“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again” (John 2:19 NET).
Death and life, destruction and construction, desolation and consolation. Cycling through these is painful, and existing among them is reality. Enduring them is wearying, and growing from them is necessary for survival.
The last time I was writing consistently was over a year ago, before the stars went dark. It was in the midst of descent into depression. Some say depression and the Dark Night of the Soul are distinct. I’m confident that is true some of the time. I’m confident they overlapped for me.
I began to wake up in the fall of 2016. I was too alert yet without the grounding to handle what I could see. I began to sink. Even as I saw truth clearer and knew myself and wisdom and Scripture more intimately, I floundered in that insight.
Even at work, serving clients in crisis, my long-time skill of holding the pain with clients and then letting it go began to fail me. I think of it like my wife Chrissy’s travel mug. When it was intact, liquid sat inside and rinsed out as desired. When it cracked, water seeped into the insulating layer, trapped and becoming a permanent, wet mess in the inner workings. I was a cracked mug.
The journey out, as is nearly always true, was through. It involved patience, relationships, and counseling. Through it all I experienced the third major spiritual deconstruction of my adulthood.
Deconstructions are uncomfortable and lonely and scary, and they can’t be rushed. The only way out is to give up entirely or to trust it will ease if you hold on long enough. Good friends tend to help too.
I arose from deconstruction and depression and relational withdrawal after about a year and a half, not too long ago. And wow, it feels good to breathe again!
Now the more interesting and engaging stage has begun. Reconstruction, like deconstruction, is also temporary. Usually it’s faster and shorter, but just as important, and it sets the foundation for the impending period of stability that involves living newly earned and assembled perspectives and postures.
Now that some of my reconstruction has taken place, I feel a greater and greater impulse to write everything down, to draft the blueprints that have been designed in part by my own effort and in part by the received wisdom of various authors, teachers, friends, family members, Scripture, and the Spirit.
I want to write it for my own sake, to process it more thoroughly, more clearly, and articulated meaningfully. I want to write it for the sake of my friends and family, that they may know me better and to share with them what I have received from so many sources. I want to write it for you, so if you too hope to build something fresh in your own life, you may benefit from the path I have walked.
I thought about using systematic theology subcategories as prompts to begin, but that doesn’t seem right, at least not for now. I thought about starting with the topic I recently discussed with aspiring members of my church community, but that would require comprehensive context to make much sense.
I think I’ll start at the beginning, the very Beginning. And tell the tale of creation, God’s people, and everything, as I now understand it all to fit together. So here I’ll end, ready to begin, much as in my life as in the sharing of my thoughts, and next time, I’ll start at the beginning and wander on from there.
In the meantime, I wonder who else has felt and lived and traveled paths similar to mine. Perhaps you’ve come out the other side or maybe you’re still stuck in darkness. I wonder if you’ll share what you experienced and what pulled you in and helped you out and where you landed on the other side. Maybe I and others can benefit from your shared story as well from wisdom or commiseration.
Published by Brandon Johnson