Ruin is a gift...

In the movie, Eat Pray Love, there is a scene where Elizabeth Gilbert--sitting among the Roman ruins--says,

"Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation."

If you have ever experienced ruin, you likely feel the resonance of that statement. Ruin takes you to your foundations but it also clears away faulty craftsmanship and gives opportunity for something better.

Of course when living that out, few of us feel as serene as Julia Robert's character, Elizabeth, did saying that.  We usually find ourselves more like Steve Martin in The Jerk when he'd lost everything and attempting a dramatic exit doing things like...All I need is this phone.  This phone and this lamp. This phone and this lamp and this chair... On and on, until like Steve, we are in an awkward hobble out the door trying to take bits and pieces of the life we've built with us.

Five things to keep in mind when walking through ruin...

1.  As painful as it is, ruin sharpens our focus. 
Whether our particular flavor of ruin involved loss of things, position or relationships, loss improves our focus on what is essential. It clears away distractions and gives us laser focus.

Ruin will show us who our true friends are, what your real skills are, and will reveal what matters more to us than material wealth.

2. Shame won't kill us. (But it can make us honest.) 
There is something about shame that makes us feel like we are going to die. The weird thing is that shame is "common." Everyone experiences it.

Sometimes we fail spectacularly. And it's the big failures that create the most change in us. Why?  Because the enormous failures are the ones that everyone sees. The smaller ones are easier for us to manage and hide.  Exposed shame makes us honest about who we are and equips us to make changes moving forward.

3.  Loss can highlight what has value and what does not. 

The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians: "The fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss."

Ruin can feel like "escaping through the flames" and the pain can be intense watching everything we've built crumble to the ground until we are left with only the foundations.  It is at this point we have a choice.  We can start again using those same building methods or we can open ourselves to God (often we are so broken at this point we are open to the help) and allow Him to build something of higher value.

4. We won't want everything back that we lost. 
Ruin can cut away like a surgeons scalpel. And it is usually devastating in its suddenness.

While our first instinct may be to get back everything that has been cut away, that isn't always the best move. Sometimes loss has hidden advantages.

5. Ruin doesn't have to be a permanent condition. 
We can choose to hang out in ruin. (Many people with addictions do.) Or we can start where we are--at ground zero if we've lost everything--and move forward.

Ruin takes away any option of clinging to the past. There is only one way left to go and that is forward.

Ruin really can be a gift.

© Random Cathy
Maira Gall