As I went to the Hungry for Hope conference last week to meet with others in recovery, to share my testimony of strength and wholeness through Christ….I was feeling, well, NOT whole. I was feeling very broken. Life circumstances had shaken me and I began to sense that I was beginning to slip back into that brokenness. I prayed for answers, for a glimpse, a reminder that I was no longer broken, but fixed, healed. I wanted the broken feeling to stay in the past. I didn’t like feeling it now…it made me doubt the strength of my faith in God. Am I just a fake? I wondered.
As part of the conference we were challenged to ask God to give us a word to describe our identity. We wrote these words on rocks that were supposed to be an altar of remembrance. Some wrote: “enough”, “worthy”, “daughter”, “beloved”…the only word I kept hearing was “broken”. But something strange was happening….I wasn’t hearing “broken” like you or I would say it…..I was sensing God saying, “You are not ‘broken’, you are ‘brOKen.’” The picture below is what came to my mind as I began to write:
“OK” in broken? I did not know what to do with this. Wasn’t I whole and complete through His Son? What did this mean? It is OK to feel broken? To be broken? Later God would answer me, but for the time, that night and through the next day, I would just sit with that image and prayerfully ponder the “ok”-ness of being broken.
Saturday the retreat brought us to a large church. The sanctuary was bustling with the excitement of a special event and I watched as people chatted and anticipated what was to come. But I couldn’t get into it…still preoccupied by that “ok” sitting in the middle of my brOKen. There in the Sanctuary I began to write:
I sit here feeling broken
I had to stop there, the event was starting. God, again, was telling me to just be ‘ok’ with the broken…He would reveal more in His own time.
The rest of the day was great…a fun event, quality time with a new friend, a much needed time of relaxing. I had just about forgotten about my word problem, my poem, my ‘broken’ feeling altogether. Until, that is, the last speaker of the evening began to talk. Although I wanted to listen to her wholeheartedly, I could not stop myself from writing what was coming to my mind. I took out my poem from earlier:
I sit here feeling broken
And here came God’s reply:
It is OK to be shy and quiet “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)
It is OK to feel angry “In your anger do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26)
It is OK to be unnoticed “My frame was not hidden from you” (Psalm 139:15)
It is OK to be uncomfortable “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God” (Isaiah 40:1)
It is OK to be alone “he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray” (Matt. 4:23)
It is OK to be brOKen “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit” (Psalm 51:17a)
In our culture, broken things are considered useless trash. Things…and people…who are deemed broken beyond repair are tossed aside, discarded, left alone. We are so desperate to have new things, the unbroken things that we slave away at jobs to afford them. We are so scared of our bodies looking “broken” that we seek to patch up all of the cracks and holes. We carve; we starve, in hopes that we can make ourselves into something other than broken. We do not want to appear fragile.
But I am not so sure that being broken is all that bad. I am not sure that broken is not exactly where God wants us. As long as I tried to ignore the broken parts of me and walk around my life as if I had it all together, God in me was hidden. When I tried to fix or mend the broken parts of my by filling my life with the people pleasing, perfectionism, and disordered eating, I was clogging up the very “holes” that would allow God to shine through in my life.
Even in my recovery, in my life now, I do not have to try to be “unbroken.” God wants me to remember that it is in the broken that He is revealed. The broken parts of me do not have to be patched up and spackled over…that is not what makes us whole, complete. We become so not by the means the world would say, we become whole and complete when God’s light bursts forth from within us shining through the cracks. In fact, the word “broken” in Psalm 51 means “to break” “to burst” or “to bring to the birth”. Yes, I am broken…but I am OK. In order for me to heal, I do not have to cover over the broken parts of my life…after all, any repair I try to do, will probably result in more damage. And I don’t need to try to fill myself up with things that aren’t meant to be part of me…the vessel God created. In my “broken”, there is only one thing missing….Jesus. Allowing His light into the heart of me…takes my “broken” and makes it OK. I become not the broken, but something useful to share His light with others.
Breathing In (Bible Study)
- Read Psalm 51:17
- The verse also speaks of a “broken heart”. Look up “broken” and “heart” in a concordance. How does knowing the meaning of these words help your understanding of this verse?
- There are two words for “broken” in Hebrew. In Psalm 51, it is ‘shabar’ which, among other things, describes a breaking down, a quenching, or to burst. The other, ‘sheber’, means fracture, ruin, and destruction. Why is it important to know that it is ‘shabar’ that God is wanting of us?
- What other words are important in this verse? Look those up in your concordance as well…journal about what you find out!
- What negative word about yourself do you carry around? What does God say in HIS word about THAT word? Ask God to reveal to you the word HE has for you. How does He describe you?
Breathing Out (Prayer)
Lord, I want to give you my broken spirit today, to sacrifice it to you. Please take it and use it as You will. I want to bring you the center of me, my heart, and collapse at the foot of the Cross. I lay down my broken so that you may send your Holy Spirit to live and move within me. I am ok with broken, Lord, knowing that through your son Jesus, I am made complete and whole. Amen