This has been one of those weeks where I’ve felt a bit like I’m coming apart. Mainly because I’ve been struggling with my yearly grass pollen induced sinus infection. Add to that a handful of ongoing middle aged maladies that I’ve accumulated in the past couple of years and my once strong, healthy self seems to be unravelling around me.
Now I know this is dramatic. Illness seems to have that effect on me.
But there are times when we truly do feel as if we are falling apart.
When a parent dies.
Or the marriage breaks up.
Or the test results come back and the news is so, so bad.
Maybe it is not even something obvious. The hardships of life can build up and take their toll until the combined effect is enough to have us coming apart at the seams.
In these moments we can feel as if we are being destroyed.
But after a while we realize we are still standing, so we are not destroyed.
What is often happening as it turns out is that we are not being destroyed, but deconstructed.
I had a few lessons in deconstruction this week. We signed my children up for a day camp called Camp Invention that focused on creativity and inventiveness. It was actually started by the US Inventors Hall of Fame and sponsored by the US Patent office, so they are pretty serious about this creating new stuff business. Since my children are both pretty creative, one in a crafty way and one in an “I want to build a robot that can teleport” kind of way, we thought it was a good fit.
What surprised me about this camp is that they spent the first part of the week not making things, but taking things apart to their most basic elements. Parents sent in all kinds of gadgets and appliances that were either broken or outdated that the kids broke open, unscrewed, removed and in general disassembled as much as they could.
For it turns out that the first step to making something great is undoing what isn’t working well anymore.
At first this seems like all chaos and destruction, but eventually a corner is turned. When at last the broken item is stripped down to its core parts, the creator begins using these same parts to complete the design of the new creation.
What begins as an item being torn apart and broken down, results in the building up of something new and better.
Because simply put,
Deconstruction precedes Reconstruction.
Now with my elementary school kids it was a matter of turning old clocks and calculators into a simple pinball machine. But with a more sophisticated inventor, you can imagine the possibilities.
Well, actually just look around you. Nature displays this process all the time.
My favorite example of this process is the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. Radiolab did an amazing episode where they chronicled what happened to a caterpillar in the chrysalis as is was changing into a butterfly. It turns out the caterpillar does not slightly morph from one form into another. No, it actually dissolves almost completely and then reforms all together. But the parts that make the butterfly are the same as made the caterpillar. For when the butterfly encountered a certain smell that accompanied a painful event it experienced as a caterpillar, it reacted as if it remembered the smell. Same parts, new creature. Deconstructed and put back together again in a remarkable new way.
So friends, if you are having a day or a week or a year where you feel you are falling apart, take heart. It may be that you are just being disassembled a bit. And though disconcerting, deconstruction is what will lead you to be reformed into an amazing new creature.
Better than a pinball machine. Better than even a butterfly.
Trust the creator. For in Love’s capable hands we are all made new.