Guest Blog Writer: Janice Ross
“Deconstruction of your faith”. What does it mean and what, in particular, does it look like? When I think of the word “construction”, I think of a building going up or a car being made or perhaps something as simple as a puzzle being put together. Deconstruction then would be a building being taken down, or a car being taken apart, or a puzzle being broken apart to be put back in the box.
But faith is different: it is intimate. It speaks to the mind and the heart of a person. The implications of its presence or absence in a person’s life makes all the difference in the world. It is no small thing and therefore is not a subject I deal with lightly.
I was 5 years old when my family started going to the local Plymouth Brethren church and it was in that church that my husband and I were married 16 years later. We left about 14 years later to go to a Christian Missionary Alliance church. After a few years we moved to a small town and for 1 year we attended the local Presbyterian church. Looking back, we would both say that each of these moves involved a sense, however slight, that there was something more. We weren’t even sure what that was, just that we were spiritually hungry. Then we discovered something called the Vineyard and we couldn’t resist the call to the evangelical charismatic community. It happened to be the little church next to the Toronto Pearson airport that would evolve into the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship which became a place of major revival.
Where did my faith begin? I don’t know. I can’t pin it down to a date. I think that over time, going to church became synonymous with having faith and I was definitely not the type to ask questions or examine things like this too closely. But by the time revival had broken out, my husband and I found ourselves on staff at TACF and after a rocky start (in coming to terms with “revival”) I embraced it wholeheartedly and our lives changed dramatically. We began to travel to speak all over the world and having begun my Christian life in a church where women were not allowed on the platform, I felt like a bird released from a cage.
In around 1998, my husband and I left our positions on staff to travel full time and we I loved it. I think that going to Israel in 2005 was the high point for me. It was such a privilege! But in the aftermath of that trip I began to sense something happening deep inside. It was almost imperceptible at first: a sense of tiredness, running low on gas so to speak, a feeling that maybe the grace was running out. Believe me, it requires a lot of grace to live the itinerant lifestyle. But it was more than that: it got to the point where every time I opened my mouth to speak I felt increasingly like a fraud.
The more I looked back over my life, what I had thought of as being faith, seemed nothing more than me donning the appropriate set of clothes, whether they be Brethren, Alliance,Presbyterian, Charismatic or what have you. In other words, I began to question whether I had ever had a real faith of my own or if I had just adopted some kind of substitute and mistaken it for the real thing. Then finally came the day when I hit that proverbial wall and I actually said the words, “I can’t do this anymore”. It was at that moment that I finally realized that I was tired. Tired to the point where I was ready to walk away from it all. And not just for a week or a month but for good.
For me, from that moment on, everything stopped, and looking back I can only think of that time as if I had gone into a spiritual coma. There was no more going to church, no more “quiet times” or “devotions”, no more speaking or travelling to meetings or conferences. My bible sat on a table collecting dust and frankly I didn’t care. The only thing I remember feeling was an incredible sense of relief that I didn’t have to do all these things anymore nor did I have the energy or desire to even pretend to. The strangest part of all this was that just as a comatose patient does nothing but lie on a bed (yet the mind can be active) I did nothing to contribute to a relationship with God, yet I knew I wasn’t dead. Somewhere deep in my spirit I figured if God is who he says he is then he could and would keep me alive.
It wasn’t until 2017, eleven years later, that I began to wake up so to speak. My husband had continued to travel and speak and be fruitful all around the world. Having spent the last 11 years collecting dust along with my bible I began to yearn for something more, for something real. Being home alone I really began to get in touch with my loneliness and lack of affirmation and connection. When my husband came back from a trip I remember sobbing out my feelings on his shoulder, having little knowing that this was Father God waking me from the coma.