Thursday, February 18, 2016

Broken

            It hurts to be broken. 
            It’s being vulnerable, taking a risk with our hearts . . . sometimes winning, sometimes losing. 
            It’s leaning on others and opening ourselves up to them, to trust, to hope.  Sometimes finding support and acceptance and help, being caught before we hit the ground.  And sometimes being let down and battered, falling flat on our faces when others pull back and fail to catch us. 
            Sometimes, it’s just a minor annoyance, a pain that we absorb with relative ease, realizing that we are better for it.  And sometimes, it’s more pain than we can bear, feeling like we’ll never be whole again, wanting to curl up in a ball in a dark, lonely corner and fall asleep forever. 
            Being broken hurts!   
            And it leaves us different, changed.  It leaves tear-stains on our cheeks.  Scars on our hearts.  Bruises on our souls.  A limp in our walk. 
            Does anyone care?  Is God listening?  Does He see us cry?  Will He make it all better?  When will the pain end?  When will I go from just existing to really living?  Is this really all there is?
            Being vulnerable is risky.  Being broken hurts.  No matter how much you care and how hard you try and how much you hope, life can be mean and unfair and unstable.  It can leave you exhausted and discouraged and depressed, unable to want to care anymore or try anymore or hope anymore.  It can make you want to claw your way out of your own skin just so you can find the “you” hidden somewhere under the bad things that have buried you alive, the “you” who hasn’t felt light and free and alive in such a long time.  It can make you want to run and run and run, as fast and as far as you can in any direction, just to get away from where you are.  Maybe even to get away from yourself.  It can make you feel like you stepped inside a giant balloon that you pulled up over your head and tied off . . . and then someone sucked all the air out of it, sealing it tightly around your whole body . . . and you can’t breathe . . . and you begin to panic . . . and you start to punch and kick and pull at the balloon that is covering your face so that you can catch a breath of fresh air . . . but no matter how much you punch and kick and pull, the balloon moves with you, like a “second skin” that you can’t take off . . . you can’t breathe, you can’t get away from it . . . all you can do is stop fighting it, stop caring, stop trying . . . just lay down and accept it . . . barely existing.
            Being broken hurts.  And the scars that are left on your heart and your soul are ugly and tender to touch.  And they never really go away. 

            But . . . they make us more human.  They make us real.  The pain lets us know that we are alive.  That we need God.  And that it’s okay to need Him, to lean on Someone bigger than us when our strength is gone and our energy spent and we have no other hope left. 
            Life will kick us all down at some point.  It will stomp on our heads and repeatedly kick us in the sides while we lie on the ground in a battered heap, crying and bleeding and hurting. 
            And when it does, we will have a decision to make: 
            - Let the brokenness harden us more, making our self-protective walls stronger and thicker so that we can keep God and others out, protecting us from further risk and vulnerability and pain.
            - Or let the brokenness soften the walls around our heart so that God’s love can break through and flood it with His healing . . . so that we learn that it’s okay to be human, to be more real with God and others, to let them see our pain and brokenness . . . so that we can see and admit our need for grace and mercy and forgiveness and love and compassion, the very things that God offers us so freely . . . and so that our heart becomes soft enough that it expands, filling with grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, and compassion for others, too, for those who hurt and are broken and who mess up, just like we do. 
            A heart that has never been broken - a soul that has never been humbled – cannot really understand its daily, desperate need for the Lord and cannot feel genuine empathy and compassion for others when they hurt.
            Being broken either makes us more phony or it makes us more real.  It either makes us “different from others” or it makes us more human.  It either fills us with indignation and bitterness or with humbleness and compassion.  It either makes us shut down more or it brings us to life more. 
            I choose real.  I choose human.  I choose humbleness and compassion.  I choose life.
            It’s okay to be broken! 
            I do not regret the things that have broken me.

            In suffering, I have learned to let go of control and idols and wayward priorities and the kind of “trust in God” that comes only when I am getting my way.  I have learned the difference between gratitude and entitlement, between humble faith and presumptuousness.  I have learned that it’s okay to not know the answers when you know the One who does, to be weak when you are leaning on the One who is strong, to fall apart in front on the One who can put you back together.  I have learned to trust Him, even in the dark.  To cling during the heartbreak and long trials.  To praise in the pain, instead of just when things are good and I am getting what I want.  To be as content as possible in the “lack of . . .” and in the unfulfilled dreams because I know that this life isn’t all there is, the best is yet to come.  And you can’t learn these precious lessons during the easy times.  But only in the heartbreaking trials.
            I do not regret the things that have broken me.   
            In suffering alone can you learn to say and really mean, “I need You.  I trust You, no matter what.  Your will be done.  It is well with my soul because I know You are there and You are walking with me and You are going to work it out somehow, even if I never see how until eternity.  My hope is in You.  My joy is in You.  Whether You give or take away, blessed be Your name!” 
            In fact, I have learned how stable He is only by going through times when everything else that I trusted in was shaken to pieces, when all my efforts and dreams and hopes have failed, when I have been forced to learn to simply sit at His feet in exhausted silence instead of trying to force my will on life, to “be still and know He is God,” even in the storms.  Because nothing else but Him is worth planting my feet on.  Nothing else really matters but His presence and comfort and grace.
            Going through the world-shaking, sky-falling, self-confidence-crushing trials has taught me to listen more instead of just talking.  To follow instead of lead.  To transparently and humbly cry out to Him instead of stuffing my feelings and plastering on a “good Christian” smile.  To realize just how weak I am and how desperately I need Him, instead of just relying on myself.  Not just need His gifts or His help . . . but need Him.  Just more of Him. 
            Even when my world is shaking and the sky falls down around me, my feet are planted on a sure, stable Foundation.  The only sure, stable Foundation there is.    
            I do not regret the things that have broken me. 
            They are the things that have humbled me.  That have made me feel more deeply and purely.  Made me reprioritize, remembering that only the eternal things will last.  Made me stronger in invisible ways.  Made me learn that it’s okay when the bitter is mixed with the sweet, because that’s how life really is.  Made me more sensitive to others, more compassionate, more gracious.  Made me reach more for my God.  Made me learn what trust really is and what it really isn’t, helping me learn to still trust Him in the “no” and the “not yet.”  Made me more human, more real.  Made me know that I am alive and that pain isn’t all bad and that eternity is right around the corner. 
            While life might not be easy . . . it is worth it!  Because of who He is and because of how much He loves us. 
            And someday, He will welcome us Home and all things will be made right again.  And we’ll see the beauty that was wrought from the mess, the perfect that was created from the broken.  And we’ll find eternal rest and joy for our souls. 
            And we can live with messy and broken until then. 
            I do not regret the things that have broken me.
            Life is good (even when it’s not) because God is good.  A good, loving, gracious, merciful, forgiving, compassionate God.  And it is into His hands that I commit the broken pieces of my heart and my life, trusting Him to turn them into something wonderful.  And until then . . . I simply cling to Him.  Refusing to let go.  Because I know that He is real.  And He is good.  And He is love.
            Always!
            I know that I can trust Him.  Even when I don't understand what He is doing. 

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