Friday, August 16, 2013

it's often easier to rebuild than to redeem

"It’s often easier to rebuild than to redeem."

I've always been apt to believe this statement, and for many years, I lived this way.

Imagine your house was completely gutted by a fire, but structurally, the building was mostly sound. You lost everything you owned - with the exception of a few things that managed to survive the fire, and even those last few things have severe water damage from the firefighting efforts. Of course, you still hold the memories in your heart, but every material possession that held any value to you - destroyed. 

How do you fix it? All costs aside, you have two options - demolition and rebuilding your house from the ground up, or hours and hours and hours of scraping through the ash and the rubble of your former life - cleaning it up enough to start massive renovations to make your home habitable once more. 

Rebuilding your house would be easier emotionally, and quite possibly practically. The demolition work wouldn't be that hard - your house was already essentially destroyed. And then the rebuilding starts. You get to design your own brand new home. You get to make absolutely certain that the wiring is up-to-code, the rooms are built exactly how you want them, and the decor is precisely your style. At the end of the process, you have a brand new home with brand new everything, and you can make brand new memories. 

To renovate your house and get rid of any evidence of fire, you have to be willing to get dirty. You have to face the mess, the damage, and the debris. You have to assess the situation, see what can be salvaged and what has to be replaced. You have to consult with numerous professionals and get multiple quotes to compare. Finally, you actually get to start the work of fixing the place up and restoring your home to it's original state, with the option of changing it up a bit if you would like. Maybe you were just waiting for an excuse to buy that new living room set, or that new TV. Maybe you wanted to change the colour scheme, but had never gotten around to it. (Life always seems to get in the way of those sorts of things, doesn't it?) By the time you're done, you have your home back. It has the same foundation, the same shell as your old house, but the insides are a heck of a lot nicer now then they were before the fire. 

Now, I have never experienced a house fire, so I don't know which option I would choose in this circumstance. I don't think either one is wrong. One option is not better than the other here, they're just different. Maybe rebuilding your house from the ground up is the best choice for you, and maybe you are committed to restoring your old house to a standard that is pleasing. Either way, you've dealt with the issue - you had a house fire, and you needed to do something about it. 

I'm going to use the house fire as a metaphor for other things in our personal lives that seem to have just as devastating an effect on our wellbeing, but this time, it's our emotional self that's being impacted. I understand that these things are very different, but please bear with me.

As many of you who read this blog know, my mental health has been a struggle for me throughout the years. I've been diagnosed with a laundry list of mental illnesses, and I've had to walk through a lot of hard times as a result. Many times throughout the years, I felt as though my life was in shambles. I've pretty much always had hope that one day, things would normalize and I would be free of the torment I suffered through on a daily basis. 

As a result of my struggles, I burned a lot of bridges. I kept people at arms length, and when the rare few were able to slip past my protective front, I pushed them away. I gave up on my education for a few years. Whenever things would get too overwhelming, I'd move on. I'd recreate my life from the ground up. Sometimes that meant moving across the country. Sometimes it meant changing schools. It usually always involved a change in location of some sort. 

I can't even tell you how many times I up and changed my whole life because I had messed things up so badly and I felt like I needed a fresh start, a chance to do things right. I took the easy way and rebuilt my life from scratch repeatedly - in hopes that things would be better this time around. I made new friends, I took new classes, I learned a new way of life - and sometimes, it even worked for a short time...long enough to deceive myself into believing that - miracle of miracles, I was healed! I always picked up a new hobby to go along with my new life, and I obsessed over it. 

Evidently, that didn't work for me, because a few months later I just wanted to do the same thing again. Drop everything, and rebuild my life from scratch. The last time I moved, I was moving to yet another new school, with new friends, new classes. I was moving to a place where no one knew me. This time, I decided I'd try something new. I committed to viewing my first semester at Gordon as an experiment (like I'd heard plenty of times the previous summer..."You've lived your whole life one way, and it hasn't worked yet. Why not try something new? View it as an experiment. If you don't like it, you can always go back to your old way of life later...).

I decided to let down my guard. I allowed people to know me - the good, the bad, and the ugly. Healthy people who might run at any given moment. People who weren't being paid to stick by me through hell and high water. I opened up to people and learned to ask for support when I needed it, and I experienced mutually beneficial relationships with people who saw me as a human being for what felt like the first time in my life. 

Instead of running from my past, I started to face up to it. I began to ask God to redeem the brokenness that was my life, because only He could take something that rough around the edges and make it smooth again. I stood firm, began to address the...shit, and I began to mature into a person I never, ever thought I could be. 

For me, rebuilding or recreating my life was so much easier. It was more like running away and deceiving myself, but it was a new life nonetheless. For me, it was not the right option. A change of scenery, new people, new hobbies, a new school...that was never enough for me to change. A new life wasn't what I needed. I needed to be transformed.

My life is undergoing major renovation, even still. I struggle. I have lapses. I have issues that need to be addressed. I have to continually remind myself that walls are important for the structure of my 'house', but every room needs to have an entrance. Doors exist for a reason, and they can be opened and shut when they need to be. For me, the right decision was to choose to stand firm, and ask God to redeem my life. He's taking the brokenness and restoring it to what it is supposed to be. It's hard, and more often than not, it hurts like absolute hell, but I have a feeling that all this work that's going into my life right now is definitely going to be worth it. 

When you recreate your life from the ground up, all those bridges that you burned don't matter. You don't have to fix all the damaged buildings, or cracked windows. You don't have to fill in the potholes. You just replace them. You repave the roads, rebuild the bridges, build a whole new house. Essentially, you get to leave all that in the dust and move on. 

Perhaps, for some of you, that is the right option. Maybe there really is nothing left for you in your currently environment. Maybe you do need to create a whole new circle of friends. Maybe a location change is a must to get away from your old habits. That's entirely okay...heck, even I needed one last change in location to allow myself the freedom of hunkering down to do the real work that needs to be done. 

Maybe you were like me...always hoping that a change of scenery or new friends or a new school or a new life would be the solution. I promise you that it's not. You're always there...where ever you go. I urge you to consider taking an honest inventory of your life - your strengths, weaknesses, life experiences...and seeing what there is to work with. If you think there's not much there, well, maybe there's not...but there's always SOMETHING. It might be a tiny ring buried somewhere in the rubble of the charred remains of your house, but there's always something. Hold on to that something, and use that as the springboard into the major renovations that are going to take place in your life. 

But please, don't lose hope. Even the most broken, pitiful lives can be 'renovated', restored, and yes, even redeemed. 

There is hope for you yet, child. 

There is hope for you yet. 

1 comment:

  1. This is deeply powerful.
    And also happens to speak to me on so many levels...thankfully we're not going alone through this transformation thing :)


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