Why does God need to put us through a deconstruction process? Why can’t He simply remodel? It’s because we all need our lives rebuilt. And sometimes those of us with the fanciest, well-made spiritual houses need the most spiritual deconstruction before reconstruction can begin.
There’s always this impression, and I’m not sure where it comes from, that if you do what’s right, somehow everything will work out for you. It’s there, this crazy belief that if you keep God’s commandments and desire to do what’s right, and try, of course, that you’ll somehow be exempt from hard times. The scriptures don’t teach this. And religious history (pick any religion) contains multiple accounts of the very best people having the hardest times of all.
Growing up, I somehow accepted this way of thinking until about ten years ago. I believed I could avoid the pain and suffering others went through if I was merely righteous. I wasn’t particularly judgmental of others. But I did often think to myself, “If they would just keep the commandments, everything would be so much better for them.” And I wasn’t wrong. But my thoughts were motivated by all the incorrect impressions of what “better” was.
The Prayer that Started it All
I remember, very clearly, getting on my knees many years ago and realizing I had never really put my life in the Lord’s hands. I had never honestly said, “Thy will be done.”
They had been more along the lines of: “Look at how good I am at keeping all these commandments. Don’t you want to give me what I want now?” Did I say that? No. But I got on my knees every night and repeated my rote prayers, throwing in a request for things I wanted, none of them evil, of course. But, never once did I stop and say, “What is it YOU want me to do? Am I supposed to go this direction, or do YOU have a different one for me, God?”
So, that night, what did I do? I told God I would go wherever He wanted me to go and do whatever He wanted me to do. And I bit my lip and felt a clench of fear.
I thought, “What horrible thing is He now going to ask of me?” Not the best way to respond to a supposedly heartfelt desire to give your life over to God, but it was the best I could do at the time.
I was doing it then because, for years, I had felt very strongly that my marriage was not right. I’d never been able to put my finger on it. I had talked myself to death with my husband. He always said everything was fine. But my heart told me otherwise. So, that night, I told God, “I don’t know what’s not right, but I’m ready now to go in whatever direction you say.”
The Deconstruction Process
From that day forward (yes, I can pinpoint it successfully to one prayer), God promptly tore my life apart. I call it the deconstruction process. We always think its other people, people who don’t appear to be as active, or Christian, or devoted to God who need their lives rebuilt.
But let me tell anyone who reads this story—we all need our lives rebuilt. And sometimes those of us with the fanciest, well-made spiritual houses need the most spiritual deconstruction and reconstruction.
My marriage? Well, it continued to decline. We had a great home but left it behind for a move my husband said he needed. Then, within two years, to my utter surprise, he wanted a divorce. We went through all the usual ups, downs, struggles, and meetings with the bishop with tears over dinner on our date night. We had two temporary separations, but none of my righteousness choices could save it. Only I didn’t know it at the time.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave a General Women’s Conference address titled Fourth Floor Last Door. It’s about what faith can and can’t do. When he spoke, I said a very, hearty, but silent, AMEN! My conviction came with one of the hardest experiences of my life.
It was time for our second, and last, separation. My husband (at the time) decided he didn’t want to be married anymore, but he also didn’t want to file for a divorce. I took this as a sign from God, “I can still save my marriage!” And so I tried, but it was from 1600 miles away through random emails and phone calls. It was after trying these things that I had a horrible experience.
For most of our marriage, we had gone to the temple every single month, with few exceptions. Ten years of going every month added up to 120 temple visits where we were actively participating in the ordinances. We had gone every month until the last year before this horrible experience. He’d stopped going with me. And, I—too paralyzed by depression and horror at my failing marriage—had barely gone either.
The Journey into Darkness
After living at home with my parents for about two months, I went to the temple—all by myself. I was confident I’d find the answers I needed to save the marriage, yet the whole trip I was under a dark cloud. It wasn’t the kind of dark cloud you can see with your eyes but one you feel with every fiber of your being. You can hardly walk, stand, talk, think, or process intelligent thought.
I drove two hours to the St. Louis temple. I entered. The dark cloud was still there. I went through the session. The dark cloud was even heavier, more oppressive. It was crippling.
I sat in the temple with a vortex of the most depressing and crushing thoughts. Rather than relief, I the weight felt more oppressive and burdensome. It was crippling.
You see, I wasn’t the only woman in my husband’s life. And, I knew making it work would mean this “other woman” would forever be present. Circumstances—which I won’t elaborate on—dictated that I would never be free of her. Yes, I was willing. I just kept telling God if He would save my marriage, I would figure out how to make it work with her there. And then I would spiral into the darkness knowing full well to do so would crush any life left in me.
In other words, I was willing to make it work understanding to do so would kill me. I already felt half-dead.
I left the temple. The darkness was heavier.
This is self-sacrifice, right?
This is what I have to do to save it, right?
The thoughts wouldn’t leave me be. I ate by myself and then drove home alone.
I remember coming home and telling my mother about my experience. “Isn’t the temple supposed to be the one place we can find peace?” I asked as tears I shouldn’t have been able to cry leaked down my cheeks. My mother nodded. She knew better than to try to counsel me. She could have. And her words would have had all the answers, but not the ones I needed.
The Purpose of the Darkness
I drug myself upstairs. I was in a state of shock. Never in my life had my experience in the temple gone more against what I knew to be true. I couldn’t reconcile the experience with what I knew and had experienced in the temple over the prior ten years. I couldn’t reconcile it with what I knew and had felt of God.
I knelt beside my bed, said, “Dear Heavenly Father…” and then just cried. I cried and sobbed and wept for at least twenty minutes. Then, I said, “In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
Suddenly, I felt the dark cloud had lifted. There was still greyness hanging in a ring about my mind, but the darkness dissipated. Then the truth hit me in a way I can’t describe. I heard the words in my mind, not out loud, but they couldn’t have been more clear, “You don’t have to save it anymore.”
What? I asked the voice right back.
You don’t have to save it anymore. Let the marriage go.
I almost wanted to argue, But, I thought…
Then more strongly, It’s time to let go.
I remember sitting there. I considered arguing, but I was too tired. OK.
Then, without asking, the voice answered my unspoken and sobbing question:
The darkness in the temple was what you brought in. You brought in and were determined to hold on to, a thought that was against my will. The result of such is always darkness. You wouldn’t listen. After such darkness, you are finally prepared to listen…
A feeling of peace and relief washed over me. I shivered because the change was so inexplicably dramatic. A sudden weight was gone. Oh, I was still worn out. I was still swollen-eyed and raw in my heart. But I felt God’s love for me. I felt my mission “to save the marriage” had finally been tabled — and if God tabled something, what choice did I have? I wasn’t going to fight against His will, nor did I want to try to save it anymore. I was ready to be done. I just hadn’t allowed myself to think it.
Why couldn’t you save it? I thought to myself.
The answer came: because not even the appearance of an angel would have changed his mind. His mind was made up, and I don’t force people to do my will. They must choose it.
The Next Day
Then, I went to bed. I was up early the next morning, and couldn’t fall back to sleep. I felt raw like a newborn baby yet new, fresh, and different. The definition and confines of my life had just radically changed. The truth had changed darkness to light.
My parents were gone already. I sat in a chair near a large, antique window. The curtains were sheer, and early morning sunlight poured in. My mind had never been so quiet. I had hardly to think, let alone ask a question, and the Spirit taught me something. It was a blessed day.
I didn’t ask anything, to begin with; I simply sat quietly.
You must let him go so I can allow the full weight of the consequences for his choices to play out. As long as you are bound together, he cannot progress. I have to protect him for your sake. You must let him go. You must be the one to file for divorce. He has to hit rock bottom before he is ready to listen to me, to be raised again. The longer you wait, the longer I must wait for the opportunity to bring him home.
It had never occurred to me that I was holding my soon-to-be ex-husband back from spiritual progression. We always assume spiritual progress is moving upward, right? For most of us, it begins with downs—trials and sufferings—and ends in a giant catapult upward. Then, more downs and another giant jump upward.
God didn’t only need to deconstruct my life. He needed to deconstruct my ex-husband’s life too.
So, why does God need to deconstruct? Why can’t He simply remodel? I think we all know the answer. You can’t put old wine in new bottles, or vice versa. (Check the New Testament for that reference😊).
I think that was the end of God’s major reconstruction of my life. It took another five years for the scaffolding of my new life to be put up. But, I’m on the other side now. The spiritual house is framed, and I am beginning to see the grand designs God might have in store for me.
Would I do it all over again?
Would I still get on my knees and offer to put my life in His hands? Would I give Him full license to deconstruct and rebuild my life? Absolutely. Because of this experience, I have never been the same. When God tore down my life, He put me in touch with the best contractor I have ever known—the Holy Ghost. I thought I knew how to talk to Him and Hear Him. I had already considered the Holy Ghost to be my best friend. But since this deconstructing experience, my ears, eyes, and heart have been opened like never before.
So, in a nutshell, if you’re righteous, you’re going to have struggles. And, perhaps those struggles will be harder than anyone else. God will deconstruct your life—if you let Him—and rebuild it for you. However, you will learn a more profound truth, and get far more than the spiritual house you were content to build.
You’ll get a mansion from the universe’s top spiritual contractor.
Have you experienced the deconstruction process?
Share the biggest lesson you learned in the comments!
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