I’ve been reflecting on how we begin to rebuild our lives in these times of so much brokenness, so much confusion and chaos and uncertainty. Last week I turned to the majestic voice of Ecclesiastes, who famously announces there is a season for everything, “a time to break down,” for example, “and a time to build up.”

Perhaps we’ve had enough of breaking down right now. I have come to the conclusion, something felt quite deeply, that building up has got to be the focus of my life out ahead, for this season, perhaps for the rest of my life. I need to begin again to build up in any way possible.

Building up surely requires a reorienting, refocusing, a transformed vision. Building up requires building from the bottom up, from the foundations, building on a rock, not on sand. It requires building from new vision, seeing things anew, seeing new things.

In the Christian tradition we call this conversion, and yes, that’s what is required, a complete turn, a reordering of head and heart. We’re headed down the road and come to a crossroad. We discover our mistaken direction and make the turn. We head down another road. It feels like going home. We begin to remember there is another home besides the disordered one we’re living in. This is a threshold moment. It’s time to crossover.

And then, just imagine, as we get over on this new road, we find ourselves spotting new things all around us. What we see, we see differently. With new eyes. We find ourselves in a new land, new scenery, new vistas, new beauty. There are new flowers blooming in the desert. This is what conversion will do for us. This is where we begin to build up.

But how do we begin this crossover? In Mere Christianity C. S. Lewis contends it begins as we draw nearer to the heart of God, “each morning.” Yes, for me it begins early in the morning with a time of devotional reading, then the Psalms, prayer, stillness, silence, welcoming God into my little space. In other words this kind of reorientation requires commitment, discipline, daily practice, consistency. It starts quite simply sitting in your prayer chair. The rewards are nothing less than spectacular. Reordering begins in that chair. And then it grows.

“The first job each morning consists simply,” as Lewis puts it, “in listening to that other voice . . . letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. . . . Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.” Yes, a fierce wind has been blowing. We’ve all been buffeted about. But notice the wind is not the final word. Come in out of the wind. We can find a quiet place, something still, something steady. We can re-anchor on something solid. That’s my conclusion, my desire, these days.

This all has been huge for me. I know it can seem naïve to some, too narrow, too limited, but I am convinced change will only begin in the reordering of my mind, a whole new orientation of my heart. It begins at home. It begins in the still moments of welcoming the living God into my little space. This is actually the beginning of change for our world as well.

I was discussing with a group of friends the other day one of Paul’s magnificent lists of what the transformed life can look like. Paul announces, this time in Galatians, that such a changed life is defined by “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” In another place, he adds humility. “Love your neighbor as yourself,” he says, the highest commandment. Don’t get into biting and devouring one another.

Isn’t this what we desperately need right now, for our world, for our individual lives? Becoming people like this? Paul labors to be clear that this is not a new kind of “law” to which we must become slaves. No, this rebuilding is liberating change, ultimate freedom. But listen, here’s the key for Paul. This radically new nature is “the fruit of the Spirt.” It’s back to the prayer chair. As we come closer to the Spirit, each morning, we will slowly be transformed, reshaped, reoriented into a person of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Isn’t that extraordinary?

Isn’t this how we begin to build up instead of tearing down? I think it is.