Josh Irby

Live from Sarajevo

In Defense of Destruction: Why Letting Go is Good.

It is better to build than to destroy. However, sometimes destruction is necessary to make room for something better.

I am sitting in Sova Cafe—one of my favorite coffee shops in Sarajevo. (I wrote a large portion of my book here) Across the alleyway in front of the cafe, a red excavator is loading a jumble of wood, brick and metal into a dump truck. It claws the debris and releases a cloud of dust into the air. The tangle of rebar fights back, clinging to the past.  A smaller front loader with a jackhammer attachment tat-tat-tat’s brick from brick and concrete from metal. They are dismantling a building from the Yugoslav era piece by piece.

Photo Credit: Me

Photo Credit: Me

Sometimes I feel like that poor building across the street—dismantled, strewn about, in pieces. But I am realizing, destruction is not always bad.

Sometimes Life Destroys You

There is a type of destruction that enters your life uninvited. One day, everything is fine. The next, your world is falling apart.

You lose your job.
You are diagnosed with cancer.
Your child has health problems.
Your spouse is unhappy.

Life sends its excavator to claw through you. The enveloping smoke burns your eyes—you are disoriented.

Have you experienced this?

My friend Kathryn has. Three years ago this week, a routine right turn out of her neighborhood resulted in the dismantling of her former life. Her daughter survived the accident but as a new, different person. The weight on her family is tremendous. (You can read her blog here)

For many of us, the destruction is smaller. We dream big and fail. Our weaknesses are exposed. Circumstances remove our safety net. The excavator works differently in each of our lives, but one thing is always the same. It hurts.

Sometimes Destruction is Good

Destruction never feels good. But, often, it is.

The building across the street stood vacant for the past three years. The windows were shattered; graffiti covered the walls inside and out. It was a blight in the middle of town. Not anymore.

There are areas in our lives that need destroying.  Most of the time, we turn a blind eye. We cling to them for “historical” reasons. We cling to them because we don’t like change. We cling to them because we know that excavation hurts.

Then God helps us let go.

I notice that no one is standing beside the demolition site mourning the loss of this abandoned building. It needed to go.

As for me, I’m ecstatic. My usual view from this cafe is the backside of a dirty, forgotten building. Today, I am watching the sun paint the mountains.

Photo Credit: Me

Photo Credit: Me

Sometimes destruction is good.

In Kathryn’s situation, she will always mourn her daughter’s injury. There is nothing good about that. But there are now areas of her life where something new can be built. The ground is cleared and ready for reconstruction.

The excavator did not destroy her completely.

In fact, this painful process has strengthened her faith. She just completed her 100th straight day of blogging about the Bible. Somehow, the pain could not separate her from God.

What Do You Need to Destroy?

We don’t have control over the destruction life brings. But we can choose to knock down a few buildings on our own.

What are the old buildings in your life that you need to let go?

An unhealthy job
A destructive habit
A poisonous relationship
A long-held dream
An inaccurate self-perception

If you have the courage to call in the excavator, to make way for the jack-hammers, the result will surprise you.

A new view.
Space to grow.
Something unexpected built in its place.

What buildings are you going to pull down? Let me know in the comments.

About Josh

  • Poisonous relationship. Thanks Josh for sharing. Destruction is painful, but it does make room for something new. Truth be told.
    p.s love your blog.

    • Josh

      Thanks Molly for the encouragement. Relationships are the hardest for me to let go. Sometimes, you just have to.

  • Yes, Destruction is painful. I love the construction metaphor! Definitely a new image for me 🙂 I wish our circumstances were different, i.e. less story-worthy… But I’m thankful you consider them inspiring enough to share. I can’t wait for heaven – just imagine the stories! It will be good to be on the ‘construction’ side of things 😉

    • Kathryn, you are an inspiration. Thank you for the example of a life lived for God.

  • Josh, again, you hit the nail on the head (had to use a building metaphor!) Truth at its purest.