Hearing the word “undone” probably evokes an image of an unbuttoned button or an undercooked cake.
But neither of these even gets close to the meaning of the word. At least not how I think of it.
“Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts” (KJV).Other translations use the word “ruined” instead of “undone.”
The original Hebrew can be rendered “to be dumb or silent, to fail or perish, to be destroyed, cease, be cut down (off), destroy, be brought to silence, be undone, utterly” (BlueLetterBible.com).
The American Heritage Dictionary defines “undone” as “to reverse or erase, annul, to untie, disassemble, to cause the ruin or downfall of, to throw into confusion; unsettle, to unravel.”
Now we’re getting to it.
Ground control, we’ve got a problem
Another word akin to “undone” is “unmoored.”
Imagine an astronaut doing a spacewalk and his lifeline comes disconnected. He goes off into the blackness of space -- unmoored -- as the spacecraft he had been attached to goes off in a different direction.
Or, imagine, being adrift, alone, in the middle of the ocean, nothing but you and water for miles.
I’ve gone through experiences where I felt disassembled, unraveled, utterly undone. As if my life, my beliefs, my sense of self was taken apart and tossed on the floor in complete disarray.
They weren’t fun times. But such times reveal new meaning to the idea of picking up the pieces of one’s life.
These were times when someone I cared deeply about turned their backs and walked away.
Or when that person not only walked away but took someone especially dear to me with them, keeping them away from me as well.
Or when a job I loved and thought I’d retire from ended abruptly through no fault of my own.
Or when a parent, a very close friend, or other special relative died unexpectedly.
Or when someone I trusted, suddenly and for no clear reason, turned on me and disparaged me to others.
In these moments I felt unmoored and undone utterly.
A million little pieces & counting
A couple of times, the impact was so intense and thoroughgoing I felt as if everything I thought I knew and believed to be true was being relentlessly dissembled, like a building being taken apart brick by brick, piece by piece.
In every situation, recovery came.
Little by little the pieces came back together. And the result has been a stronger more firm foundation.
“Hang in there” isn’t advice just for kittens
I don’t mean to be trivial. But in every one of the toughest, most despairing and seemingly hopeless times I’ve endured, I weakly, stubbornly, and helplessly leaned on God.
There was no neat formula. No clear steps. In fact, each time was a little different and probably pretty ugly and messy to watch.
Painfully and clumsily, each time, I learned and relearned the meaning of “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9, HCSB).
I guess it’s easy to lay down one’s life when someone else lays it down for you!
I’m not sure why I’m writing this other than the word “undone” came up recently and it stuck in my head and heart. I’m assuming the Holy Spirit is behind this and that someone reading this needs it.
Whoever you are, whatever you’re enduring, know this: Hard times end, eventually. God’s grace is sufficient, endlessly.
Of the hard situations I’ve endured, the effects of some continue. And because of this, there is ongoing hurt. Hurt that I take to the Lord every day and say, “Please hold this for me.”
And He does. He’s faithful and loving like that.
Because God cares I can go on. I “have a life.” And in this life, despite the pain that lingers, there is love, joy, hope, and a future.
During one really bad time, someone said a seemingly trite and stupid thing to me. They shared that lame adage about when you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot it in and hang on.
But they went further saying, “Today, you feel as if you can’t go on. Remember this moment six months from now.”
It was more than six months later that their words suddenly came back to me. I had gone on! I was going on! My life, as crappy as it felt then, was much better now!
Looking back makes going forward easier
Now, recalling those impossibly hard times, knowing that I survived, gives me strength when new hard times show up.
I know that because God was faithful then, He’ll be faithful today, and tomorrow, too.
Paul reminds us, “He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you will be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; you were called by Him into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:1-9, HSCB).
And also, “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, HSCB).
Being a Christian does not mean life will be without challenges. God gave you and me and everyone around us free will. Sometimes the way we use that free will is stupid, selfish, and hurtful. Which sucks for all involved.
But through it all, God is there. He’s got my back and He’s got yours.
Lean in, hang on, press through
A former pastor who walked with me through one hard episode, every time he saw me would encourage me with two simple words: “Lean in.”
While some run away from God or push Him away when they’re hurting, the better response is to get closer to Him. Lean in. Get tight. And hang onto Him for dear life.
In each instance where I felt undone and unmoored, the reality above the emotional turmoil was that God had me in His hand.
That’s true for you, too. Feelings lie. God is always true.
If you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. No matter how painful and messy life gets, lean in.
And six months from now, let me know how you’re doing.
Have you ever felt “undone” or “unmoored”? How did you get through it? What was helpful? What was unhelpful? When did you realize you’d survived and were moving on? What did you learn? Have you been able to help others as a result of your struggles? Did you faith get stronger? Please share your thoughts in the comments!
Just for fun, this old song came to mind as I was working on this post: