What Do You Do After a Spiritual Tsunami Hits?

"Everything's Gone" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Everything’s Gone” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

OWN THIS CARTOON!

What do we do after a tsunami hits? What do we do after the devastation of deconstruction of our relationship to the church, our faith, our beliefs, and our religion?

I watched some documentaries on the tsunami of 2004. I want to talk about after the tsunami, not our anticipation leading up to it or our experience during it. So I’m not talking about the denial, the unbelievability of it, the extent of our pain or anything like that.

This is about what we do after the destruction has hit us.

1. ASSESS THE DAMAGE:

You’ve seen the movies where people are walking through the devastation following a tsunami. They are dumbfounded as they look around the flattened landscape where their homes, villages and people used to be. Pretty much everything is gone! As painful as it is, following our own deconstructions, we have to see it honestly, with eyes wide open, and look the destruction straight in the face. We have to be honest with what happened and what it has caused. There’s no point in saying that nothing or little happened, that it’s not that bad, or that this is manageable. It’s none of those. Like nature’s tsunami’s, spiritual ones are just as overwhelming and destructive. They level, destroy, and take things. They change our landscape forever. Be honest about it. When I went through my deconstruction, the damage was unbelievable. I still have a hard time remembering and accepting it. It did take me a while to wake up and finally assess it all. Everything had been touched: my church, my faith, my beliefs, my religion, my finances, my family, my friends, me. Everything!

2. TOSS AND SAVE:

Even though it looks like a complete waste, there’s things in the mess that can be saved. Underneath the rubble are things that can be salvaged. It means poking through all the mess to find a little good. When we realize everything and anything can be taken from us in an instant, every little thing takes on enormous value. It might be small, like a photograph, but how precious such a little thing becomes. There was a lot I had to throw out. There was the church I had to let go. There were people I had to say goodbye to. My relationship with Lisa changed dramatically: we had to say farewell to our naive kind of love and welcome a changed and more mature one. I had to immerse myself into a much deeper and honest kind of thinking about what I believed and what I knew to be true. There was a lot of beliefs I allowed to go. There were a lot of things I thought which needed work. There were some things that survived but needed repair or upgrading. As brutal as tossing things might feel, saving things feels hopeful and somehow redeems the process.

3. REBUILD:

This is the necessary and costly but fun part. Unfortunately, what happens in some tsunami devastated areas is that the villagers are encouraged to move to what are considered safer places and resorts move in and take over the beachfront property. We see this sometimes too with some people after deconstruction: they totally reject everything and move away to start a brand new life all over again in a totally different place. Although I’m not saying this shouldn’t be done, I am saying it doesn’t have to be. You can rebuild where you are. You don’t have to leave your church, you don’t have to leave your faith, belief or religion, and you don’t have to leave your partners and friends. Even though with some of these we might not have a choice, often we do and can renegotiate our relationships to them. I can say that I’m happier now than I’ve ever been. I’m also more sober. What I mean is I’m more serious, as in mature or wise. Lisa and I were talking about this recently. I posted a Facebook picture of Lisa and I leaving on our honeymoon. We were talking about how innocent and wide our smiles were. We wondered if we ever smile like that now. Lisa suggested that we do smile large now, but there is experience behind them. Lots of history. We also agreed that we want to continue moving on in our rebuilding project, that our home is not yet totally completed. We want to get to the place where the devastation is well behind us and we approach life with joy again. We’re almost there because we intend to finish this well.

I know we are all in different place on our journeys. Some of us are watching the tsunami coming, some of us are in the middle of it, some of us are just realizing it has happened, and some of us are past it. So take this post for a way to prepare, a way to survive or a way to rebuild.

I help people through their deconstruction one-on-one. For example, if you’re spiritual transition is putting a strain on your relationships, I can help you through that. Email me.

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5 Responses

  1. Caryn LeMur says:

    I love these thoughts! Yes, we can rebuild.

    and I really liked, “Lisa suggested that we do smile large now, but there is experience behind them. Lots of history.” LOL! Soooo true!! The smiles that come now have much shared history!

    And that is good! 🙂

  2. thanks caryn. i know you “get” it.

  3. Jack Russell says:

    Wow David – that’s a powerful cartoon with how things can feel sometimes. The figure being small with this big overhanging though of having lost everything loved.

    The stealing killing and destroying of a “tsunami”, finding good in the midst of it and rebuilding with joy. Sounds not dissimilar to how Israel, was in exile in Babylon for 70 years until only a remnant was left to rebuild Jerusalem after it had been destroyed.

    Can I say In my experience “deconstruction” is yes also painful – not a one off event but every day things dying off and being rebuilt. And as long as I am imperfect I expect this to continue. For me, accepting this has been like looking at it as a first release of software – buggy but subsequent releases being improved versions and the beauty of software being its malleability. Perhaps the kind of thing that Nelson Mandela called “the struggle” , Ghandi called “soul force” or “truth force” and Martin Luther King spoke of with love being powerful whilst receiving criticism for being an alleged “uncle Tom”.

    When you mention joy David, of course “the joy of the Lord is your strength” comes to mind. I don’t mean that as a platitude although it might sound like one. My “belief” is the love of God is the most powerful force in the universe. I don’t think that’s something that needs deconstruction but for me is what is central to rebuilding and joy.

    Oops – I may have just outed myself – better prepare from some hostility now ;).

  4. we are who we are and believe what we believe. no fear of outing yourself.

  5. Jack Russell says:

    Thanks David,

    I agree about being who we are and believing what we believe.

    I was kinda joking about the outing. If we want to take a serious approach then I would in principle express gratitude for what you say about no fear of outing. However naturally there always will be a fear to face with such things associated with approval and survival instinct that we all have. Which means it takes courage.

    So I would say there is fear to face but with perfect love, the love of God, that fear of disapproval is cast out.

    And then joy can take it’s place.

    I hope that helps :).

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