Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gloriously Ruined

IMG_3329 Recently I heard a speaker use this phrase when giving a lecture on the role the global church must play in caring for the 143 million orphans world wide.  We need to go to the last the lost and the least and become gloriously ruined. 

After being in Ukraine for over 4 years, hearing the stories of brokenness and abandonment have become all too common and sometimes numbing.IMG_3724   You ask kids living in an orphanage a few basic questions about themselves and before you know it they are divulging years of pain they have experienced.  Except often they list off such facts as “My mom is an alcoholic and my dad is in prison” with as much ease as if they were telling you that the sky is blue.  Because that is their reality. That is their normal.  That is what breaks my heart.  Sometimes I don’t like to ask the questions- because I don’t want to hear the answers—I don’t want to have to care.  Not knowing and not caring is a much easier place to remain I have to say.  It is safer.

But who ever said that following Jesus was safe?

Through the questions I’ve dared to ask and through hearing their answers, I have become gloriously ruined- completely, utterly and yet gloriously ruined.  I can’t close my eyes to what I have seen. Jesus has ruined me with their stories, he has ruined me with their pain—and strangely it is a glorious place to find myself. It is a reminder that in and of myself I am hopeless and that Jesus is the only one who can bring restoration. 

15-year-old Tanya reminded me of this at the camp we did last week.

I started out asking Tanya the basic questions- “what do you like to study in school?”- “how many siblings do you have?”- and then the bigger question- “What is your biggest dream?”  She answered me quite simply- “ My dream is to have a happy life.” I asked her if she was happy now and through tears she shook her head no—that this isn’t where she wanted to be. She IMG_2994said she would give anything to go home to her alcoholic mother- just so she could help her and help her turn towards the Lord.   Looking at Tanya I could see this deep sorrow in her soul – a sorrow for her lost childhood and for the brokenness of her family, a sorrow for having to be a mother to her 9 year-old brother, when she herself is just 15.   And yet the perplexing thing about Tanya is that she has the most joyful eyes I've ever seen.  Her pain and sorrow are so deep- and yet somehow she keeps on smiling- she keeps hoping that somehow her future can be better than her past.  Tanya gave her life to Jesus a couple years ago after being discipled by a Christian woman, and the faith of this young girl on the verge of adulthood amazed me.  I told Tanya that for being a girl who had lived through so much difficulty in her young life it was amazing to see the resilient and sweet spirit that she had. I told her it was a gift from God. I told her that her smile was a blessing from God—that she should rejoice because of the joy God had given her. I told her she had given me hope.  

IMG_3766I’ve seen people with 10 times the amount of earthly possessions and opportunity, and yet not nearly the joy that Tanya somehow managed to possess.   Tanya taught me something about suffering well.  She is a girl who knows real pain and yet somehow she is choosing joy.  

“And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:2-5

These kids amaze me.  They break my heart and they amaze me. Their stories have made my life gloriously ruined and I for one am not the same person I was 4 years ago.


Durr Family said...

Hearing stories like Tonya's is both humbling and compelling. Thanks for tugging at my heart strings this morning.

Kari said...

We are all so excited about the kids coming on Tues! We were just talking about it in the car today and Joshua was telling about his train ride and plane ride last year. Praying that many people will be gloriously ruined for these kids during their 3 week stay in CO.

Natasha said...

Hello beautiful! You've been on my mind for the last few weeks - praying for you!
It's so hard to hear their stories; and you're so right - it made me so sad when the kids were telling us what happened to their parents, without a blink of an eye. There were only a couple that seemed sad about it. But I know that deep down inside, they're so hurt!
Oksana actually reminds me of Tanya - there is so much deep within her that we still don't know; but on the outside, she smiles most of the time. Absolutely amazing!
Love you, sis. Natasha

Heidi and Felix said...

Karen, thanks for sharing your story. My favorite song is "Sweetly Broken", for exactly the same reasons you talked about.

And...Ruslan. We were excited, happy and sad to see his photo. Glad to know where he is living now. What a sweetheart. Hope you got to spend some time with him.

Love you!