Do you see yourself as broken?
It’s an interesting question to ask people. Some will respond yes, explaining histories of trauma, while others say no, just as emphatically.
“Broken” is an adjective described in the dictionary as, “having been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order.”
When I look at the world, I see everyone as broken.
I believe one of the deepest and most integral parts of Christianity is acknowledging brokenness, both in the world and oneself. For me, much of that recognition has come in the past year.
Throughout my life, I’ve always tried to maintain a sense of composure: emotionally, physically, and mentally. This is a reaction to my childhood, when everything felt broken.
As an adult, I want to present myself to others as solid, stable in my identity and my life. Someone who knows where she is going, and has learned from where she’s been. I have written about many of my struggles, hoping both to encourage others in their own journeys and to heal myself. But still I am broken.
I struggle to escape from regrets over the things I’ve done, even though I’ve asked for forgiveness and live differently.
In my heart of hearts, I know I have been forgiven. Yet often I wonder if I will ever get out from under the shame of the past. Will I allow myself to feel the worthiness I know God bestows upon us all as His children?
I tell myself this story: that I carry my shame with me as a reminder of where I have been and how God has redeemed me. Perhaps the truth is, I carry it like armor. I’m deeply afraid I don’t deserve good things or good relationships, that if people really knew me, they would reject me. I’m afraid if I lay down my shame, I’ll forget my sins and go back to them. So I keep them close.
There are two sides to salvation, though. First is understanding one’s sins and need for salvation, as Paul says to Timothy:
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.1 Timothy 1:15
I have no problem acknowledging that: “I am the worst.” All our sins are equal in God’s eyes.
The flip side is harder for me to live out: God gives grace and blots out our sins once we repent of them.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.Romans 8:1-2
Lately, I’ve been peeling my armor off, bit by bit, if just for a while. I’m fortunate to have friends who listen to me without judgement, with open hearts and arms. They make me understand I am valued in spite of the worst things I’ve done.
Whether we acknowledge it or not, we all carry a heavy burden. We are bound in brokenness; it’s a component of humanity. Understanding it helps us gain empathy for ourselves and for others, and it helps us heal.
I encourage you to examine your life: where are your broken pieces? What do you hold onto as armor? Maybe it’s time you work on laying it down and stepping out of shame and into freedom.
There’s a song I love where the lyrics call God, “A rock of refuge where my pride is broken/ where we are built upon like living stone.”
I choose to think of my brokenness as a fissure, the heart of which God is using to rebuild me. He is at work carving and molding me into what He wants me to be. It’s painful, and it may take a lifetime, but I am confident of this: it will be worth the end result.