Like many my age and younger, I went through a fairly severe period of deconstructing my faith, trying to make sense of what we read in the teachings of Jesus in light of my day-to-day experiences in places claiming to be expressions of his church.

Let me tell you my deconstruction was catalyzed by both intellectual and relational challenges, but neither slam-dunk arguments nor platitudes initiated a reconstruction.

Instead, it was faith working in love through a few of God’s people.

Instead of simply throwing their hands up in despair, they encouraged (not guilted) me not to give up (I wanted to), faithfully walking with me, even as I grumbled and protested.

Instead of deconstructing my deconstruction, they treated me like family.

Instead of arguing with my reasons for despair, they actively showed me a reason to hope by their example.

Instead of picking apart my faulty doctrine, they simply, patiently, gently witnessed to the character of God in Christ.

Instead of asking me to get it together, they invited and included me in the liturgical and social life of the church.

Room was given for doubt, for questions, for frustration, for grief, for healing, for exploration.

The main thing was that I always knew I was loved–and that love was from God–but it was made visible and tangible by his people.