Essays On War

Natalka Marynchak. An Unexpected Discovery: I Am a Beloved Child of God

An Unexpected Discovery: I Am a Beloved Child of God

So do not fear, for I am with you; … do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Once I was struck by this phrase of a young eyebrow stylist who was absolutely and one hundred percent sure that she was God’s FAVORITE child.

And then, very clumsily and gradually, I began to cautiously and gradually try these letters on for size. Although it came out rough and unrefined initially, with time and practice, it gradually improved. Why am I writing about being God’s „favorite“ during the war? Because it turned out that this supported my world in the first uncertain and scary days for me in Kharkiv and what keeps me going still.

As you slowly awaken from your slumber, the harsh reality of your surroundings begins to set in. The sound of explosions and the sight of enemy planes flying overhead bring a stark realization that something catastrophic is happening beyond the confines of your yard.It was a moment of awakening to the stark reality that the nearest shelter was at least five hundred meters away, and there was no cellar in your yard. However, being the favorite child, you clung to the hope that everything would work out, and it did.

Following this realization, the days seem to fall into place like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Each day, you simply do everything that is within your power, everything you can, and hold onto the hope that the next day will come.

After 300 days or so, the events of the past are almost forgotten. What’s truly important is the day in which you’re alive and actively creating something.

Throughout that time, I only had to seek shelter once, when rockets were flying over the city center and I happened to be in a café; I had to descend to the shelter along with everyone else. The feeling of collective fear was so intense that I couldn’t bear it and decided to leave. I muttered to my friend, „Let these people sit with their sirens. I need to pick up my father from the university.“

I am a beloved child, moving swiftly as I dart between raindrops. My volunteer group, which seems to have come into being by magic and fulfills my every desire, is based at the Church of John the Baptist. My father, Viktor Marynchak, serves as the rector there.

I stood amid the newly constructed temple section, surrounded by multiple boxes and lamenting the lack of potatoes for refugees. However, the temple seemed to have heeded my every word, because within a week, a truckload of potatoes arrived. As someone whispered, „This is for you, my child,“ I felt a sense of gratification, knowing that my efforts helped those in need.

As I nod and express my gratitude to those who delivered the potatoes, I vocalize my concerns to someone about the lack of activities for the children. Ironically, within two days, I was surrounded by packages filled with children’s goods.

It can be challenging to be a beloved child as the gifts pour in by the hundreds of kilograms, and you have little say when it comes to taking a break. The One who holds you dear guides you in how to take care of yourself, especially during wartime. Neglecting self-care could mean leaving a little girl in Donetsk or a lonely grandmother without the aid they desperately need. Therefore, beloved child of God, don’t simply move boxes; allow yourself time to inhale and exhale.

During the summer, when Uragan rockets were shot down near my church, the blast wave unlocked a five-hundred-kilogram door that had been bolted shut. Amidst the chaos, a magical pendulum seemed to whisper in my ear, reassuring me that I was still God’s beloved child.

Without hesitation, I rushed out of my room, taking mental note of the number of people in the church building and courtyard as well as the number of turnstiles. Remarkably, everyone was unscathed, despite the hundreds of kilograms of shattered glass that had been propelled away from the church, along with the frames. Those inside had been shielded by winter carpets that still covered the windows.

It can be challenging to grasp that you are God’s chosen one, but it is not impossible. Every journey requires time. Perhaps your car breaks down, but be mindful that it happens on the way to the repair shop rather than while you are en route to help the many single grandmothers who rely on you. You may also find yourself running behind schedule due to a flat tire or a forgotten item, only to discover that the delay allowed you to avoid a traffic jam caused by heavy machinery on the road.

Sometimes, you might be delivering boxes of syringes and medical supplies to a children’s hospital when they send you a message of gratitude and a special request for a unicorn tail string. Although you promise to try and find it, they surprise you by letting you know that they have already found the elusive item tucked away at the bottom of the box. As you exhale, tears welling up in your eyes, you come to realize that there are things you don’t understand, but in some inexplicable way, you do. And once again, the resounding echo of the explosion reminds you that you are God’s beloved child.

As a beloved child of God, you may have a stack of unpublished posts in which pain, resentment, and indignation overpower any gratitude, admiration, or wonder for the world. These posts remain unpublished precisely because of gratitude, admiration, and wonder. Writing allows you to expose your multifaceted nature, acknowledge yourself, and make well-balanced decisions, always choosing the side of the scale that embodies more beauty, regardless of how challenging and unendurable that „beautiful“ thing may be.

However, being a beloved child of God also means acknowledging the daily reality of waking up to a new day with the strength and resources to help those who have woken up in despair, powerlessness, and hunger. Despite any personal struggles, you have gasoline in your tank, are alive, and can assist others in need.

“Natalka, where was your god when the war started? Where was he looking when children were being killed?”

“He was next to us, crying alongside us in despair, but he never deprived us of hope.”

Being a beloved child means sitting on a pseudo day off and recognizing that volunteering is like an unshakeable condition that somehow makes its presence known. Even when you feel like you „didn’t do anything,“ you have made an impact. Take a moment to reflect and acknowledge this. Before you know it, your contributions have reached Vovchansk, sick immigrant children have been cared for at the hospital, and countless other things that you’re not even aware of have happened right here and now.

Being a beloved child means recognizing that we are all children of God. Regardless of our personal beliefs, we are all beloved children whose lives deserve to be celebrated and even spoken of poetically. This remains true even in the most challenging of times, such as during a war.

The children of war had children

they gave birth to children of war

the first children did not want these third children to see dark dreams

the first wanted silence

the second children never thought of being stronger than concrete

others built cities

lived life

covered their birth injuries

so that the third children do not tremble in their sleep

the third were born both under a quiet and under a sky that burns and slashes

first and second and third

crying and smiling

absorb their identity

understand the deep faith of their people

realize their majesty

the first and second children are like ants

everyone pushes their own grain of sand

so that the third would no longer be afraid

look at the sky

through the palms

in a hole

Heaven bows down to earth

and kisses each of his children

18.03.2022, Kharkiv

The play-dialogue between poetry and musical improvisation was built upon the thesis that each individual possesses traits from being a first, second, or third child. While this can be challenging, it is also a treasure, as it teaches us the crucial lesson of living in the present moment, holding onto our loved ones, and not losing hope, no matter what challenges we face. Ultimately, our ability to believe in ourselves and our connection to a higher power allows us to endure, knowing that we are all beloved children of God.

Advancing culture through literature, plays, and performances is an important goal to pursue in the present moment; taking care of those in need and requiring our help is, too; donating to the army and having unwavering faith in the strength of our Armed Forces is crucial.

Translated by Yulia Lyubka and Kate Tsurkan