"Ruin is the road to transformation." —Elizabeth Gilbert
Do we park at the point of our pain? Or do we try again? When Larry Bird's father committed suicide, he was lost. He tried college but couldn't deal with it, so he went back home and became a garbage collector. When Oprah Winfrey was sexually assaulted at age 10 and pregnant at 14, losing the child shortly after birth, the pain and hopelessness were overwhelming.
I know a man who had done all he could to get his son to stop taking drugs. Finally, he had to let him hit bottom. He was right. The bottom is a great place to stage a comeback. I believe that God allows us to hit rock bottom to show us He's the Rock at the bottom. When I was paralyzed in an accident, not knowing if it was permanent, I too hit bottom, and the Rock was there.
This quote is from a book Elizabeth Gilbert wrote more than a decade ago, Eat, Pray, Love. She had just ended her failed marriage, sunk into a deep depression and, suffering from suicidal thoughts, she searched for a way out. Somehow, she wrangled a deal with a publishing company that allowed her to get out of the country, away from her problems, with the promise she would produce a book.
The book was a hit.
I learned to walk again.
Larry Bird became one of the most famous basketball players of all time,
and Oprah? Well you know.
Mostly, says philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, "It is loss which teaches us about the worth of things." My friend's son finally realized the value of the life he was throwing away. But too many people are unwilling to fight for the transformed life. Jesus said He came that we might enjoy life and have it to the full. That is the promise, but don't think for a minute it doesn't take work. Sometimes, like Gilbert, Bird, and Winfrey, we have to take the wheel, put the car in gear, and move out of our mess to make it happen.
Many of the people we work with, coming out of years in prisons and jails, have experienced complete ruin. Without help, their chances of transformation to a normal life are slim to nil. But God is the Rock at the bottom for them too, and just as I needed help to learn to walk again, and my friend's son needed help to get off drugs, they know they need help and we're here to give it to them. Transformation is not a solo act, and those who help others in their quest for a better future, find it is a symbiotic relationship, a circular progression of sowing and reaping for both parties.
The Tao Te Ching, was written in 400 BC and it opens with the words: "Life is difficult." More than 2600 years later, life is still difficult, but we are not on earth to stand still, or park at the point of our pain. We are here to change and excel, and when you help other people to do the same, one day you will be shocked to realize it was they who transformed you.