My year of deconstruction.

every year
rater than setting
new years resolutions
i choose a WORD or PHRASE
as a form of intention-setting
a preparation of heart and mind
for what may be to come

mama bear asked yesterday:
“do you choose the word
or does God give you the word?”

and my response was
“i feel led towards the word”

if you take a look
at the past eight years
of my journey below
you will see how
this process
helps shape and frame
each year

so i encourage you
to reflect and pray
and consider
doing the same!

you’ll see
i’ve already decided
on my word for 2022

b u t

today i thought
i’d give a reflection on
my year of deconstructing

at first,
i wasn’t sure where
this word came from
usually my theme for the year
is more wholesome
e.g. growth, invitation, dwell
(evidence above!)

but, this word?
it felt rebellious
n e g a t i v e
yet as i reflected some more
i realised that sometimes
things need to be deconstructed
in order to be reconstructed

but, what was i meant
to be deconstructing?

my faith, my relationships,
my dreams, my work, my idols,
my mind, my body, my heart, my life?

what needed reconstruction? 

what new things did God want to do,
that first required me to lay down my building tools,
so he could come in with a bulldozer
and demolish my plans and blueprints?

what new things did God want to do in the rubble?

what did i need to bring before his consuming fire,
for new life to rise from the ashes?

what bones did God want to raise up from the dust,
to breathe his life and spirit into my buried memories and desires?

where did God need to restore the foundations and walls of my life,
to create rooms for me to grow and invite and dwell,
all those precious notions i had reflected on and been tested in in previous years?
what if God wanted to tear down all my assumptions and perceptions
and strongholds and the armour that i have worn to shield myself from further wounding?

what if God wanted me to pick up the sword of his Spirit, his word
and start to cut off and cut away all that is keeping me in the wrong fight:
fighting off fears instead of fighting for faith?

what if God wanted to release me from those fears,
and refit his armour of light to my heart, mind, body and soul
so that i could continue to stand?

after deciding on the word

i was met with complete
in relationships and seasons

the first
few months
of this year

i was left

trying to make sense
of the pieces

my heart
was wounded

my identify
was challenged

my faith
was disenchanted

only recently
did i find a tweet
that gave me hindsight
into why i ended up
on this journey
of deconstruction

dwan hill says:

“if you are currently
deconstructing your faith
or struggling to believe in Christ,
i have a question that may help:
who disappointed you?”

“disappointment is caused by
unmet expectation, and i wonder if
deconstruction is often more about

damaged relationships
than questionable theology”

“disappointment can lead
to discouragement,
next to disillusionment,
then to diengagement,
and finally to decampment,
a dangerous departure
from accountability”

this struck a cord for me
as i realised the disappointment
of broken community and damaged relationships
led to my own disenchantment

many believe deconstruction
to be a departure from faith

but for me
it was a cry
for answers

it was a desire
to really understand
and ultimately
to be understood

i wanted to know why
why things were so broken
why i was walking
wounded and not healed

but as i grieved the old
i was blessed with “new”

i was met with

i stumbled upon an online
sermon series from my city
on “deconstruction”

an answer to prayer
as i was wrestling
with broken trust
and felt called to join
a new church community

i wrestled with a desire
to engage deeply
in this new community
to find belonging

while also wrestling
with my fear of intimacy
of investing in community
and embracing vulnerability
only to be rejected

i wanted to draw near
but not too near
not near enough
to be wounded again

online church during lockdown
was the biggest blessing
as it enabled me to commit
to drawing near to God
without drawing near to His people

i distanced myself
not in obedience, but in fear

if i was the first to reject
surely that was better
than being rejected?

i only recently
had this revelation
of my spiritual self-sabotage
as i reflected on why
i was deliberately
distancing myself
from community
even when deep down
i knew i wanted intimacy

“belonging is a battle
of anonymity and intimacy”

my journey of deconstruction
wasn’t just a wrestling
with broken community

it was also a desire
to listen and to hear
to open myself
to the hard questions

i put my self
in the shoes
of a seeker

in the face of lockdown
and a multitude of solitude
i found myself oftentimes
walking until i was numb

podcasts were my way
of listening and wrestling
with faith and life

at the start of the year
i had not heard of, or listened to
any of “the deconstructionists” podcast

but now at the end of the year
i can proudly say i have listened
to every single episode (since 2016)

evidence: my spotify unwrapped

the podcast
wasn’t my usual
style or preference
but this was
a part of the journey

c u l t i v a t i n g
an openness
a willingness
to listen
b e f o r e

there was also
the question:

if i couldn’t explain
the constructs

or tear apart
the constructs

if they couldn’t

then were
these constructs
of man or God?

i cannot do justice to the intricacies
of my deconstruction journey

but here are some bits and pieces
i discovered along the way:

the formal definition of “deconstruct” is to:
• analyse (a text or linguistic or conceptual system) by deconstruction.
• reduce (something) to its constituent parts in order to reinterpret it.

the deconstructionists podcast says,
the purpose is not to strip away everything until there is nothing left 

the term was coined by derrida a postmodern, french philosopher
in relation to the “skepticism of truths”
he was looking specifically at the areas of religion, government and education

“deconstruction is not a philosophy but a project,
a way of working within a given system in order to find its weaknesses”

“deconstruction calls for close analysis by seeking not only
to understand a system, but to question that system”

“deconstruction is being more self aware.
you’ve got to be able to see your blind spots.
how have you been set up and wired to see.
if you can see that, then you can start to see
outside of that, and see the way others see things.”

jesus presented himself as the ultimate deconstructionist
of the institution of his day, of the religious leaders, etc.

“Let’s say our faith was like a sweater. Yarn: our ideology. Weave: our tradition.
This is how you wear it. Don’t change it, even if the sweater doesn’t keep you warm any more.
Even if it’s too tight or the threads cut off oxygen at your neck. This is the way.
Doubts and questions mean disrespect, and those are the seeds of evil, so just don’t.

But over the years, a thread comes loose and you try to just tuck it in alongside the others.
You can cover the fraying up. You can pull the thread and think,
‘Oh, I don’t need this one, because it is harmful to me; it’s itchy and gets caught on corners.’
It comes out easily. And the sweater stays together.
Then you pull another, and another, and soon you find all the yarn is gone.
You have deconstructed the entire thing. You are left naked.
People gawk and run away, and you feel two opposing things:
the freedom of glorious nakedness, and the fear of the same.”

(lisa gungor, writing in the most beautiful thing i’ve seen)

the benefit, i believe, to walking into this existing science of thought is that i am not emotionally or rationally attached to any one idea or framework that would constrain me in exploring. i do not classify my faith, being a Christian, as a constraint here, as it does not prevent me from hearing other voices. if anything, i want to expose myself to these voices, so that i might sharpen my discernment in the word of God, that his truth and light and voice may be made known, revealed amongst the ashes. he is a consuming fire. a jealous God. he is sovereign. so i do not believe that my pursuit of understanding his world better has to be bifurcate from him, the creator of the world.

the ultimate challenge:

“we should be able to read
voices we disagree with
and not get offended”

here is a poem i wrote
on deconstruction:

to close my ramblings for today:

there is lots to discover, to uncover
there is lots to learn, to unlearn

i am thankful to have started working
on seeing my own blind spots

i am aware of my need to press into community
rather than living in fear of wounding

and i am excited to continue this journey by
focusing on sharpening discernment in 2022

Respond from the Heart