Deconstructing a Christian life
You never fully appreciate how much of your life is intrinsically wrapped up in something until you lose that something. Whether it be the loss of a loved one at one level, or the loss of a job at another, life takes on a completely different perspective when that someone or something is no longer there. I experienced much of this over the last five years or so. A journey deconstructing the church is one thing, but when it comes down to it this does not have the effect of your own deconstruction. Having your life and all you have lived for and all that is familiar taken apart piece by piece until there is nothing left.
Personally I had gone through the experience of seeing my father go through the battle with cancer and thankfully win. but just as he was breaking through with the chemo my mum was diagnosed with the condition in exactly the same place. She never recovered. This loss is never replaceable with anyone or anything. An influence on my Christian upbringing, difficult at times, but she was my mum. Now she was gone. Soon after I was to lose my Nan who was also an amazing influence on my life and a rock. Watching dad go through the grief was heart-wrenching. But then one day seeing him pick up the pieces with a new woman was also difficult. Life was changing, relationships changing, familiarity disappearing, constants no longer there.
Had gone through this process in church life but it finally led to me being deconstructed instead. I resigned after a very intense battle with families and religious spirits. When finally the new young leadership that I had pieced together during the journey asked me to become more pastoral I had had enough and put in my resignation. I was very battle scarred. Wounded, hurt, disappointed, disillusioned, would even say bitter. But then there was always my itinerant preaching and prophetic ministry. In Wales Emerge was emerging with it’s emphasis on the supernatural. I never quite fit in there. The conference scene was drying up for me. When people find out you no longer ‘go to’ a local church they slowly stop inviting you to speak. Who wants a loose canon? My diary went from being full nearly seven days and nights a week to being totally empty, and this happened in such a short space of time. This is when I realised how much of me was wrapped up in that. How much of my identity was what I was doing not who I was. I loved preaching, I thrived on deconstructing and reconstructing church no matter who got hurt, I loved the daily life and the conferences and the attention.
But it was all gone…
For six months we survived on fresh air. At this point I was steadily getting into debt. My pain began reflecting in my whole life. I would not say I suffered depression but I was depressed. Did not have any meaning to my life anymore. At first the freedom from church life was amazing and liberating, but the space….the alienation…..the rejection…..the humiliation. The after six months I finally found a job working nights in Tesco’s local store. Working nights for the first time when you are feeling down on yourself is not recommended. I felt like this was the full humiliation now, from conference speaker to shelf-filler. Then there were those times when you bumped into people, and it was only then because nobody phones you anymore. Those great questions; ‘what are you up to now?’ I work on the night-shift in Tesco’s. (See unbelief and shock on people’s faces.). ‘Are you going anywhere at the moment? (i.e.church) No. (See end of conversation coming quickly.). ‘Do you think you will ever pastor again?’ No. Then the dreaded ‘we must have a coffee sometime (translated I will forget about you until next time I see you.)’. After six months in Tesco’s I moved over to the competitors Asda. Still working nights but it was a new store and a new team and time for a new beginning. The place of my restoration and revival.
But I still had to be totally stripped to my bone first before that could happen…
It is exactly a year ago I hit the bottom of my world. My life totally deconstructed. Lost my mother, my home in Lakenheath was changed beyond recognition. No church or recognised ministry. Night-work, disappearing ‘friends’. What else could be stripped away. All through my journey my wife Allison had been so patient. She watched me go through it in church leadership meetings. She listened as I told her of the latest critics. She stood by my side as I carried out my mad ideas on deconstruction and the prophetic. She loved the double-minded man who was unstable in all his ways. When the church life shrivelled up she was there loving me. But the deeper I fell into the pit the harder this was getting. The strain on our relationship was unimaginable. We are held together by elastic, but one day this snapped. Our communication broke down, our battle-ground changed from church to home, not in violence but in atmosphere and words. The wounds were getting deeper and deeper until one day exactly a year ago I packed my things and left. I was now sitting in a hotel room with nothing but my pain…and God!!! He was there watching it all. I was about to realise the truth of what David had written many years ago
even if I lay my bed in the depths you are there.
I had experienced what Jonah had, even when you jump overboard God is in the waves and the storm. All I had was God…but God was enough. People talk about God rescuing them, well he did me. He was more real at that moment than at any time I had prophesied truth to the Nation or preached to 17000 in India. He was real and He took the mess that I was and started to put me back together immediately. After a real wrestling session for a few days and nights He did something inside me and I knew I had to return home.
A rescued, renewed marriage
In a short space of time this relationship was restored to a miraculous level of love and trust and fun. As Bono once wrote, we are ‘stuck together with God’s glue.’
A rescued, renewed family
My four boys embraced and forgave a failed father over a short time. We have such an amazing time now. I love my boys to bits and often see God in their lives and experiences.
A rescued, renewed faith
He is real. He lives outside the box and He is real. The journey continues apace. Fresh vision for life. Fresh definition of ministry and calling and living for Him. The world is my parish. The world is my oyster, just wish there was not so much grit involved. He is in all and through all. I can now live what God had been revealing to me all along, but I needed to be totally stripped bare, nothing from the former journey could go on. Painful, life changing, the thumb print of a master potter. The broken hip joint from an angel. I walk with a limp but I am still walking.
He dwells in the aisles of Asda!!!!
Will tell some more stories about that next time.
So deconstruction!!!! Anyone want a bit of that now?
Even in the valley of the shadow of death, your rod and your staff they comfort me.
He is the God of the shadow!!!