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On your ruined life (I)

Summary

Francis Spufford explains how hitting the rocks is survivable – and even fortunate.

Summary

Francis Spufford explains how hitting the rocks is survivable – and even fortunate.

Transcript

Christianity tells the person whose life is in ruins, first of all, that it’s not that surprising. That it does not mean that you are a uniquely wicked person who has screwed up in a way that no one has ever done before in the history of the world – which is often how people who are accusing themselves feel, because our culture is not always very good, sometimes, at preparing people for the rubbish their own motives may lead them towards.

But Christianity says: you’re not that unusual. We’ve been dealing with this stuff for a long time. And you’re also not alone, that there is a community of other fallible people who at one point or another have hit the rocks and have discovered it’s survivable. In the first place, in a very ordinary way, it’s survivable because actually your own integrity as a human being does not depend on being perfect – that you find you’re still there after you’ve hit the rocks, after you are in ruins.

But it also says that there is a chance for mending, there is a chance for your life – which at this point seems to be capable of no order whatsoever – can be put back into order, and (even though you won’t believe this now, but you may later) order which makes you think that the smash you put yourself through was even kind of lucky. Not because it was right to hurt yourself and other people, but simply because it might put you in a place afterwards where (though you won’t believe this now) you’re stronger, and kinder, and less surprised by the range of human behaviour.