The landscaping wall around a flower garden in our backyard was resembling the tower of Pisa. It had to be fixed. The project entailed tearing apart all of the bricks, leveling them and putting them back in place. My wife was the mastermind in our previous similar projects. When it comes to fix-it projects, I am as inept as a monkey (which should offend every monkey in the world). Karla was away and I decided to take this project on anyway. This was a mistake.
The demo was easy. Tear out all the bricks. It was done in 30 minutes. Please Note: Demo is always the easy part. It’s easy to take a sledge hammer to a wall and knock it down. Similarly, it is easy to storm into a boss’ office and yell, “I quit.” It’s easier to break up, then to work on the relationship. It’s easy to walk away from a church, and even the Lord, in a self-satisfying and somewhat saddened, “They are all hypocrites anyway” huff. Demo is easy, but then what?
I started laying the bricks. They weren’t going in even. Then somewhere I got off the correct cadence of the top brick half way over the bottom brick. Even worse (how in the world could this even happen?) I unknowingly went from a four-tier brick structure to a five-tier brick structure. I realized my faux pas when I discovered I was running low on bricks. In short, my project failed miserably.
Ironically, as I began the project I was listening to a podcast with a person who said he was “deconstructing” his faith. He had been a megachurch pastor and authored a best-selling book. It all started falling apart, and in the process, he lost his church, his wife and his faith. He was now an “evangelist” for others like him, who have turned their back on their faith. We used to call what happened to this pastor as “backsliding.” Generally, the person hid in a corner, not broadcasting their slide. The term, “Backsliding,” has fallen out of favor it seems, but from my listening ears, he “backslid” (Note: Not all those who are “deconstructing their faith” are “backsliding.” Some are walking away from the church not Jesus. This guy had done both and was encouraging others to do likewise. Also of note, he said he no longer believes in hell. I think this helps him sleep better… for now).
I don’t know all what happened to this former pastor. Maybe nothing was his fault (Probably he bore some responsibility, but for the sake of argument…). Fact: Things happen in churches that are contrary to the mind of Christ. We can all site examples. All churches (even good ones) have the potential to harm, because every church is made up of people. People sin, make mistakes, do dumb things, can be unthoughtful and otherwise act like humans. I, and every other pastor, have committed our share of the above list. No pastor is perfect. We are human too. In those moments, those wronged can easily throw up their hands and say something along the lines, “If that’s Christianity, I want nothing to do with it.” (FYI… that’s not “Christianity” that’s “humanity.” There’s a difference. Also of note, sin is sin and sometimes what has happened in churches is blatant, destructive sinfulness not mistakes or stupidity). Who knows what happened to this former pastor? Bottom line: Whatever the source, he was hurt in the church and walked away from faith labeling it: “Deconstruction.”
But like my landscaping project, what then? What is the outcome of the deconstruction? We had options in our backyard: Leave the deconstructed landscape wall mess, make excuses for its existence or be defensive about its reality or we could get to reconstruction.
Hurt people have a choice too. Stay deconstructed or start reconstructing. Jesus will help in our soul reconstruction projects. Other listening, praying and loving believers will help too. It won’t be easy. Reconstruction never is. Easy is accommodating, rationalizing or excusing the deconstructed mess. Wholeness and wellness is the outcome of the hard fought, reconstruction of faith. Listening to the former pastor speak from his deconstructed life on the podcast, I did not hear wholeness and wellness. It was sad. He sounded lost and trying to convince himself that his “lost-ness” was better. It’s not. Deconstruction brings questions, worries, and insecurities in the Great Unknown. Reconstruction leads back to Jesus.
We will be reconstructing our landscape wall and this next time, Karla will give the directions and keep me and the wall straight. It will involve tearing it all down (again!!!) and starting over (again!!!). It won’t be easy. Sometimes one has to reconstruct what had been reconstructed. Keep reconstructing. Don’t give up. That’s the easy thing to do. Don’t deconstruct without a plan to reconstruct.