What Do You Do After a Spiritual Tsunami Hits?

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

I watched some documentaries on the tsunami of 2004. I realised that the truly devastating part, the part where people needed the most help, was after the final blow. 

In this blog, I'm not talking about denial, unbelievability, unpreparedness, the extent of our pain, or anything like that. This blog is about what we do after the destruction has hit us.

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Take a Moment to Assess The Damage

First, you have to assess the damage. You've seen the movies where people walk through devastation following a tsunami. They are dumbfounded as they look around the flattened landscape where their homes, villages, plant life, 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 tsunamis, spiritual tsunamis are just as overwhelming and destructive. Because they not only catch us off guard and therefore vulnerable, but they leave us even devastated and feeling even more vulnerable. They level, destroy, and take things. They change our landscape forever.

To be honest,  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!

Decide What to Save and What to Let Go Of

Now you have to decide what's worth saving and what no longer serves you. Even though it looks like a complete waste, there are 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.

It was a crisis of faith. There were a lot of beliefs I allowed to go. There were a lot of things I thought which needed work. Some things survived but needed repair or upgrading. As brutal as tossing things might feel, saving things feels hopeful and somehow redeems the process.

Begin to Rebuild Your Life

Now we must make a new life. Everything has changed, including our spirituality. This is the costly but fun part. Unfortunately, what happens in some tsunami-devastated areas is that the villagers are encouraged to move to "safer" places. Resorts move in and take over the beachfront property. The displaced people struggle to feel at home again. 

We see this sometimes too with some people after deconstruction: they reject everything and move away to start a brand new life all over again in a 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 can be spiritually transformed 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 with 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.

Proceed At Your Own Pace

I know we are all in different places on our spiritual 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 as a way to prepare, a way to survive, or a way to figure out how to move forward.
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