Her words, which usually hold me up, dropped me — I saw myself shatter into a thousand little pieces.
Her lips, pointed so far down I wondered if they’d ever be turned around again, choked out the words, “I wish my teacher was my mommy. She never gets mad at me. Your yelling makes me feel so unloved.” I wondered if my own lips would either as I watched the tears stream down her face, her words breaking my heart with each syllable.
That night as I lay in my own bed, my eyes leaking, I thought about my own words from that day. These words I vomited out of my heart in moments of frustration and anger, these words which break the heart and spirit of a young girl. My heart falls on its knees before the Lord, aching and crying over my sinfulness. I think of Paul and the words he wrote thousands of years ago in his letter to the Romans: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
Isn’t it true that I pray the same prayer every night, and again in the morning, and all throughout the day? A prayer begging God for his love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Isn’t it true that my heart so desires to live by the Spirit and serve my family with love? Why then, do I continue to find myself in fits of rage and selfish ambition?
My heart falls prostrate as I accept forgiveness from the Lord, who knows we are sinners and could never keep the law. I feel the war within me each day — the war between law and faith expressing itself through love. I, too, know I could never keep the law but I fight each day against my sinful nature and pummel myself when I fail. I feel completely ruined.
Even my sweet girl had already forgiven me. I held her body so close to mine, stroking her hair and speaking gentle words to salve her precious heart. “I love you so much, my sweet girl. I’m so sorry I hurt you. I hope that tomorrow you will want me to be your mommy again.”
“I already do,” she replies, as she hugs even closer into me.
I wake up the next morning to fresh mercy, from the Lord, from my girl, and from myself. I remember Elizabeth Gilbert’s words in Eat, Pray, Love: “Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.” I pray that same familiar prayer, begging God to bear fruit within me, but I add something new.
Ruin me, Lord. Break down my Spirit so there is only room for yours. Transform me, renew my mind. I offer my every day, ordinary life as a sacrifice to you.
Defeat should not hold hands with feeling ruined. Ruin is a place to be built up again, into something new, something beautiful for God. I pray that I will be ruined. For my children’s sake, my husband’s sake. I pray that I will be ruined for Christ’s sake.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 3:17-18