Tag Archive: brokenness


Blessings Found in Brokenness

In my last post, I talked about my revelation that God is truly good. That sort of interrupted all my yakking about brokenness, but I think it was a timely interruption. When God asked me what I would if I stayed broken, I’d already realized that He was good. I had a confidence and trust in His willingness to care for me that absolutely helped me to consider His question with less defensiveness than I had before. Please note that I did not say “no defensiveness.” I was hardly free from it. However, I was much more willing to listen. God is not out to get us. He is good. Brokenness: my lack of perfection, my deformed limp, my pain, my weakness – it might not be the end of the world.

As a matter of fact, it isn’t. In some ways, it’s been good for me. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that God has worked good out of it for me. I could quote some Scripture (Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” with its claim that God’s “grace is sufficient” certainly leaps to mind!) to slap a coat of religious paint on, but I’d rather just tell you about what I know and am learning about living with a limp.

The funny thing is that there is some freedom in limping. I didn’t expect that. For instance, I don’t struggle as much with pride. Neither do I struggle as much with being afraid of finding pride within me. Both of those battles consumed a lot of effort. I’m a gifted individual, and the pitfall of pride correlates well with giftedness. So does the (sometimes false) accusation of pride. I used to get so tied up trying to figure out where my real problem was so I could fix it. Thing is that a lot of my pride was tied up in my “perfection” compared to other people. Having to accept my own brokenness and let God’s grace be sufficient slapped that one down hard. It’s great!

I learned more sympathy. This would be a no brainer, right? It seems like learning to accept, instead of rejecting and fleeing and shunning, my own pain would help me to be more kind to others experiencing hurt and disappointment.

The world became less black and white. One of my friends gave me an interesting tidbit about abuse survivors. After making it through a world of overly simplified values (like, kill or be killed; fight or flight; fight/flight or be thrashed; bad people or good people; it’s safe or it’s not – I’m sure you get the idea), former victims don’t know that the world is full of greys and even color. It’s not all an either/or proposition. I don’t know if that’s true of every abuse survivor, but it’s certainly something I’ve seen in myself and in my family. Where it can cause lots of trouble is in relationships. It’s a rare person who is an angel or a demon. Most folk are quite the mix, and I didn’t assess that well, not even in myself. It made me unnecessarily rigid, and I lacked grace. Enter ‘“My grace is sufficient,” right?

I am more able to live with uncertainty, which goes hand in hand with the world not seeming as black and white. The unknown is not as terrifying. Nor do I assume it to be populated only with bad things. Good things must be there, too. I have more hope.

One reason for that is I learned that brokenness is not necessarily pathetic or despicable. It’s not a disqualifier. God doesn’t hate me because I’m broken. People don’t always deal well with it, but God doesn’t have that problem. Although there frequently is pain involved, the pain is not a disqualifier, either. God still loves me even when I hurt. Brokenness is not leprosy or cause for quarantine. It is not contagious. Ain’t nobody perfect, folks. We all be broken.

I am more able to learn. Rigidity doesn’t lend itself well to the acquisition of new information, experiences, or opinions. Even when a person tries hard, rigidity greatly complicates the learning process.

I always have someplace to go. Brokenness cannot keep me from God and His provision, instruction, and comfort.

I’ve learned more patience. Please note that I do not claim to be a patient person! But I’ve had to learn some, because limping precludes getting anywhere fast.

It’s helped me to forgive. Oh, my, that’s a good one! That’s freedom! Once pride lost its grip, and I accepted that I, too, am broken, I realized that my dad and I have that in common. He’s broken, too. He took things to extremes that I have not, but that’s no reason for me to feel like I’m somehow better than him. I am not without sin. I am not perfect. Accepting that at an emotional level definitely helped free from my burning desire to start throwing rocks. Of course I was angry with my dad. I should have been. He did not treat me well, but living out my life hating his guts and everything about him was a horrible way to live, because, truthfully, I have more in common with him than brokenness. For example, writing is not my mom’s thing. It was most definitely my dad’s.

Happy Independence Day!

Getting back to brokenness, more brokenness, and Isaiah 53, I found out something interesting about Isaiah 53. I’d been told that passage was a prophecy concerning the coming of Christ. I can’t say I’d ever investigated that, so I thought maybe before I went blathering on about how it is about Christ, maybe I should check and see if that was anything more than my imagination or a belief held by a weird minority. It seems to be a pretty widely held belief in Christianity, so – whew! – all good there. What was interesting was this bit from Wikipedia: “Isaiah 53, taken from the Book of Isaiah, is the last of the four Songs of the Suffering Servant.” I like that phrase, not in a “it warms the cockles of my heart” sort of way, but as in it seems significant. It seems applicable. It seems relevant to what God has been teaching me about brokenness. I want to to think it over a bit more, but since I’m talking about Isaiah 53 now, it’s worth mentioning. Guess I better move along to Isaiah 53.

One thing that stands out immediately is that this man is going through some hell. His life is not at all easy. He’s the “man of sorrows” who is also described as “rejected,” “crushed,” “wounded,” “afflicted,” “oppressed,” and other painful adjectives. I don’t know about you, but when I think about how I want my life to be described, words like these are not on my list. They make for a hard life.

To make it even more difficult for him, “we esteemed him not.” The poor guy didn’t even get any sympathy. Nobody cared that his life was hard. I guess he just wasn’t… attractive enough. His life was hard and full of troubles. It wasn’t pretty. He wasn’t somebody other people wished to emulate. Instead, folks assumed that he was “stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” People were pretty sure that not even God liked him. The man was cursed.

And you know what? None of it was his fault. His situation, full of the bitterness of grief made more heavy by the pettiness of people, was not his fault. He “had done no violence.” He was an honest man, an innocent man. He didn’t deserve the pain he experienced, the contempt he faced, or the death he died.

And “yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him…”

What?

He’s innocent. He’s righteous. It’s well established that the ones who merit punishment (and the suffering servant sure seemed to have been punished!) are the wicked. The guilty are the ones who have earned wrath and hard things. The innocent, the righteous, the just, the downtrodden… aren’t they supposed to be exalted, glorified, comforted, and otherwise cared for by the God Who is their provider and defender?

What’s going on here? Why is this okay or desirable? “It’s not fair,” would be what my emotions like to indignantly scream when I hear about situations where my sense of fair play gets offended. This would definitely be one of them. Why, God? Why is this okay?

Tell you one thing. Why is it all about me? Why do I read something like this and get offended? Why is my sense of fair play so important? Why do I instinctively, without the least thought, make it all about me and my values?

Until next time!

No Escape from Brokenness??

Previously I’d talked about my dissatisfaction with my own brokenness, and I left off at a point where God asked me to consider the “what if” of limping for the rest of my life. It was a profound question. What I wanted was out.  I wanted to escape the pain and struggle in my life. I wanted away from my problems, the things that I believed were to blame for my pain and anguish. I just didn’t want to hurt any more. I believed God could do all that for me. He healed that lady who bled for 12 years, right? Blind folks were seeing, dead people were living, and all kinds of crazy stuff happened. Why not me? Why couldn’t I have a similar miracle, a new life? What the heck was God doing, asking me an awful question like that?

By that time, I knew Him better than when I was a suspiciously minded teenager. I actually knew that love was worthwhile and believed Him to be good and to have my best interests in mind, so I didn’t throw a drink in His face and tell Him where to go. Instead, I thought about what He was saying. While I still upset about the question, at this point, I was also curious. It’s a good thing that I’m not a cat, and that God loves me. I’ve noticed that He frequently catches me by pricking my curiosity.

First off, He wasn’t telling me, “No way, Jose.” It was not a denial of my request. It was important for me to realize that. I’m sure I’d have thrown a more impressive temper tantrum, otherwise.

So He’s good, and He’s looking out for me, and He works things out for those who love Him, which ruled out crazy whim or caprice, too. He was not flexing or bullying or doing anything like that.

He’s also omniscient, right? God knows everything. If He did, that meant the questions He was asking weren’t particularly important for Him. If that was true, then they were probably more for my benefit. There was something meant for good in this situation for me. What could it be?

I thought about it. I still think about what good there could be in brokenness, and when I do, a passage that consistently springs to mind is Isaiah 53. It is well worth a thoughtful read, so I’m going to paste it in and leave you there until the next post. If you’d prefer NIV over the KJV, click on the Isaiah 53 link. Bible Gateway has many other versions, too.

Isaiah 53

King James Version (KJV)
53 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Brokenness

Somewhere in my blog’s post section, there’s a blank post titled “Brokenness.” I’ve been trying to write this post for weeks, and I keep getting stuck. I’ve fallen asleep at night trying to form it. I’m sure I’ve walked down halls muttering to myself as I’ve wrestled with it. It’s been something of a pain. I can’t quite forget it, but I haven’t quite produced it, either. It’s important to me, though, so I’m going to keep trying.

A few years ago, I was definitely working through some stuff. In some ways, it was a great time in my life. God helped me do some serious cleaning up of my attitudes, emotions, habits, questions, and so on. I had baggage. I’m pretty sure nobody escapes their childhood without some (even good homes come with some!), and growing with abuse, neglect, and all that certainly marked me up. I had trouble trusting. I hated being touched. I was alienated from my emotions. The list goes on. God and some good friends helped me dig into that and deal with the causes, and the results were great. However, the process was absolutely awful. I was alienated from emotions for good reason. There was so much pain, fear, and other painful and scary emotions I’d  been shoving to the side that I somehow had to actually process and release. I hurt a lot. Most of the time, I wasn’t sure the pain was ever going to go away. It was overwhelming, and it went on and on and on.

I frequently thought about brokenness during this, especially as I hurt. I prayed about it a lot, because part of what was happening to me was having to face and accept my own brokenness, my lack of perfection. I wasn’t perfect. I’d really wanted to be perfect, though, and I’d tried hard to do and say and be all the right things so that I could be perfect. It wasn’t my fault that I had failed. I really did my best, and I talked to God about it all often. My prayers went something like, “God, I hurt. I hurt so much, and I’m not sure it’s ever going to end. I’m tired. I’m dysfunctional. I can’t do things the way they should be done. I’m just… screwed up.” I would sigh, pause, maybe cry a little. It was… Hard overly simplifies how I felt. I was frustrated. I was disappointed in myself, in God, in my circumstances, and in other people. I was in pain. I was frightened, because I was having to admit inadequacy, and I’d been taught that was a very dangerous thing to do. I didn’t know if I could or should have hope. I wanted to be better. Oh, my gosh, I just wanted so badly to be better and done, to be fixed, better, something – for it all to be over. I ached for that.

In not quite words and more than a feeling, God talked to me about that. He asked me a horrible question. Right in the face of my aching desire to be better, He asked me, “What if you don’t get better? What if healing for you doesn’t look like the removal of your brokenness? What if it’s not just gone, and you spend the rest of your life limping?”

The rest of my life? What would you do? How would you feel?

I think this is a good place to stop and wait and ponder, so I’ll see you later.