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The Pressure to Explain Yourself

Hi TLSers!

I get a lot of private messages from people across all social media platforms.

Consistently, they are struggling with deconstruction.

But not just deconstruction in general.

I’m finding the main struggle is how to deconstruct in front of family, friends, community, whomever.

Many feel they need to know what to say.

Here’s what I told the last young woman who asked me for advice:

Why explain yourself?

First of all, you might be experiencing a little hangover from your evangelistic days where you always had to give a reason for the hope that lies within you. You always had to be ready to testify and give your testimony. The pressure was constant to make your public statement of faith. Witness witness witness.

Secondly, your spiritual journey is yours and no one else’s. They shouldn’t be asking you about your sex life either! Or your financial situation. Or your politics. It’s really none of their business. Your spiritual life is private. It will have visible manifestations. But what you believe or don’t believe is your concern, not theirs.

Thirdly, do you go around asking people to explain themselves spiritually? Are you constantly assessing what people believe or don’t believe so that you can decide what to think about them or deal with them or relate to them? If you do, then there’s a little more work to do. But what I’ve seen is the deeper people go into deconstruction the less they care about the spiritual or religious affiliations people have and just mostly care about the quality of people they are. Like your spirituality is your business, their spirituality is theirs. You don’t ask because it feels invasive and rude. So you shouldn’t be asked either.

If you do need something to say, here are a few responses I’ve given to people who’ve tried to corner me:

Gentle ones:

“I don’t feel like about my spiritual life right now.”

“I’m going through some changes and don’t feel ready to talk about it yet.”

“I’d rather not discuss this at this time.”

Firmer ones:

“I feel like that’s really none of your business.”

“Excuse me but I have to go now.”

“I don’t talk about that with just anybody.”

“I don’t believe that anymore and I don’t feel like I need to explain.”

You can just be you… and that doesn’t need explanation.