The Hard Work of Reconstruction
“How do I reconstruct my faith?” a friend recently asked. It’s an important question that I hope more and more people are willing to ask. In an era that glorifies deconstruction, reconstruction is an all-too-rare practice that is vital to our health and well-being.
A couple of months ago an isolated storm brought torrential wind, rain, hail, and flooding to Englewood. Many homes were flooded, a woman lost her life, and the damage is still being repaired. After all the finger-pointing and blame-gaming, the root cause of the flooding has become clear: hail quickly stripped the leaves off of many trees and instantly blocked three major storm drains which rerouted all of the rainwater to the streets and homes of Englewood.
As we continue to rebuild here in Englewood and Hurricane Michael smashes the Gulf Coast, my mind has been on the quick work of deconstruction and the long obedience toward reconstruction.
I’m not very handy but I’m a master with a sledgehammer. If you’re ever remodeling and need some help, call me on the front end. I will be useless to you when you actually drywalling and painting, but I can knock down a wall in no time flat. That’s because deconstruction doesn’t take much time and, frankly, it doesn’t take much skill. In terms of spirituality, it’s comparatively pretty easy to swing the sledgehammer of doubt, questions, plurality, and critique, but then what do you do with that pile of rubble that used to be your faith?
Don’t get me wrong; I think deconstruction can be very helpful. I think it helps us reject things that are safe and superficial and I think it helps us lean into things that are real and sustainable. Simultaneously, however, I have two primary issues to deconstruction:
1. We often make ourselves the hero of the story because of the courage we mustered in order to tear it all down.
2. We rarely do the hard, long work of reconstruction.
The result of these two things is a self-centered depression of sorts. We are the hero of the story so we are proud and self-absorbed but we are also left with no more than rubble so we’re sad and aimless. When I think of following the way of Jesus I do not think of self-imposed self-centered sadness. Yes, there will always be sadness along the way but to choose it and continue to live in it while exalting ourselves isn’t aligned with Jesus’ invitation to follow him.
Back to my friend’s question: “How do I reconstruct my faith?” Although the answer is often simple it is never short. It requires, as Eugene Peterson calls it, a long obedience in the same direction. It requires a trellis, a lattice, a rule of life that directs your spiritual growth regardless of your emotional, relational, mental, vocational, and personal ability to do so.
This lattice, trellis, or rule is often made from rhythms: regular practices that stretch and guide us in a particular direction. Our church is working on developing rhythms that help us move toward God, ourselves and each other, and toward the places we live, work and play. Together we are remembering who we are and who we are becoming by moving in these directions.
Join us Sundays throughout October to start or continue to the long, slow work of reconstruction.