In Praise of Brokenness

The past felt hard but the worst was yet to come. Thank God I was oblivious to this fact. In the exact middle, between hurt and more hurt, I ventured off to a 9-month, intensive, Biblical Studies program.

I wanted the learning for my future career in ministry but needed it for my own personal survival. In the wilderness of Montana I worked hard, day-in and day-out. Most days were between 8-9 hours with my nose in the Bible. Many days it was more.

The learning was mentally exhilarating. Emotionally, though, something new was digging in to me.

praise-of-brokennessI remember the day clearly. In an effort to break up the monotony, a group of students decided to go to a local coffee shop to study. We all spread out to our own tables, ordered our bottomless coffee and began to pound away at the work to be done. The book of Romans was our current task. This is no small feat to grasp if you are familiar with the Bible. I remember the exact table and the uncomfortable wooden chair I was sitting in. While classmates around me were doing a theological CrossFit routine in their minds… I was reading the same phrase over and over and over.

“so death spread to all”
“so death spread to all”
“so death spread to all”

Then, the tears just came. They welled up and cascaded down, one after another. I wept… and wept and wept. My head dropped, I didn’t want anyone to see my face. My closest friend could hear me.

With confusion, “Lindsey, what is wrong?”

There was no reason for me to suddenly burst in to tears, especially for a committed non-cryer like me.

“Oh don’t worry, I’ll be ok” I replied.

The tears were now morphing with the snot. I was a mess and clearly not ok. That was my exact thought.

“I am not ok… not on any level.”

I wasn’t just talking about the past. I was not just fearing the future. After 16 years of following Jesus… at that moment, at that coffee shop, for the first time in my life I came to terms with my own brokenness and the brokenness of this world.

The Bible gave me permission to admit the stark reality. I had tasted, lived and dwelled with death more intimately than I wanted to admit.

I was not a good person who messed up a little bit. I was not someone who made mere mistakes. I was not a girl in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was deeply, deeply broken. Loved, valued… broken.

Jesus didn’t come to rescue mistakers. He died to give life to dead people. And I was one of those dead people… I knew it deeper than I ever had.

But the tears were not tears of condemnation. They were tears of collapse. Tears of a deep, deep sorrow. Sorrow at my hurt, sorrow at my own ineptitude to fix this mess. Sorrow at the pain around me. Tears of surrender and thus tears of pure joy.

I’ve never know such joy and gratitude mixed with such sorrow. I now new the meaning of the phrase, “such sweet sorrow.”

In the past I was looking for a Jesus who fixed mistakes. That day I realised I had a Jesus who made dead people come alive.

So I leaned in. I was tired and I pressed┬áin to it. I was broken and I leaned in. I was hopeless and I pushed right in to the middle of it. I longed for a land I didn’t know or couldn’t name and I dwelled right there, looking for the unknown shore.

Not because I’m a masochist. I leaned in because God doesn’t pat mistakers on the back. God makes dead people come alive. As long as I minimise my brokenness; I minimise my hope, rescue and life.

For the past 14 years, I’ve been leaning in. It’s there I find Jesus. Jesus doesn’t look for self-help experts. He looks for inept, broken, dead people. American business experts suggest women “lean in” to success and greater achievements. The Gospel dares us to lean in to our failures and pain.┬áIt is there that we find something completely unexpected.

When I’m tempted to run away or minimise. I lean in.
When I fear for my children’s future. I lean in.
When I hurt others. I lean in.
When others wound me. I lean in.
When I face other’s brokenness. I lean in.
When I’m ashamed of my failures. I lean in.

The harder I lean, the more quickly I feel the embrace of the Father.

And so death spread to all. The lie is that the story ends there.

Where death increased, grace abounded all the more. This is where the story ends.

This is in praise of brokenness. In that land, God makes dead people come alive.

Lindsey

  • Incognito

    I’d love to hear some practical examples of how to “lean in”. Thank you for sharing =)

    • lindsey

      That is a really great question, Incognito:) I think it can be different for each person. For me, there is a real effort to “walk through” a situation or pain rather than “avoid” or “deny”. My go to coping mechanism is “wishful thinking”, Meaning, “if I ignore all this, it will eventually go away!” Wrong. For me then, to lean in means asking for help more quickly, admitting my sins and failures more readily, being more open with friends about struggles, fears and challenges. Instead of carrying things for months, I really push myself hard to go to someone and say, “today, this is where I’m at, will you listen and be with me in that?”. What are you thoughts?