I’m going to begin this post with a quote from a 90’s girl band.
“Water’s running in the wrong direction
Got a feeling it’s a mixed up sign,
I can see it in my own reflection
Something funny’s going on inside my mind.”
I’ve thought long and hard about writing this post but have only recently felt able to. If you have read my blog since John passed away you will kind of be able to trace the thread of this through some other posts.
The moment John died it was like someone had put an atomic bomb inside of every thought I ever had about everything. There was total devastation in my mind. It’s not an exaggeration to say it touched every part of my thinking, but there was one part that I couldn’t handle whatsoever, and I was scared, really scared. It came to a head in the following post, which you may wish to read or not.
I went to Manchester Cathedral, and I had it out with God. I told Him I had no idea where we went from here. Even just thinking about that time sends a cold shiver over me. I don’t think I have ever been so brutally honest with God before and it was so painful. I am now on a fascinating faith journey, one which I have discovered has a title, and it can happen to different people, for all kinds of reasons. It’s called deconstruction. Deconstruction is a bit of a buzzword at the moment in certain circles so let me clarify what I mean. I do not mean I am abandoning my faith or becoming cynical. That is not what is happening. However, my faith (and my whole life) was blown apart in every which way when John died and so I have to go over it piece by piece. Some parts are no longer there or are so broken they don’t fit together anymore so I have to deconstruct bits that may still be together to be able to reconstruct it in a way that means God and I can work this through. I was very fearful of this cause I had no idea what I was going to or should do. I just told the Lord I didn’t understand anything anymore but I did still want to believe in Him and I still loved Him despite all that had happened.
I held tight for a good few months through the summer and towards the end of last year just dealing with the shock of losing John wearing slowly off and all that came with that and found myself at the start of 2018 finally able to acknowledge the state of my heart and faith. I discovered that God had put people in my path that knew precisely what was happening with me. Firstly I had a conversation back in sept 2017 with my favourite lecturer at my college residential who had said a number of things I wasn’t expecting from him. These got me thinking in a different way. Another thing that prepared the way for this back in the autumn was I did an essay on Penal Substitution (a theory of what happened on the cross. Too long to explain here, try google :0). After reading Brad Jersak’s chapter in the book Stricken by God? which made all the hairs on my arms stand up, I cried and sat in silence for about 45 mins, as I realised this was answering a multitude of questions I wanted to articulate but couldn’t for so many years. I went on to write my essay and concluded that I had rejected penal substitution. On reflection, this seems essential to my faith journey as I found that there was a way of looking at things that I could ‘handle’ again, and this helped me incredibly.
By the time January hit I was ready for who God had in store for me, they were 2 very different lecturers, and the things they taught and the advice they gave after listening to my story was exactly what I needed. They didn’t give me any answers they just pointed me to different teachings and exercises and material. They reassured me and told me it was ok, and I didn’t need to be afraid. I thank God for them, cause they made me see a way through the devastation.
Come to the end of January a few weeks after the residential, and I probably had cognitive fatigue as I had watched a crazy amount of youtube videos and read a crazy amount of books from Brad Jersak, Brian Zahnd, Bruxy Cavey, Paul Young, Baxter Kruger and I had terrible Jaw tension. Looking back I know exactly what that was over, it was a weird expression of fear for all physical things that might change for me (they still might even as I write) but also the upheaval of dissecting my faith in so much detail so quickly, I was left in a state. In Feb there was a theology evening with my college at a local church and it took me half an hour to get out the car as my head was spinning with everything and my heart felt so heavy as I just didn’t know spiritually where I was headed. Thankfully God provided a song, and the lyrics said: “If you can calm the raging sea, you can calm the storm in me.”
It is still true there are many areas to pick over, and I haven’t made my mind up about a lot, but I have found some amazing things as well. Paul Young and Baxter Kruger’s teaching on the Trinity has totally transformed my spiritual life and has given me a fantastic way to connect with God. Brian Zahnd’s books and teachings and Brad Jersak’s ‘A more Christlike God’ book helped my relationship with God and Jesus more than I could explain in this blog. Nomad podcast, The (De)constructionists podcast, teachings from Greg Boyd and Bruxy Cavey have all been so helpful, along with many of Brad’s lessons in college and my therapist who has had to listen to me drivel on and on about everything but made some helpful observations and gave me a few pointers but turns out she was in line with my lecturers and the stuff I was reading all along.
So what does all this have to do with a quote from Girl’s Aloud? When I was listening to that song today these words hit a chord (no pun intended) within me. I felt like how they describe for a very long time. Thankfully I am much much more at peace now and very relieved. I’ve embraced my deconstruction.
More to follow in the next few blogs…