Ruined

My eyes don’t work anymore. I can’t see a pristine building, river or person and think that it is inevitably harboring life.

My ears don’t work anymore. I can’t listen to a sermon, a song or an excuse without sifting it for transformational substance.

My hands don’t work anymore. I can’t animate them to guard my rights assuming others have the same capacity to ensure their own.

My tongue and nose don’t work anymore. I can’t taste and smell the clichéd and commercial and call it good.

Ruined.

For me, I was ruined in the context of working internationally. Ruined by scooting up to a round table with folks who don’t see the world the way I was taught to see it. Ruined by being the hands by which a good book makes it into an impoverished child’s backpack. Ruined by the realization that everything good in me is in spite of me and ruined by the questions I can’t help but ask. Ruined by a faith that is strong enough and supple enough to resonate with every tribe.

What is true about us? We each have circumstances that make living into purpose easy in some aspects and challenging in others. For instance, family of origin may launch us with both resources and confidence into great unknowns like higher education and travel. But we may also live through deep rejection and a history of malnourished intimacy struggling to move more fully into sharpening relationships with others. Soberly acknowledging what is true about us can be a step towards transformation.

On the mornings we wake up thinking, What am I doing here? either laughing in disbelief or clutching the bedclothes in angst, the temptation is to isolate and insulate. We resolve to live into the abundance that is ours and to normalize it by surrounding ourselves with others who think and act like us, to reject other forms that once moved us but have been found wanting. (Note: for me this happens more frequently in my hometown than in my China town.)

I may not always have the luxury of sleeping on a weighty plywood mattress crammed into the space between the corner and the door-frame for the purpose of getting up in the morning and biking in the freezing temperatures to teach English to groups with gaps in education, economy and motivation. Someday I may have to wake on a soft feather pillow, take an endlessly hot shower and drive myself to an office where my contributions are appreciated and my efforts are generously compensated. Someday I may have to live a different dream.

Our purpose is often packaged in a role (parenting, teaching, leading), a relationship (wife, friend, daughter, sister), or a location (urban, terraced mountains, tropics). This is risky business because even the best and most fulfilling attachments and ambitions are temporary. Purpose is both general and specific. Think in moments and years. Think globally and locally. Purpose has to be transferrable. Otherwise, we are the wanderers who actually are lost, without vision to see the gold that actually does glitter.

What context has ruined you? What purpose is transferrable for you regardless of where you are or what roles you fill?

Photo Credit: Naccarato via Compfight

14 Comments

  1. Elizabeth February 19, 2014

    Love the bit about it being risky business to define our purpose in a role, a relationship, or a location. So true! And how if we don’t get this purpose thing right, then maybe *we* are the wanderers. Never thought about that. But I know I tend to define myself by those 3 things above. I feel that as I get older, I am constantly challenged in this area, to define myself only in God’s terms. Sometimes I am annoyed by this, because I’d like to just define myself in human terms, but I know it pushes me closer to Him.

    1. Kimberly Todd February 20, 2014

      I know that we’re supposed to be wholehearted in our attachments to our people, places, and roles. That wholeheartedness grows in me the less I define myself by them. The irony is constantly challenging and sometimes annoying (to borrow your words)… Thanks for chiming in, Elizabeth.

  2. Cecily February 19, 2014

    My “Transferable Purpose” is to follow the example of Jesus by doing only what I see the Father doing.  What a joy it is to be in sync with Him, sharing in the work He is doing, loving the people He loves!

    1. Kimberly Todd February 20, 2014

      It is joy to live like that. For anyone: How do you discern what the Father is doing? What do you do when you are out of sync with Jesus? (Hint: I’m asking about practices.) Thanks for a conversation starter, Cecily.

  3. Kristi February 19, 2014

    There was a period of almost a year and a half where I felt like I had no purpose – no reason to live, move, or be.  The truth that had to be cultivated in me was/is that my purpose is wrapped up in who I am in Christ and seeking His glory.  If I look to Him, lean on Him, and follow Him my purpose is being realized whether I feel it or not.

    1. Kimberly Todd February 20, 2014

      Kristi, your vulnerability here is charming. And I, too, get a lot of inspiration from the live, move, be passage. Those poets help us to connect our feelings to truth, huh? (wink)

      1. Kimberly Todd February 20, 2014

        You’ve modeled something here I want to practice, Kristi. I woke up panicked during my (jet-lagging) night thinking my first response could be condescending. Compelling is probably a better word than “charming.” Your authenticity is compelling. I want to be like that. Still love the poets in the Acts passage. =)

        1. Kristi February 20, 2014

          No worries about your word choice.  The Father is showing me that the things He does my life aren’t just for me.  I learn and grow from what others share too.  We should share what may be helpful to others along the way. It often takes others to “help us connect our feelings with truth.”

  4. Sally Todd February 20, 2014

    Purpose beyond the place I find myself, the people whom I have failed and who fail me, a role beyond what  I do/have done.  Oh how I cling to my only secure place where the doing,  both the good and the bad have no bearing on the love I know from my God who calls me His beloved.  What great relief to let go of  thin and transient aspirations limited by my human capacities.  I am gratefully a member of His family where brokenness is redeemed. In all the places and relationships and positions, there is only one constant for me that sustains vision and purpose…I  am His.

  5. Kimberly Todd February 20, 2014

    This is really beautiful, particularly the piece about the “relief in letting go of thin and transient aspirations limited by human capacity.” Amen.

    1. Morielle February 21, 2014

      Yes, yes!  Sally. That is quite a sentence. Thin and transient aspirations…. Yes, indeed, they are. And yet they seem so powerful at times. I feel consumed by them, chased down, unable escape. It seems each time one is quenched, another pops up. The only refuge, it seems, is my Lord Himself. Only when with His help I am able to pry open my fingers that cling so desperately to my life, and watch it slip away for a moment. Only then am I free! Free to see those forces that felt so powerful for what they are: thin and transient aspirations. They’re laughable. (in love with Psalm 2 right now…)

      1. Kimberly Todd February 21, 2014

        Fantastic passage to inform these thoughts on aspiration. That will be my mediation during chores this morning. Thanks.

        1. Kimberly Todd February 21, 2014

          *meditation.

  6. Sally Todd February 24, 2014

    thanks Morielle…Psalm 2.  Loved the Message rendition of vs 4:  Heaven-throned God breaks out laughing. We have to be really amusing at times.  I feel His affection in it…only our obstinate persistence in “going our own way”  when He calls us back would bring His strong hand.  Such a picture of a loving parent.

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