Setting boundaries can be the hardest thing, especially when the people you need to set boundaries with are those that have spent years speaking into your life and influencing you in many ways.
Deconstruction isn’t easy. I don’t know anyone that would say it is. But if you set boundaries from the get go, it will make it just a tad easier.
If you grew up in the church or spent any amount of time being “discipled” by people in leadership then you understand just how much influence they have, or think they have when it comes to your life and the decisions you make in it.
So, the moment you show signs of deconstruction they will notice. Count on it. This might look like attending church less, not volunteering as much, not volunteering at all, sharing a progressive meme on Facebook, liking a progressive post, pushing for social justice issues, or something of the sort.
Mark my word, they will notice. The first thing that usually happens is you get a text or call from a church member, and they say the famous words, “I’d love to get a coffee with you and hear how you’re doing.”
More times than not, they have ulterior motives. Yes, they want to know how you’re doing, but they also plan on trying to influence you to steer clear of deconstruction and “lean into the Bible.” It all steams from their own fear and indoctrination.
So, set boundaries.
Yes, I know this is a MILLION times easier said than done. I get it. Trust me. It took me months to set boundaries and enforce them and Guess What….I’m still learning how to do it.
Keep in mind that the world looks very black and white to evangelicals so you being in the grey area is going to make them feel very uncomfortable. This is going to result in them asking question after question and trying to argue their side of the belief. Their motive is to try and get you to stop questioning and return to the fold.
If you’re just starting to deconstruct then most likely you have more questions than answers. Meaning you’re not going to have any answers for them and leave these conversations feeling drained, hurt, and most likely full of shame.
“How dare you question God. Why isn’t your faith stronger? Aren’t you afraid of hell? What will your parents think? What if I lose my whole community? What if they’re right and I’m just being lead astray?”
So again, SET BOUNDARIES.
These boundaries will look different for everyone based of your needs, where you’re at in your deconstruction journey, and who the person is you need to set boundaries with.
For me there was just a select few I needed to set hard boundaries with. I spent years living my life and making choices based off my religious beliefs and what the “leaders” in my life would think of me. This journey of deconstruction was personal, and I wanted to keep it that way. I wanted to walk this road on my own, and making decisions that felt right for me instead of based off what others felt was right.
I knew that these specific people had very strong opinions and I felt that these conversations would be more “let me point out where you’re wrong” rather than listening with an open heart. I also knew that I wasn’t at a point where I could adequately explain why and what I was walking through, so I set a boundary.
I made it very clear that I wasn’t ready to talk about my beliefs and all the changes I was walking through. I communicated with them that when we were together I didn’t want any conversations to be about politics or my changing beliefs.
Sometimes you’ll have people respect your boundaries while others will blatantly ignore them or push right up against them to try to find a way in.
If you have people in the later group here’s what you can do. First clearly communicate your boundaries again, but this time tell them that if they can’t respect them that you will *insert what feels right to you here*.
This may look like you going no contact for a while, blocking them on social media, minimizing your time around them, not welcoming them into your home anymore, etc. It really just depends on the person, your relationship with them, what your boundaries are, and how they aren’t respecting them. Trust yourself to make the judgment call.
Once again, I know trusting ourselves during deconstruction and coming out of religious trauma can be hard. Just like anything else, practice makes progress. Try trusting yourself to set these boundaries, uphold them, and implement a consequence when they aren’t respected.
You can do this.