On and off. Peace and chaos. Light and dark, hope and fear, rest and weariness.
Our lives go in cycles.
Through seasons of real joy and deep sorrow, of soft calm and loud wild. Of really good and really bad, and as we go through these seasons our faith experiences turbulence.
The period of life that ensues during college at the ages of 18-24 is the most fluctuating time anyone might ever experience. There is definitely a potential for greater life change to happen after this period, but there is also a need to acknowledge the realities of great and continuous change every year of this experience. Don’t forget that everything changes, and it’s unavoidable.
Somewhere in the teenage years, we start building what life is and what sustainable and stable looks like and feels like. But since then, many of us have experienced what it feels like for the whole idea to be completely and totally destroyed.
However, destruction is only what it feels like happens to our beliefs, but what really happens is deconstruction. Relevant magazine describes deconstruction as “an academic term for the systematic pulling apart of the belief system you were raised in.”
And college is a great catalyst to begin this process.
Doubt and questioning are the symptoms of deconstruction. Something occurs—an accident, a bad phone call, broken home or sick relative. And the questions just flood in, “Who am I?” they ask. Slowly at first, then all at once, “What do I believe? God, why do you let bad things happen… did you let this bad thing happen?”
Those questions almost make me excited when I hear them from people, because they are a sign of growth. When we are not asking, we are not growing.
On the same hand, deconstruction feels completely unstable, and we can become trapped in the ruminating that, to some degree, nothing happens directly to our faith post-huge-life event. Or that, because it is faith, then naturally everything will remain the same. But that is simply not the reality.
Being disappointed in God, being frustrated over a situation or living in a state of grief over whatever happened is not immoral. Those feelings, these considerations are valuable and welcome.
The only issue with those emotions is staying in those places. Reconstruction is what happens when you have pulled everything apart only to pull it back together into a new product. But that must be the goal—a new construction. Like taking an old building and making a decision to renovate; deconstruction requires ownership.
Ownership is being responsible for what is going on in your own life, and openly choosing to own it. A season of deconstruction comes with all sorts of nervous thoughts; owning those thoughts looks like telling someone else about them. Community and support is a crucial part of reconstruction. In telling others, we acknowledge the realities of deconstruction and the potentials of rebuilding.
I urge every person to become comfortable with the idea of deconstruction in life after calamity, and further that same process in the lives of those that are close to us. To live outside of a culture that feels that everyday every person should be firing at all cylinders, in their very best shape one hundred percent of the time. As humans we simply must process, and choose to let ourselves deconstruct—and then choose to rebuild.