Brokenness. When you think of brokenness in your own life, in your own heart, what do you think of? What physical pain or life difficulties or emotional hurt come to mind?
I think one of the most important truths I came away with after reading The Broken Way is that there is hope in our brokennness. Now, as a believer I know Jesus is my hope in all situations for all of life. But as much as I know that to be true, as much as the Lord has proven Himself to me, when I am feeling so broken within I lose sight of that hope.
I realized, as I read The Broken Way, how much we as humans, and specifically me as an individual, take to hiding our brokenness from others. It is in hiding our brokenness that we separate ourselves. This keeps us feeling very alone and very divided.
I know when I went through a very deep depression years ago I only wanted to hide, to be alone. I locked myself in a room so I could write in my journal and cry for hours. I didn’t believe that anyone could understand what I was feeling. I shared my feelings with my counselor, and in my journal, and I told God what He needed to do. I knew He could help me if He would just answer my prayer. But He didn’t and I stayed stuck until I recognized my need to let Him be God. And even then I still stayed hidden.
There are so many things in life that crush us.
- Shame can keep us locked away, feeling so bad that we think we could never be accepted.
- Feeling misunderstood can make us pull into a shell.
- Physical health ailments can make us hide because we feel too needy and as if we are a burden.
- Grief can make us turn inward because we feel like no one can understand our pain. We feel like we can’t go on without that other person. Who could understand that? Who wants to be around someone so sad?
So we hide our tears and drown in our sadness. We want to hide our vulnerability, we don’t want to feel embarrassed. Some of us have been shamed for our tender emotions.
It is all so heavy and at times feels so hopeless. So, where does the hope come in? I can assure you, it does not come in by way of the hiding. Ann Voskamp helped me to realize more deeply the truth that the hope we all so desperately need in our brokenness comes in finding understanding, acceptance, and connection right there in the midst of our brokenness. And, all I can say is, that seems way too scary. It is scary because it means hope can only begin when we become willing to be vulnerable. Well, I am not good at being vulnerable in the midst of brokenness, but it seems that it truly is the only way to find hope.
It is the only way to find hope because it is in the sharing of brokenness that Jesus showed us the reality of hope in Him. Jesus came to this earth, Immanuel, God with us. He became man and lived life here on earth. He experienced life with all of the pain and hurts that we experience and more. He died on the cross to give those who believe in Him eternal life and to take away our sins. It is because He knows our pain and our neediness that we can find hope.
Our hope comes in taking the reality of our broken selves to Creator God, who knows us better than we know ourselves, and in desperate dependence, telling Him we need Him to help us.
When I was going through my depression, that is not what I did, instead I told Him what to do. I remained stuck in my depression, I call it my “wandering in the desert” time. The Lord kept bringing me to Jeremiah 2:13 showing me how I had forsaken Him and was looking for help elsewhere. I was looking for help in my counselor more than I was seeking the Lord for help. I knew the crux of my pain and I knew what I felt I needed to “fix” it, and I told God exactly what the perfect solution would be. It was when I finally repented and asked Him to help me out of my desperate state according to His will that He began the healing process.
His healing process led me to much deeper intimacy with Him and through that He showed me how He wanted to use my pain and healing in ministry. The path He led me on was a path of learning to be more vulnerable, of connecting in the reality of my brokenness, and of learning to accept love when I felt unlovable. He helped me to learn those things as I shared and ministered to women in my church and in friendships. I truly did find hope in my brokenness because the Lord used my brokenness to touch others with His love, and to satisfy the neediness of others hearts. I continue to feel used by Him in this.
So, you may be wondering why I said Ann’s book had such a profound effect on me. I guess, in some ways I wonder that too, but, what I am realizing is that, there is more brokenness deep inside. It is from there, in that broken place, that I find myself going back to my old “hiding” ways of self-protection.
So, in reading The Broken Way, I was brought face-to-face with my brokenness, and the reality of my self-protection in my self-sufficiency. The pain of it hit me hard. It is this realization of more brokenness in me that led me to see that I need to reach out to God in childlike dependence and tell Him of my need for Him right where I am now. You see, when we are distant from our brokenness, it is way too easy to return to that place of self-sufficiency, feeling like you don’t need anyone, and that you especially don’t need to be vulnerable.
I am living in the awareness of my brokenness and trying hard to be openly dependent on the Lord. I want very much to be transparent with my brokenness and my need for the Lord because I know there is healing in that and more than that, I know there is hope.
We are not the only ones in our families, in our group of friends, or in our church families who are broken, yet we often live as if we are. I know from past experience and now again in my current attempt at authenticity that:
- There is hope in the love we find in connecting in the midst of our brokenness.
- There is hope in the empathy we share.
- There is hope in joining together in vulnerability.
- There is hope in seeing each other as more like us than different from us.
The healing comes in the hope we find in loving each other. There is healing in not running and hiding in fear of our brokenness, but rather acknowledging our dependence on the Lord and those He so lovingly put in our lives. (Just repeating that to myself helps me so much.)
The Broken Way led me to see my brokenness, my neediness, and although it brought tears and pain, it has shown me the way to hope in the midst of personal brokenness.
The Lord can use our individual brokenness to bring about hope through the bonds of love and connection, if and when we give it to Him fully depending on Him.
Take your brokenness to Him and let Him show you the way He has of growing you in it and through it, and then using you in amazing ways. He will satisfy your heart. He will give you new hope.