This poem was the first explicitly deconstruction-related piece of writing I ever posted publicly back in 2017. I had never shared writing that even remotely questioned or critiqued my evangelical fundamentalist Christian upbringing before, and I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I’d already left “the Church” and had been deconstructing my faith for two years at that point. Sharing a poem that I knew would ruffle some evangelical feathers was both terrifying and liberating, though I couldn’t fully hold back my fears of hateful pushback from my still-evangelical friends and family members. (We all know that the lovely word “heretic” gets thrown around quite easily, unfortunately).
Thankfully my modest following was only a handful of people back in 2017, and due to my lack of understanding of social media algorithms, I think maybe ten people ended up clicking the link to the poem originally, and I received no angry responses from the Christians I feared (to my face, at least).
It was a small act that for me did not lead to any juicy drama then, but I remember how it felt like one of the biggest acts of rebellion in my life. Publicly critique, challenge, and question the religious institution upon which my entire life had been built? Was I insane?
My book about my deconstruction experience, The Courage to Go, was only a distant thought at the time I originally published this poem, but that year, sharing a small fraction of my experience through this poem was the beginning of telling the truth for me—a practice I am still getting used to modeling in my public writing life.
Now, going on four years since writing this poem and six years since I began critiquing and challenging the religion in which I was raised, sharing this poem is not quite as scary as it was in 2017, but I know that has only come through finding community to support me amidst the fears, doubts, and endless change that comes with spiritual unraveling and evolving.
If you find yourself somewhere in the depths of deconstruction today, I hope Being Human can provide one form of that imperative, supportive, safe community for you as you move along in the process of becoming. Know that you are not alone.
You are welcome here. You are free to unravel, to question, to grow, to change, with no expectation of where you “should” end up.
Come, tell the truth, and be human with us.
Grace and Peace,
The Poem: From the Depths of Deconstruction
There are moments of frustration
when nothing makes much sense,
as your foundation breaks below you,
and the fog it gets more dense
around your mind that seeks to kill you
in one moment, but the next,
it seems as if it is your friend,
a Savior, nonetheless.
But how could this be so,
when both exist in the same moment,
when each attacks the other,
and seems to find enjoyment
in leaving you in chaos
and existential angst,
where thinking of a loving God
brings you none but pain.
For how was it so clear,
in the days you lived before
your brain fell and shattered
into pieces on the floor?
They used to work so well,
those glasses that you wore.
They helped you see the world
through a lens that showed the Lord
and His hand in what brings joy,
and His will in what brings pain,
but now you put them on and see,
that only doubt remains.
You believed that God could see you,
and when you prayed to Him you thought
that surely he was listening
and would give you what you sought.
But you could not understand
how your prayer could be heard
over cries of starving children
and diseases still uncured.
For how could a Father choose
to answer you, and not them?
Does He really save the sinner?
Can He truly raise the dead?
Now you’re not so sure,
for you see the contradictions,
the holes in your faith
that for so long were deeply hidden
behind church pews filled with lies,
and under pulpits spewing hate,
in the classrooms where you learned
how to lock your mind up safe.
But what could you do now
that you no longer knew the Way?
When no path was set before you,
but you knew you could not stay
in this desert where you stumbled,
over questions, over shame.
You cried out and begged for answers,
but no answers ever came.
Once you see you can’t un-see,
and there is no going back
to the faith you once believed
before your sight was painted black.
And you’re tortured by those around
who seem so confident
that they have the ultimate truth,
and that you’re the one that should repent.
But how can someone claim
that God fits in a box,
so small that nothing more will fit
but Christian orthodox?
You aren’t so sure about salvation
that is earned in a simple prayer,
for how do a few words
somehow make your soul spared
from fire and eternal torment,
trapped within the gates of hell,
where redemption, grace, and love
are homes in which you will never dwell?
For how could there be
only one interpretation?
One Way, one Truth, on Life
that must be brought to the nations
Whose cultures are invaded,
and whose tribes are damned to hell
unless they say the sinner’s prayer
and put on the Christian shell?
And does not Jesus lose his meaning
when we manipulate his words
to line up with our agendas
and make evil acts affirmed?
For they say God is a potter,
and we are the clay,
but this unfortunately is not
what reality conveys.
Is not God the one who’s shaped
to fit into our molds,
and used to justify our actions,
and to support the stories told
by those too scared to admit
the doubt and fear that lie behind
the fact that nothing can be known
for certain in this life?
For we hold on to simple answers
that enable us to breathe,
and we hear a culture’s song
that lulls us right to sleep,
where we never have to question,
and we don’t admit our doubt,
and we never say what we think,
for the church might cast us out.
But should not the church be
The place for honesty,
where you challenge, ask, and grow
together by vulnerability,
instead of ostracizing those
who think differently than you,
and banning anyone or anything
that questions your view?
Because what about creation?
Was it really seven days?
Or is Genesis a poem,
where time is in a haze?
Could not God be in the bang
from the singularity
that is claimed to have birthed
How is the Bible the only Word
that God can speak through?
Is the text between its covers
the only source of Truth?
Or is the Bible one of many ways
to experience the Divine?
Might it be yet another finger
pointing to the moon in the night?
And what happens when we die?
Is Heaven a real place?
Or is Heaven here and now,
a present choice to embrace,
in every second of every day,
choosing life over death;
can we bring it to Earth,
and find meaning in each breath?
For how does one find light
in a world that seems so dark?
Is the world void of meaning,
or can we find a loving spark?
Though I may not ever know,
the Journey never ends.
Despite the lack of answers found,
in the meantime I’ll defend—
that there is meaning in suffering,
you must know darkness to see light,
you find freedom in ambiguity,
and to resurrect, you must first die.