One of the things I love about being in school, especially in a subject that I’ve circled around my whole life, is randomly when I’m reading hundreds of pages for school, something jumps out of the page at me and gives me words for my reality. I’m doing some reading for my Gospel and Cultures class and we’re learning about a process called Appreciative Inquiry, which inevitably, we’ll conduct as a project for the class. But within the framework of research and how we discern what is going on in a community, the term “social constructionism” was defined. It’s basically about how we use language to understand reality. Here are a few quotes from my book,* “Social construction counters determinism - whether cultural, psychological or historical. We use discourse - ongoing, thorough conversation - to make social meaning out of our pasts, to imagine possible futures, and to form cooperative practices.” (p. 45) Also, “We live our lives within a construct - a world created among our lives and in our minds largely through language.” (p. 44). It also talks about how social constructionism rejects “the belief in objective observation and pure empirical knowledge.” (p. 45). Why am I talking about this using quotes on my blog?!?! Because in learning this term, I have a definition for what I’ve been doing on this blog for 5 years.
I’m taking my trauma, especially being fired from ministry via my husband being fired from ministry, and I’m trying to sort it using language and engaging socially to imagine a new future as I sort my past.
That’s fucking crazy! Apparently, I’m a genius. No, but seriously, I’ve gotten some shit for what I do, being vulnerable in public and not expecting people to weaponize it. But this is actually a really reasonable thing to do - to take your stuff and process it publicly with feedback and support to reimagine something else. It doesn’t mean everyone can do it with you, hence the pushback I’ve received. And that’s fine. But actually, I’ve navigated this process knowing that my story and experience is specific to me, with the assumption that it might help someone in their process. That’s why offense surprised me - I’m not saying my stuff is true in other contexts. I’m saying my stuff is true to me just as your stuff is true to you. And in identifying my stuff, I grow more self-aware and kind. That’s it. I just have a word for it now.
* Mark Lau Branson; Memories, Hopes, and Conversations: Appreciative Inquiry, Missional Engagement, and Congregational Change (Rowan & Littlefield, 2016).