Last night, I watched the movie Eat Pray Love. The main character Liz Gilbert, played by Julia Roberts, is a woman reeling from the loss of her marriage. At her lowest point, Liz introduces herself to God and prays, “Hello, God. It’s nice to meet you.”
Through tears, she cries out, “I’m in deep trouble; tell me what to do.” Her life is in ruins. Eat Pray Love is the story of how one woman finds a way to rebuild her life – to restore the ruins.
Restoring the ruins is a process.
Last year, my church’s women’s ministry held a Beth Moore Bible study called Breaking Free. It’s a series focused on how we put ourselves in bondage, either by our way of thinking, our expectations, or our beliefs. Suffering comes from the lies we believe, prejudice we experience, or family faults and hurts – which may stem from a difficult marriage, loss, or even death.
All hurts can be ruinous. Some of these injuries are recent, but some may have happened long ago – ancient ruins. Through Beth Moore’s teaching, we learned to think of these ruins in new ways, to have “courage to extract the precious from the worthless.” We must transform the wreckage in our lives.
I’m still in process.
In the movie, Liz visits the ruins in Rome and discovers how amazing they are. No matter what disasters have befallen the ancient buildings, they’re continually transformed to new beauty. While I’m not sure I can accept everything in the movie, this line stood out to me: “Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.”
Ruin is a gift, a mercy of God, one of his reminders. If it weren’t for ruin, we wouldn’t see our need for transformation. If we change the way we look at ruin, we may regain beauty. Then we will be free to love ourselves and, in turn, love others again – despite the ruins. Because of the ruins.
The LORD will
“bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair….
They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.”
Out of the ruins, may we all have courage to extract the precious from the worthless.
–Judy Martens is a member of Arnold Community (MB) Church, Abbotsford, B.C. This piece originally appeared on her women’s ministry blog “Prime Time” at acclto.blogspot.com.