What if I told you that sometimes in order to build up, you need to first tear down?
My sister and her husband bought a 200-year-old farmhouse that had been abandoned for years before they purchased it. To me, it looked like the money pit. To them, it looked like an incredible investment. Before they could begin fixing it up they hauled away five industrial-size dumpster loads worth of trash. They had to tear out sections where bees had built hives into the drywall. They removed dried-out snake skins left dangling from rafters. Squatters had left behind belongings, broken down furniture and creepy headless baby dolls for them to discard. You get the picture.
Imagine for a moment what a mess they would have been in if they had not cleared out the refuse before trying to fix things up. Often, I think we are guilty of doing this in our lives; trying to move forward without dismantling what needs to come down. When we work this way, we are working in yesterday’s mess, and find ourselves trying to build towards the future while surrounded by chaos. But if we are willing to do the work of clearing out before we build up, we can do what my sister and her husband did and make a mansion out of a mess. So how do we begin?
- Admit there’s stuff that needs to go
I think too often, we struggle with this piece because it requires admitting we are wrong. It’s hard to accept that the relationship you spent so long investing in is holding you back. It’s hard to look at that business partner that you spent so much energy on and realize they aren’t going where you are going. It’s hard to look at oneself and concede there are ways of thinking and being that need to be torn down before we can get on with what matters. It’s hard to admit that there are some situations and people you cannot change, and so your energy is best spent somewhere else where you can be more fruitful.
Do you know that I started this year with a place in my prayer journal called, “Deconstruction Zone?” I created that tab in my journal because I was thinking about all the altars that the Israelites were commanded to tear down in the Promised Land that they refused to take care of. What did it mean when they served God but refused to deconstruct the altars for idol worship? For them, it meant they took two steps forward and one step back. For them it meant being in the Promised Land but remaining shut out from the fullness of their promise. For them, it meant being anemic rather than empowered.
As I studied these scriptures and looked at my own life, there were some pretty clear places where I needed to dismantle things. It was time to admit what was holding me back. Tying me to my past. Keeping me from my destiny. So what did I do? First I prayed hard about each area that seemed like it belonged in the deconstruction zone and then, once I had peace about it, I started quitting stuff, clearing out space and making room! The result? A huge forward surge in some areas of my life that were lying as stagnant pools before.
2. Fight through your fear
So many times we leave those altars up because we are afraid of what might happen if we tear them down. Maybe someone will be hurt. Maybe no other opportunities will come to fill that empty space. Maybe we will be alone. Maybe we will feel rejected when the response to our leaving is radio silence or a real lack of concern.
The reason so many of us stagnate is simple. Change is uncomfortable. We would rather maintain the unsatisfying status quo rather than try something new. Why? Because we are used to things being the way they are. As bad as that relationship is, we know what to expect! As intractable as this work situation is, we have worked with those people for years. We like everyone on that committee even though it never gets anything done…. And so on. And if you are anything like me, you hate conflict.
But here’s a clear equation. Growth = Change. If you want to grow, you are going to have to make changes. If you want to achieve your God- given destiny, you have to be willing to ask the question, “What is standing in my way,” and then be willing to dismantle it piece by piece in spite of your fear. Partner with love and not fear, meaning embrace the love of what you want to do, be and become more than the fear of how others will react. Don’t hide inside your own life! Walk in how you were designed, for your desires are connected to the very purpose of your life. Boldly march into the next season, facing your fears and deconstructing every obstacle that stands in your way.
3. Know your Why
Once you look at what needs to be done, it can feel overwhelming. It can look insurmountable. It can feel far off. Remember that success happens step-by-step and there are no shortcuts. If you will simply remember to honor the next step on your journey, you will eventually graduate past this deconstruction season into the construction season. Remember, my friend that the word graduation is rooted in the word gradual. Stay with your process.
So how do you do that when it is so easy to lose heart and get discouraged? The answer is simple and profound. Know your why. Why am I doing this? Why do I exist? Why am I here? Why does this matter? Those are difficult questions, but ones worth pursing. The pursuit of this ‘why’ is what keeps us on course. When we know our why we will do hard things and we will move past the cognitive dissonance that can keep our minds fuzzy and unfocused. Knowing our why keeps us strong enough to handle the pressure when things heat up.
In closing, let’s look back at my sister’s beautiful farmhouse. In the end, it was stunningly appointed. They repurposed barnwood and made a beautiful bathroom sink. They refinished the wide hardwood floors and left the original 200 year old beams, fireplaces and banisters exposed. Buyers fell in love with it because of its authenticity.
What am I saying? Bound up in your willingness to deconstruct before you build is the possibility of becoming the most authentic version of yourself, because in the process of tearing things out you will discover what beautiful treasures are hidden deep beneath the rubble.
Dr. David Benner says, “Simple being is tremendously difficult to achieve and fully authentic being is extremely rare.” In our quest towards authenticity, we must embrace reality. And the reality is, there are things that stand in between us and our destiny. Concrete, real-life, everyday things. It is up to us to identify them and then begin to work in the deconstruction zone long enough to lay the foundation for our future.
2020 Copyright by Misty Tolle
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