2023·edited Aug 1, 2023Liked by Sarah Bessey

Yes. Yes. Yes. I was born into the "bible church" evangelical complex, moved to the Vineyard charismatic (and still technically there), while spending a few years amongst the "theo-bros". We are on the verge of exploring Anglicanism. So there's many facets to my own personal journey. Going through a very traumatic period of my life, I have shed much of what I took for granted was "Christianity". I've deconstructed a lot and am still in that process. It's silent and quiet and I'm following where Jesus leads.

I had a pastor for a few years. He was a "theo-bro" and he and his wife were friends to me. I had heard he developed an ALS type condition and he was sad on the verge of death, feeling that God was not going to accept him. I was so grieved to hear this. He was so bound to his theology, he was full of fear. So, when someone leaves or deconstructs I'm no longer surprised or disappointed. When people leave, I just have to trust God in that situation and wish them the best. We can't control them anyway. We aren't called to that. We are called to love.

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"It wasn’t faithlessness that led to my deconstruction: it was my faithfulness. It was precisely because I wanted to follow Jesus that I had to walk away from certain beliefs or theologies or practices in order to walk forward into the shalom of God." Yes. Yes. Yes.

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Aug 1, 2023Liked by Sarah Bessey

I’ve never heard the term deconvert. I think you are describing me in a way I haven’t been able to understand. Thank you for the grace and love you offered at the end of your essay. Words I will save.

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Aug 2, 2023Liked by Sarah Bessey

Thank you that you are not afraid to trust me asI am not afraid for my adult children. Real faith has entered the scene!

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