Brokenness is Real

…and God is for the broken.

. . . . . .

This was today’s message at church. It seems like a difficult thing to admit, and it is. It is hard to acknowledge that just because we are Christian doesn’t mean life will be perfect or all happiness. It can be even more difficult to believe God is for the broken, especially when we experience brokenness and it feels like God is silent.

The message today was based on Luke 7:11-17—the funeral of a widow’s only child. The pastor gave 3 points that really struck me. (So far, it seems this church has some powerful and meaningful messages for me. Maybe that is God working…)

The first: sometimes life is hard. Like I said, just because we are Christian does not mean life will not be hard. Sometimes our brokenness comes from choices we have made, and sometimes it isn’t our fault at all. We all sometimes walk away from the alignment of God, trying to make choices we think would be better for us or others.

Just this made me realize that my brokenness is a mixture of the choices I made, choices I thought would be better for me and my family, and the choices he has made. As such, I can only take responsibility for my portion of it all. And I do. I acknowledge that perhaps it was not what God had designed for me, perhaps it was out of His will.

But brokenness is not a punishment. And I have spent all this time feeling like it is, feeling like what I am going through is God punishing me for being so stupid. Really, I am punishing myself. I realize now I can only do that for so long.

The second point was that Jesus hurts when we feel brokenness. This seems hard to wrap my head around, but the truth is He loves us, so of course He hurts for us. Luke 7:13 says “His heart went out to her…” He felt genuine compassion for her, He felt for her in the pain she was experiencing.

The third, and final, point was this: Jesus can overcome the pain of our circumstances. In the story in Luke 7, Jesus raises the son. That in itself is a pretty powerful illustration.

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. . . . . .

The pastor chose to read out some stories of brokenness from church team members. The stories were of deep brokenness, and I could feel the pain these people have suffered. Although their names were, of course, not mentioned, I couldn’t help but admire their bravery to not only admit their brokenness but to share it. That’s when I realized something.

I am afraid to admit and share my brokenness to others.

Notice I say “to others.” I willfully admit to myself I am broken—I know it, I feel it every day—but I am afraid to express it to others, even within a church. And the reason is because I have been burned. I am afraid to share because I am afraid of a lack of support. I am afraid of people trying to tell me what to do, of unwanted advice. I am afraid of being told I am being stupid or that I should just move on. I am afraid of judgement. All because it has happened to me before (at least, that is my perception).

And as I came to this realization, I also saw something else: that this brokenness had been coming for some time. The episodes I can now point out as having been depressive or anxious episodes; the feelings of worthlessness, because I felt like he was doing something so much better than me, that I wasn’t making a difference and he was; the loneliness, even when I wasn’t physically alone…I can see now it all pointed to brokenness in me, and it was inevitable for that brokenness to make an outward appearance.

While brokenness isn’t God’s punishment, I want to think He will use it to show me something, to teach me.

I know now I wasn’t supposed to take that job. Yet, God used that experience to point me back in the direction I had veered from. I know I made a mistake, but I think He is providing me an opportunity to take a step back to have a chance to examine my faults and my mistakes and decide who I want and need to be.

. . . . . .

I’ve decided not to give in. I know where my heart is. I know how I feel.

Recently, it feels like God has been silent, but maybe that’s because I’ve refused to open my Bible and pray and admit my brokenness. I can’t expect Him to speak to me if I’m not willing to speak to Him and open up.

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The only way to combat brokenness is to seek God, is to pray. It doesn’t guarantee that life will be perfect. It doesn’t mean that, poof, suddenly all the problems will disappear. What it does mean, though, is I acknowledge that God is on my side and has compassion for me in my brokenness.

I am broken. But I won’t give up.

Broken Together

How I wish we could go back to simpler times
Before all our scars and all our secrets were in the light
Now on this hallowed ground, we’ve drawn the battle lines
Will we make it through the night?

It’s going to take much more than promises this time
Only God can change our minds

Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete
Could we just be broken together
If you can bring your shattered dreams and I’ll bring mine
Could healing still be spoken and save us
The only way we’ll last forever is broken together

 – “Broken Together” by Casting Crowns

. . . . . .

I haven’t listened to this song in months. I don’t feel strong enough to. I break into a flood of tears each time, and I can feel my heart re-break with every line. Yet it has been circling through my head since Bible study last night.

We walked through and discussed the scripture from Sunday’s service: Jeremiah 29:4-13. I’ve already walked through the highlights of that message and what stuck out to me. But this small group allowed me to go deeper and to ask questions and share insight with others, something I’ve missed out on not having a church family. As we finished up the study, a question was asked about exile, since the Israelites were in exile in Jeremiah. Honestly, I don’t remember the exact question, but I remember thinking I’m in exile.

This seems both literal and figurative. I’m quite literally separated from my husband—while I lack the paperwork (which I have chosen to feel is a “good” thing), we are not speaking. At the same time, I also feel like this is the only way God could get through to me. If it weren’t for this situation, I wouldn’t have, as my therapist put it, taken a look to see “is what I’m doing working?” I would continue to act the same—demanding plans and timelines, making decisions for the both of us simply because I process quicker, never pausing in my view of adulthood. I wouldn’t be writing as I am, joining writing groups and letting my skills and passion flourish. I may never have even tried to draw near to God the way I am trying now.

I am now conscious of how me-oriented some of my decisions were. I was so desperate to prove myself in a world I didn’t feel valued me that I let what was truly important slip away. I pray every day I get a chance to make things better.

Without a sense of exile, though, I probably never would have grown in this way. For that, I have to thank God.

. . . . . .

One of the things this church reminds us is that brokenness is real. We are all dealing with something, but community makes dealing with those things better.

Even with that knowledge, I was surprised to find that song floating around in my head. The song is about a marriage, so of course, I instantly thought of my situation—yes, we are broken, as he had expressed to me before, but we can be broken together and work through it. I still feel that way, and I still want reconciliation more than anything.

But the same can be said for community. Brokenness can be easier to manage when you have a community surrounding you, when you have others who do not judge you but support you and honestly and powerfully pray for and with you.

I don’t know if that song suddenly coming to mind was God speaking to me. If it was, I wish the message of what I can and should do would be clearer; I wish He could just tell me what will happen. I would like to think, though, that it was Him, that He was telling me something. And there’s a part of me that thinks it was because as I climbed back into my car and turned the ignition, I took a breath, said out loud “it’s going to be okay,” and felt a small sense of calm.

. . . . . .

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the Christian community in the blogging world, and even more surprised at how willing you have been to share your stories, insight, and inspiration. Like I said, community can be a great thing, showing us we are never alone.

In the spirit of community, I’d love to hear from you.

Have you experienced brokenness? How did you cope? Were you willing to admit you were broken up front, or did it take time?

Have you experienced exile? What happened? Did you learn something from it?

What can you take from Jeremiah 29?

. . . . . .

Maybe being in exile is okay if it means I am being guided and taught. Maybe, then, it’s okay to not only admit I am broken, but also continue to live in what I feel guided to do and not worry what others may think.

I am broken, but God can provide healing if I keep pushing forward.