broken & beloved
I just returned home from a weekend speaking at Stanwich Church Women’s Retreat, surrounded by women hungry for more of God. There is so much I want to tell you but I will make this more of an introduction to all of the things with which I've been wrestling.
Lent has been a time of quieting down for me. I’ve meant to share some wonderful guest posts but instead I’ve been knee deep in two things: taking care of people I love who have been sick, and spending whatever time was left in God’s Word preparing to lead the retreat with a “Beautiful Broken” theme.
God has been teaching me so much about brokenness, and there is so much on my heart, I don’t even know where to start. I imagine I’ll be writing more on this topic in the weeks to come.
What I’ve been wrestling with in preparation for the retreat is “What do we even mean when we use the word ‘broken?’” Because if you’re anything like me you’ve tended to think of brokenness as a bad thing- or as merely a feeling that results from something negative or bad that happens to you- or a result of a decision you make. Almost like brokenness is circumstantial.
But what I’m discovering is that brokenness isn’t just a feeling. It’s not just a season in life. It isn’t something that just happens to us. Brokenness is the state in which we exist and live. It is part of who we are and who we will be until we are with Jesus.
In preparing for the weekend I was reminded of Brennan Manning’s thoughts above on brokenness.
Essentially what he’s saying is that if you’re breathing, you’re broken.
And if you’re broken, you need Jesus.
And last time I checked, needing Jesus is never, ever a bad thing. In fact, isn’t the Christian life about growing in our awareness of just how much we need Jesus and growing in reliance on Him to produce in our lives what our most moral endeavors could never produce. (Rather than it being about getting better and stronger every day so we need the work of Jesus Christ less and less.)
So then why have I always thought of brokenness as bad? Because it is a result of the fall? I guess. But digging deeper, I began to wonder, “Maybe it’s not our brokenness that bothers us as much as it is the feelings that our brokenness produces.”
Those feelings, of course, are fear and shame.
Our brokenness prevents us from being the best version of ourselves- from the most appreciative wife to the most patient mother, from being as productive and significant as we’d like, from being as strong and brave as we’d like, from being as compassionate and selfless as we’d like, from being as flawless and secure as we’d like.
And if we’re not our best we feel ashamed and fearful that we will lose the love, approval and affirmation of the people we want to love, approve and affirm us.
And it also probably means we are at risk of disappointing God and losing His love- which means He is probably frowning on us.
Those are the lies we believe and this produces feelings of shame and fear.
And the last thing we need is a little more shame in our lives. We are all well acquainted with shame. We all have a merciless critic in our head. A critic that can only be silenced by the cross- by anchoring our identity not in who we are in the flesh, which is sinful and broken, but by anchoring it in who we are in Christ, which is forgiven and beloved children of God.
Over the weekend, as I looked out over a room full of broken but beloved women - women just like me– women carrying real problems and real pain, but trusting in their God who so loved them that He gave His one and only Son to redeem and restore them through the cross, I had to ask myself, "What if brokenness isn’t so bad after all?" In fact, what if it’s a gift because it’s what keeps me close to the One who was broken so I can one day, when I am finally with Him, be made completely whole.
To be continued………