Updated: Apr 26, 2021
My sacrifice, O God, is[a] a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.Psalm 51:17
When I was younger, I believed that as a Christian I had to be perfect. I remember agonizing out about my many failings before God, imagining that He was shaking his head at me with a stern look on his face, ashamed of me that I couldn't quite get it right, disqualifying me from ever getting to serve him. These thoughts kept me awake with anxiety at night wondering if I had finally blown it to the point of being disowned by God, and in those nights I turned to my Bible, hoping above hope that God would send me a message not of punishment but of His love. When I turned to the above passage it was like a flood of healing washed over me. God didn't want me to come to him perfect, because He knew that was impossible. He wanted me to come to Him in my brokenness. I have learned many lessons about brokenness since then and I have found that brokeness is a gift, and it's a gift we all posssess if we can see it for what it is. These are some of the gifts that come from brokenness .
1.Brokenness makes you real. We spend a lot of time hiding who we really are. We use all sorts of defense mechanisms to feel like we are okay decent people. We project our failings onto others. We play the blame game. Or we think if we compare ourselves to others who may be worse off, it means we are better. We deny, we rationalize, we distract. We do all sorts of things to avoid our brokenness. And in that we keep ourselves seperate from intimacy with God and others. When we look at our brokeness, our woundedness and we see it for what it is, we can invite God and others to come close to our true selves and we can experience true healing.
2.Brokenness makes you compassionate. It is hard to be judgemental of others when you know that you too are capable of messing up. And when you know that given the same circumstances as someone else, you may be likely to behave in the same way. We can understand what might be behind someones unhealthy behavior because we know that sometimes our own unhealthy behavior was meant to try to help us deal with pain. We can see often the pain that hides behind another's brokenness and reach out in acceptance rather than recoil in rejection.
3. Brokenness makes you pliable. When we are broken we are open to being make new. We are longing for renewal and accepting of the process that leads to it. When we are unaware of our brokeness we are not looking to change anything. The thought of change may trigger shame and we run from it. If we can hold on to an image of ourselves as perfect we will not be open to growth. And we will not run to any source of healing because we never see the need for it. And I always tell people resiliancy comes from being pliable not rigid. Pliability is strength.
4.Brokenness connects you to others. When we come to realize that brokenness is part of the human condition, we are at peace with others and not feuding. We understand that we all share this need in common to be healed and to be made whole. It's compassion for sure for self and others, but it is also camaraderie with our fellow travelers in life. We can lend a helping hand to those who are behind us and we can reach for the hand of those who are ahead of us as we encourage those who walk along side of us. We lose competetion and comparison in favor of being there as a source of support for one another.
5. Brokenness puts you in the right posture before God. In Luke 18:10-14, Jesus tells a parable about two men who prayed before God. There was a pharasee who prayed “thank you God that I am not like other people“ and then he went on to talk about his good deeds. The other man wouldn’t even look up to heaven but beat his breast and said “God have mercy on me a sinner.” Jesus replied “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
When we come to God fully confessing our broken state we invite closer the healer of all wounds to touch us with His deep love and kindness. We can recognize our true identity before Him, that of beloved child. This love and knowledge is the source of radical healing and security.
Brokeness does not only happen because of our choices, sometimes brokeness happens because we've been betrayed or abused or rejected by those who are supposed to love us. Sometimes life throws something at us that we weren't prepared for that changes the trajectory of everything. But regardless of it's source, when we run from the truth of our brokenness, we miss out on the blessings listed above. I have often found that it's a relief to be real, in my own life and in my work with others. The burdens of trying to be perfect are heavy and when we recognize that perfection is not required of us to be loved and accepted by God, nor by others, we can be on our way to true growth and true authenticity, true freedom and true joy.
This post has been written as part of the five minute friday writing challenge. FMF is a community of writers who write for 5 minutes on a topic each Friday. Find out more here.