The Beauty of Brokenness:
Am I nuts! How can being broken – that is emotionally crushed, my self-confident insides becoming wobbly like a rag doll – how can that be beautiful?
“Remember what brokenness is. It’s the awareness that you long to be someone you’re not and cannot be without divine help.” Dr Larry Crabb, Shattered Dreams: God’s Unexpected Pathway to Joy (Waterbrook Press, 2001, p 73)
When I became a follower of Jesus – more commonly called a “Christian” – I said I believed and would follow the Son of God who was loving, perfect and beautiful. That surrender marked the admittance that I wanted to be someone I was not, and the recognition that I could only become who I desired through Jesus. My journey has continued for thirty years, and like you who have come to the same realization, and have made the same commitment, I can safely say He is still loving, perfect and beautiful. I, like you, am gradually becoming a very little bit more like him and am being sanctified – ‘working out my own salvation with fear and trembling’. (Phil 2:12)
As I began this year, I had the resolve to share my perspective on brokenness, based on my story, and to share here on this platform, month-by-month, on the First of each month, so that others may comment, and we can all grow and be encouraged. So now, here is my commitment, to write monthly and to start with this series about Brokenness.
Through the autumn of 2013 I had the privilege of God honoring my prayer to be more like him. Piece by fleshly piece, he showed me weaknesses in gentle but undeniable ways. He showed me my tendency to self-importance, my vanity, where I am judgmental and presumptuous. He also showed me my limitations — and a dream had to die. But through my sense of defeat, He gave me brokenness and through brokenness, He gave me victory.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (NKJV)
I am convinced that there is purpose in our suffering. We don’t seek suffering in order to discover the high purpose, but in all things we can persevere in Christ for His high purpose and calling. Where there is pain, the ashes can be turned to joy.
Last fall I experienced a Tunnel longer than I’ve ever experienced. By ‘Tunnel’ I mean a place emotionally and spiritually where I felt confined by failure and deep conviction; I was being crushed. That is to say my limitations through my own endeavors were being revealed and where my personality was deeply flawed, these flaws were being exposed to me. I recognized I was in a ‘Tunnel’ and prayed, waited, remained faithful until the tunnel yielded to deeper relationship with God, greater reliance on Him, and absolute joy. Recognizing the Tunnel doesn’t change the circumstance, but it shapes the experience and makes it more endurable.
So, over the next several months I’m going to share my experience of the ‘Tunnel’: what I experienced, what I learned, and how it has changed me.
What is the Tunnel?
The Tunnel is the place where we go spiritually and emotionally, when circumstances are difficult and our efforts seem to make no impact to improve our circumstances. We began our spiritual lives when we confessed our faith and commitment to God through Christ. (I claim that this is the only true spirituality because only Christ has the authority to revive/give rebirth to our spirit. All other spirituality is false, and a matter of soul development in the guise of spirituality.)
But I digress…
Often we who come to Christ do so while in a tunnel; it is while we are in this tunnel that we admit our limitations and surrender to God, thankful for His salvation and love. Then, God blesses us with many victories, which build our faith, our confidence in Him and our thanksgiving.
But there comes a time when the world, the devil or other people hurt us. We become disillusioned, sometimes even with God who didn’t protect us from this misery. Or we who are well versed in scripture and understand the tunnel as a spiritual battle, determine to fight back, hurling scriptural curve balls at the enemy, who is behind the ‘attack’ upon us. We may be using scripture to defeat the enemy who seeks to destroy us, when in actual fact our attention might be better placed on the LORD, who is allowing the challenge to teach us about ourselves and to help us to deepen our relationship with Him.
I am saying that being ‘In the Tunnel’ is the experience of those ‘attacks’ to our soul (will, emotions, intellect), and are actually sources for our benefit and growth, when we allow God-to-be-God in them, and show us what He is teaching us. I am suggesting that the pain that is present alongside our ‘Tunnel’ experiences are a part of God’s refining us to be more like Him, just as we’ve asked him to do. Just as we have come to Christ as we recognized our sinful nature, so we come deeper to him as we see the soil in our soul.
There is much beauty in every human being. But no believer and follower remains the same as the day s/he came to Christ. Growth often has to come from pain, because it is in pain we most vehemently call upon him.
But fear not. The Tunnel does not last forever. It is inevitable I think, that we experience tunnels. But how we experience them depends greatly on our understanding of the purpose for them and our keenness to grow.
There are plenty of individual circumstances that may seem to contradict my standpoint. What about the child abused by his parents? Or the spouse betrayed by the one person s/he has placed all her/his trust in? Abuse and betrayal of the innocent is painful and wrong and not Godly. In His loving character and sovereignty, my theology does not suggest He wishes it. Rather, human beings are certainly responsible for their actions against one another. But what I am saying is that God allows suffering to draw us closer to Him. Those who follow Him are not immune to suffering and in fact can benefit most. Just as we suffered in order to discover our need for Him in the first place, so we suffer to discover our continual need to be transformed into His likeness.
I welcome discussion and will aim to reply to any comment.
God bless, until next post on March 1st.