Someone asked me recently why I hadn’t posted anything in months. I honestly hadn’t realized how long it had been since I sat down to write.  I mean really write. I guess it mostly came down to the fact that I have been exhausted. Not by my life.  My life is always busy.  But my kids are older now, and while our schedule is busy, they are independent.  They don’t need me in that minute-to-minute way they used to function. 

But emotionally I’ve been tired.  Tired of feeling like the battle has been uphill for so long, and tired of trying to change systems that make me feel small. 

Maybe it’s because I’ve had a rocky few days with disappointments or because I’ve been mulling over these words for over a year, but suddenly I’m wide awake. I was walking across a parking lot, and it hit me. And I’m righteously pissed. I feel like using the word righteous takes the edge off.

Recently I’ve heard many big names begin to tear apart people who used the word “Deconstruction” as a dirty word when it comes to faith. It’s not. At all. In fact, I’ve decided to use a smattering of swear words in this post to demonstrate what one is.

 Here’s the truth.  After years and years and years of prayer and counseling and witnessing spiritual abuse, I have to say a lot of times deconstruction is necessary. Because we serve Jesus first. The church is a living breathing thing that is run by humans with the divine intermixed. But still run by flawed humans.  Jesus founded the church, and when his leaders have hurt others, made the gap so wide between us, things must change. When people hurt the people, they have vowed to protect, things must change.  Otherwise, we are part of the problem.  We are accessories to the destruction of hearts.

Often people are critical of people who walk out the door. Leave the church.  But after what I’ve been through in the last few years, I’m not. When your sanctuary stops being a safe place, you stop going there. Period.  It’s not because your faith wasn’t strong enough.

As someone who works for the church* and has for years, I’ve seen the way people speaking up have been silenced. I’ve been in meetings when I’ve heard someone speak disparagingly about someone who has voiced concerns. I’ve had someone openly disparage me when I’ve voiced concerns.  I get emails and calls on a regular basis from former youth I’ve worked with who have been hurt and crushed by cruelty, unnecessary demands, and told they could be “healed” from who they are.  And I feel like I failed to protect them.

Another truth? When we start playing God, people get hurt every single time.  And that’s what I’ve witnessed firsthand.  People who were not God, speaking for God, using God to gain power, and hurting people in the name of God. 

So, much to the chagrin of my oldest children, I did consider walking out.  Leaving. Not because of God, but because of the abuse of him by people who were called to help people see him.

Gaslighting is real. Spiritual abuse is real.  And Narcissism masked as Holiness is absolutely real. It’s a real thing that I’ve witnessed and lived through.  It’s a thing that almost broke me.  But I’m still here. Sorry people who shouldn’t have a twitter. I’m not leaving.  But I also live with shame.  I’m ashamed that I allowed my own children to be subject to it, to see me be so weak.

I’m their Mom. I was supposed to be strong.   

And after it happened slowly, piece by piece, tearing me down, I was just so tired.  I couldn’t speak up.  And when I did, no one seemed to hear me.  Was it because I worked there?

But then I was told why they couldn’t really hear me…

“There’s systems.” 

“There’s protocol.”

“Because they have a good heart and mean well.” …Most of the time.

Well, I call that for what it is.

 A big, huge pile of bullshit.

Shouldn’t there be accountability?  Where is the accountability?

Do we just wait for the accountability to come much later?  We all will eventually die.  And that’s when the truth can’t be hidden, and all your stuff is laid right out there. None of us is exempt.  Even those who think they are the holiest ones in the room. The ones that have irrevocably wounded people in the name of faith. They too must stand before God someday.

Me. You.

I don’t want to be the one doing the judging, not here. Because I know who I ultimately must stand before. And I know what his two greatest commandments were.

When I was brand new, just had finished missionary work, on fire for the Lord, I believed everyone who worked with and for the church had great intentions in mind.  I believed that all people who loved God were good. 

And then I got asked to help chaperone a youth group on a trip to a conference.  The youth leader was a man, and his spouse was present.  I had been around this person before.  I was on fire for God, so of course I said yes. 

During that trip, on more than one occasion, I was grabbed tight around the waist, my butt was touched, I was hugged too tight for too long, and this person pretended they were going to kiss me. 

19 year old Me.

I was 19. 

This person’s wife just laughed it off, “He’s just a tease.” Over three days, it happened.

 I was so confused. I would hear this person say something inappropriate to me, and then on the other side of his mouth spout church doctrine. He would judge people who didn’t follow things like he did, like holiness was some sort of pissing contest.  He told me how he prayed for me.

I hadn’t been taught this in training to do ministry. 

It wasn’t the first time someone had brushed up against me…the youth adult leader when I was in High School that always hugged me and wouldn’t let go, the married man when I was doing missionary work who touched my face for a little too long and got a little too close when our team was with him. But each time I just rationalized it.  They were just friendly.  They would never hurt me. They didn’t mean it.  They loved God.

But when this happened something in me shifted.  This person was married.   This man had kids.  And it didn’t feel like teasing.

I knew something wasn’t right. 

I remember coming home and calling Chris, who was my boyfriend, and not telling him exactly what happened only some of it, because I was so worried it would get turned around on me. Like I’d invited it. I felt such shame. Shame that I didn’t say “Get the hell away from me, Asshole!” 

Chris said, “I don’t know what happened, but I can tell you this…I have never ever liked that guy.”

So, I did what I knew how to do. Try to forget. I didn’t chaperone another thing for this person. I also didn’t say anything. I went away to college and when I traveled for ministry and to train others thankfully, he wasn’t there.  I was so thankful I didn’t have to see him. Occasionally, people would bring him up, and my skin would crawl, but I didn’t say anything.  

One of the last times I saw him was when I was hired to come teach a group that were putting together this large ministry team.  Jonah was four months old.  And I remember the weeks gearing up for it I began to stress about this person. This person seeing my son. I told Chris that if anyone asked to hold Jonah they couldn’t. Jonah’s own godparents. Even a dear friend who I knew loved kids and would love to have held him. While we were there, sure enough he asked to hold my child. I said no. And I said no to the other people. I’m sure they thought I was such a jerk. But it was because the thought of him touching my beautiful boy made my stomach turn.

At the time my logic was that I couldn’t risk having anyone touch him in case they handed Jonah off to him not knowing. Chris and I could control the situation and the narrative if we were consistent. I was 21. I was so young.  But I would protect my family.

I haven’t seen him since.

And then two years ago, I saw his name come up during a meeting over a smart board streaming from a laptop, with some email thread.  I saw he was in contact with a person that had made me question my faith and caused such anxiety in me.  Someone who spoke division masked as love in the name of faith.

Of course, they were friends.

And guess what? When I saw his name, I still never said anything.

Not now, and not back then.

This was before the huge church scandal shook everyone. What could I have said?  The main person that witnessed this behavior was married to the person who did it.  There was never any way they would speak up for me. Also, I was 19 when it happened. I had just gotten out of a completely sheltered environment of ministry. And I was scared.  

All I could control was what I did now. 20 years later. I could protect my family, and I could get out.

And I did.

I got out of a toxic situation.  And until I saw that name I hadn’t thought about those memories in years. I totally blocked it out.

But mark my words if that man ever gets within 10 feet of my daughter, I will lose my shit. Period. 

And I finally yesterday after the first draft of writing this told my husband all of this. The whole story. 

And he believed me.  And a lot of things suddenly made sense to him.

I’ve spent a lot of time on my knees the last few years going over a myriad of things in my mind. Overthinking. Rationalizing. Praying for calm. Asking Jesus to give me some sort of answer. 

There were some big things I was asking of him about some big subjects, that always seem to be way too much of a hot topic in the church, and He always answered clearly.  Love first. See People.  Really see them. Love first. Love Better. Repeat.

But this was one that rocked me.  Because no matter how much I prayed about this situation and the toxic one I was in I didn’t feel peace. And then today as I was praying, I remembered that Chris and I have always lived by the “Holy Spirit” method of peace. When it’s God’s will, we both get a huge sense of calm that washes over us.  It’s happened when we’ve bought houses, had kids, had a big choice to makes.  We’ve also walked away from buying a house, not taken a job, exited a situation when it didn’t bring us Peace. We are raising our kids to trust that Holy Spirit is speaking feeling.  Because it’s real. It’s a gift from God that we need to use. It’s often a gift we ignore.  

And it came to me, I don’t have to feel peace about this, because it was wrong. I never asked for it.  I didn’t do anything to deserve it, or the shame that came after.  It is the reason we need to speak up, question protocols, make waves. It’s the reason policies are changed.

I don’t feel peace because We are not called to be God.  Or abuse our place in the name of God. 

I don’t feel peace because I was 19. And it was wrong.

And it will always be wrong.  I remember it all now. 

What happens after Deconstruction?  After we remember and we acknowledge it for what it was, and what it’s for…we can go straight to the one we should be looking to.  Not some list of rules or protocols, or boxes to check.  But to the one who rules the universe. The one who can help us Reconstruct our heart. The one who gave us resources like counselors, and good leaders, and mountain movers who advocate for others. We can find healing.

I read this quote by St. Catherine of Siena that absolutely floored me:

“Preach the Truth as if you had a million voices. It is silence that kills the world.”

Deconstruction isn’t a bad word.  But being Silent is. I am only one voice, but there are millions of people who have been hurt by people who used their faith as a weapon.  And I will speak for them.

As I wrote this, I was incredibly shaky at first. But slowly a calm washed over me.

I’m still here.

Older me with low five Jesus who always has my back.

And so is Jesus. He’s good. And like he said, “The truth will set you Free.”

And He’s who I serve.

So, Yo! Deconstruct. Reconstruct. Do the work, work through your shit.

 Love First. Seek Him. Serve Him. Period.

There’s freedom and there’s peace. For you. For me.


*Pope Francis is awesome. I’m not talking about him. In fact, he’s my kind of people.

And where I work, I have never heard anyone speak ill of someone complaining. I am safe here.

Also, probably my favorite Instagram account is called reconstructingcatholic.  It’s a safe place to ask questions, and break things down, led by educated, holy, respectful, real people. You may not agree with everything they say, and what people share, but it’s important to remember we all have a different story but we’re all trying to serve the same God. 

ANNNND for old ministry friends I will not talk about the situation mentioned above. I will not tell you who it was, or any more circumstances around it. My husband, one friend, and my therapist know. I wrote it. It happened. It was wrong. It’s the truth. I’m working on forgiveness. And I am moving on.

ps. Sorry for swearing. I’m working on that.