I was talking with a life coach last week. He probed broken areas of my life that I had dealt with a long time ago. I’m a grown man in my 50’s, yet when my coach put a magnifying glass up to my early life, I still had to struggle with my feelings as a high school student.
“How did you feel?” He asked.
“I felt small, lonely, and inadequate. I was depressed,” I answered, wishing he would move on to the next subject.
“If you are going to be able to lead at the next level, you’re going to need to be able to talk about that stuff.”
I knew what he was saying is true, but here’s my struggle: If talking about my brokenness helps others, it also causes me to relive and rehearse those old feelings. Helping them hurts me.
Thinking about it brought these truths about brokenness to mind:
1. We are all broken
We all do things that hurt other people. Our brokenness causes us to act in ways that we regret. Our old wounds may cause us to be sarcastic or evasive. Or, defending our brokenness, we may lash out in more obvious ways.
But knowing that we all share brokenness can be a positive thing. The Bible talks about “fellowship” in suffering (Phil. 3:10).
Feeling like you are the only one broken one in a group can push you into a place of secrecy and shame. Conversely, AA groups work in part because they acknowledge their common brokenness in every meeting. The ground is level at the foot of the cross.
2. We are often unaware of our brokenness
On our journeys through life, we may arrive at a place where we feel we are being broken. The irony is, we were already broken. Often we are just now discovering what was already obvious to our friends.
Sometimes God wants to heal us, but that can’t happen until we see our brokenness for what it is and humble ourselves. Sarah Gill said something that struck me: “True healing and freedom from our brokenness cannot occur until we come to terms with our brokenness.”
Karen and I have prayed for healing for one of our children. And the healing didn’t come. Instead God said, “let me use her.”
We may perceive an area of weakness as brokenness. We may respond by hiding in shame, but it may be the very place God wants to use us.
3. God gives us brokenness as a gift
Yes, God uses our brokenness. He tells us that he uses our weakness as a point of strength. So, to hide brokenness is to in a way hide the gift of God.
It seems inside out, but lately leadership gurus are beginning to tout the benefits of vulnerability in leaders. Leaders who are in touch with their brokenness and able to share it take the pressure off their followers to be anything other than themselves.
Paul was given a thorn in his flesh. It annoyed him and he prayed repeatedly for God to take it away. But God didn’t. Paul felt broken and wanted to be fixed. But there is a brokenness that God never intends to fix.
No one enjoys talking about how they’re messed up. But if we can press into it, we can experience a whole new level of freedom. Here are some questions to help you process this:
How are you broken?
In what ways might you be broken, yet unaware? Can you talk about it without being defensive?
How have you responded to brokenness? If it’s a gift, are you able to say thank you?