Whenever there is a topic I can’t quite seem to get out of my head, I know it needs to be addressed in writing rather than in my own head.
Several months ago, my friend suggested I listen to a podcast about Christians who “deconstruct.” I did, but to get more context, I listened to two stories of individuals who shared their deconstruction stories.
If you’re not familiar with that term, this is the definition from Merriam-Webster:
1: a philosophical or critical method which asserts that meanings, metaphysical constructs, and hierarchical oppositions (as between key terms in a philosophical or literary work) are always rendered unstable by their dependence on ultimately arbitrary signifiers
also: an instance of the use of this method a deconstruction of the nature-culture opposition in Rousseau’s work
2: the analytic examination of something (such as a theory) often in order to reveal its inadequacy
It took me a week to get through the testimonies and then back to the original podcast. It was all so heavy, and I couldn’t listen to it all at once. I had to listen in small increments. But as I listened to the stories of these two individuals, a part of me found something familiar with what they were saying, and I couldn’t pinpoint it until later.
And this was this: deconstruction reminded me of grief… it reminded me of suffering.
How? Because grief and suffering deconstruct us. It tears all the superficial things away; it shatters us in a million pieces. It’s like being plunged into the sea, not able to breathe, getting all turned about, and not knowing what’s up and what’s down. It’s like a vase that is dropped on the tile floor, which shatters into a million pieces.
Definition of suffering
1: the state or experience of one that suffers
Suffering can be the loss of something… a relationship, a job, something physical you were once able to do. It’s pain, heartache, crushing anguish.
Luke 9:22-25 says, “And he said, ‘The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.’ Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world and yet lose or forfeit their very self?’”
Hebrews 5:8 says, “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”
It is in our nature to avoid pain and suffering. We try and outrun our grief and hurts. We pray for grace and mercy, but what if our suffering and loss, in the long run, is actually the grace and mercy we are praying for.
Isaiah 55:8-9 says,
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
I’m not saying I always like it. Lord knows I don’t. But, ultimately, we are here for the glory of God. To be conformed into the image of the Son. And how else does that happen in the absence of suffering? Because what you were before suffering and grief, you will not be the same after. Because suffering and grieving, after it’s done its work, reconstruct you.
I believe every believer in Jesus needs to go through a deconstruction stage because we, as humans, need a reminder that this place is not our home. We are not the king of our lives, and this life is not about us. And I believe suffering is the grace God used to keep us from total deconstruction.
“For He wounds, but He also binds up; He injures, but His hands also heal.” Job 5:18