When I think of brokenness, I think of need and pain. But this was not God’s original intent. Since the fall, in our brokenness we have tried to make things better in our own ways.
I remember a hard place in my life many years ago where I was broken, and not just spiritually but physically. At the time, I was 8 months pregnant with a broken knee and during an altercation with my husband made a poor choice that caused a great deal of shame and had legal repercussion.
Ten days after I broke my knee, I gave birth to my second, precious son. I had two other children that I parented from the bed I was trapped to, in addition to my marriage barely surviving. Making matters even more uncomfortable was that I couldn’t shower since the only shower was upstairs, I couldn’t cook, couldn’t clean my house, or any of the daily tasks that somehow make us feel needed and part of something. I pressed through it all with a heavy but softened heart from all the brokenness, literally.
I discovered that I had put up so many walls that my heart was like a dried up sponge that needed to be submerged in the healing ministry of Christ’s love. I could hardly receive love from the Lord much less those around me. What I believed about others told me it wasn’t safe to receive anything from anyone.
I started praying Ephesians 1: 17-19. God opened my eyes to the purpose of the brokenness: to learn how to receive with empty hands and a teachable heart saying, “Lord, take all the empty and broken places in my heart, fill me and teach me how to receive love.” Ultimately it was a trust issue, one rooted in pride and fear, opposing humility and a soft malleable heart in the hand of our great God.
As I flipped through the worn pages of my journal a few lessons come to mind. First was the picture of my newborn’s dependence on me, second was a sermon from Psalm 23 regarding Jesus as Shepherd and last was an experience with two women.
With a broken knee and postpartum blues, I laid there day in and day out. Most days I was mesmerized by my newborn’s sweet face in complete dependence. God showed me that complete dependence was what I needed because everything about my life was in shambles. The only gleam of hope was thinking on a verse that gave me courage to carry on:
“My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects. God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment, its training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God…But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun…for it’s the well trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.” (Hebrews 12:6, The Message)
During a sermon on Psalm 23, I realized how loving of God to break my leg just as the Shepherd breaks the sheep’s leg when refusing to return to the fold. This was to protect them from the wolves because sheep are stupid and easily go astray. The Great I AM isn’t an irresponsible God, He is the Good Shepherd and I could and can entrust myself to him, he is safe and wants me to feel safe with his love.
Another situation where God so tenderly taught me to trust through those around me was when a mother and daughter came to my home to wash and massage my feet and legs. My legs were suffering from muscle apathy from being unable to walk for months, therapy hadn’t begun because I was in postpartum recovery. Besides the obvious, the humility these women showed me was extraordinary. It was also very personal of the Lord to bring them to treat me in such a way. They had no idea that my husband loves my feet but at that time because our marriage was struggling, the little things we loved about each other were falling by the way side. The hardship was taking a toll on all of us.
One can never really see the whole of brokenness at the time. Today, though I can say that every broken piece God mended is now a beautiful place in my life. My marriage gets stronger every day and I am so grateful we didn’t react to the hard, broken places by leaving the fold. I am overwhelmed by the grace of God to keep us from divorce or we wouldn’t have the sweet places we have today.
Is God good, even in brokenness? Do you see his goodness? May the truth of God renew your mind; Lord we look to you to exchange the broken hard places for beauty!