“How could I have lived a life of gratitude without embracing the fearsome truth that my earthly path will always be paved with pain? To join Christ in His suffering is to recognize that our brokenness, in so much as it connects us to the brokenness of him, is a gift. A catalyst for gratitude. Cracked blessings. Which lead to communion with Him.”
– Ann Voskamp
I’m still processing this past week. It seems as though it’s one of those weeks where things are getting caught in my heart. They need to sit and marinate. Maybe to penetrate some calloused pieces and maybe to break the places that need to be broken.
I think of a friend I had in high school. She had to get her feet broken so that the bones could be lined up properly and reset. The doctors broke her feet, which seemed perfectly fine on the outside, but they weren’t. The doctors could see a deeper, internal issue. An issue that could potentially cause her to be handicapped in the future or require a more intense surgery.
Yeah. That right there. I believe God allows that same kind of resetting to happen to our hearts. Over and over and over again. And it’s healthy.
I went to a women’s gathering this past week. It has been a long time since I have gathered with a large group of Christian women. This used to be one of my heart’s greatest desires – being with strong Christian women. But I’ve since realized after my own meltdown last fall, that there really is no such thing as a strong Christian woman. You either follow Jesus or you don’t. It’s never in our strength where Jesus is found – it’s in our weakness … in our brokenness. To say that a woman is a ‘strong’ Christian woman is to say that she is better … higher … understands more … gets it…. makes me want to be more like her. But I don’t want to be more like her. I want to be more like Jesus.
There’s my tangent.
So, this women’s gathering. I went to support a friend who was sharing a piece of her story. This friend was actually at one point, one of my best friends. Until we had a terrible fall out in 2015.
We reconciled last winter but I hadn’t seen her in over a year and a half.
I entered the home where the gathering was taking place. Women were congregating around the house. There was a crowded area near the kitchen that I dare not try to enter. I saw a chair in the corner and claimed it quickly.
As the evening got started, the crowd cleared. The hostess started to address the group and there across the room – was my beautiful, once, best friend.
Seeing her face was normal. I felt as though we had not missed a beat. She shared her story. Although a story of broken pieces, it was filled with such beauty. Such surrender and grace.
At the end of her story, the hostess opened up the floor for questions. Some people asked my friend questions but others took the opportunity to share a little about their own story. Their own brokenness. I had never seen or experienced anything like it. People weren’t quoting scripture or one-upping each other with their ‘christianese’. They were just there – pouring out the shattered pieces of their hearts – yet claiming hope and grace and freedom.
The room fell quiet and I spoke up.
“Can I just say – I am the pharisee on the other side of the brokenness of *friend’s* story. I was there during her hard time. I was there when she started to ‘back slide’. It’s not who I had known previously. I didn’t know how to handle the messiness. It was as if the broken pieces might get on me. So I rebuked her. I judged her. I was frustrated with her. But might I add, that I just didn’t know. I was completely unaware that what I was doing to her was actually hurting her more. Until about a year later when God started opening my own eyes to my own brokenness. The Lord told me that he needed me to stop performing. He could do more with me where I was then where I thought I needed to be. God was searching for the real me. I just didn’t know I wasn’t revealing the real me.
I had never let the real me come forward. Because since my childhood I have been masking me with busyness. I was taught that love comes from performance so if I’m not performing who will love me? And that’s exactly where God wanted me. To let me know that we weren’t moving forward if I couldn’t sit in His love and grace long enough to receive it and believe it.
*Friend* was experiencing freedom there in the midst of her shitty season because she was allowing herself to be broken. I was the one in bondage. I just didn’t know.”
Every woman in that room was turned around and looking at me with tears in their eyes. We were all experiencing reconciliation and forgiveness in real time.
*Friend* speaks out and says, “This is the first time I’ve seen her in over a year.”
The room gasps with ‘What!?!’, ‘Wow!’, ‘Oh my gosh!’ and teary eyes.
It was one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever experienced.
Me and *friend* hugged and chatted briefly afterwards and went on our way.
I’m learning, you guys. I’m not good at relationships with females. I let people get only so close and then when things get sticky, I retreat with a quickness.
This season of life is busy … and not in a bad busy kinda way. My husband and I both feel that this is the season that God has led us into. We commute quite a distance for work, we have 2 kids – one who is still overcoming developmental delays and one in elementary school. We are trying to cultivate our own relationship as husband and wife, be with our children, invest into our health and stay close in relationship with Christ. There’s just not much time for anything else without me losing my sanity.
This is the season we’re in.
Yet I have 2 friends who have reached out to me this past week to let me know they miss me and they’ll be on standby for whenever I’m ready.
I don’t know how to process friendship like this.
Honestly, it leaves me confused.
To know that people do love me even if I can’t give to them. They love me just because. They’ve never loved me because they wanted something from me. But just because I’m me.
I’m not going to lie. That’s foreign to me. I seriously don’t even know how to process that kind of love from females.
And that’s where God reveals another layer of brokenness in me.
Except now I don’t feel the need to deny it or run from it. I just sit there in the pain of it. I can’t make myself understand. Understanding will only come from sitting in the pain – and I honestly might not ever understand. That’s okay.
I don’t know how to let people love me in my brokenness because I don’t know how to love others in theirs. Frankly, it gets on my nerves when people have a bunch of drama and confusion in their lives. I struggle to show grace because I’m a fixer. A fixer has the answers and if you’d just listen to my answers your life would be better and I’d be able to tolerate you better.
Except there is just one problem. How many of us know that we never grow by someone else giving us the answers for our lives? We grow by experience and struggle and brokenness and grace!
I see these huge gaping holes in my heart. I see them there. I have no answers for myself. Yet, I’m encouraged because I know that God makes beautiful things out of brokenness. I also know He wants us in community. Therefore, I know that He is faithful to heal me and continuously teach me how to love and receive love in the midsts of brokenness.
I’ve started jogging in the mornings before work. It’s been a time of reflection as a I run. The other morning I was listening to the book of Matthew, chapter 16. I was struck while listening to these verses:
21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
I stopped running.
The Holy Spirit had pulled back another layer of Truth. I had always used “get behind me, Satan” in the context of an attack. When hard times were coming against me or I was frustrated I would yell out, “Get behind me, Satan!”
But this time I saw something new.
Jesus said “get behind me, Satan”, not because he was enduring hardship but because Peter had told him he would NOT endure hardship.
His friend was telling him it was all good. Bad things would not happen to him.
Jesus responded with, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Jesus knew He would suffer.
Freedom comes through the brokenness, you guys.
Yes. Yes. We’re free. We were set free when Jesus died for us. However, Jesus had to be broken in order for freedom to come. So why would it be any different for us. We have freedom through Christ’s death but we don’t walk in that freedom. We don’t experience that freedom.
If Jesus had to be broken in order for freedom to come – maybe, just maybe, we have to embrace our brokenness to really live in the freedom that Christ died for?
I don’t know about you – but that’s where every ounce of my freedom has ever been discovered.
In the broken place.
When I embrace my weakness.
When the power of Christ is made perfect in my weakness.
When I stop striving and rest in Him.
There. That’s where freedom exists for me. And in that position is where I find the courage to step into that freedom and live from an angle of liberty.
In the brokenness.
A beautiful, grace-filled place.
Keep running, sisters.