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Becoming aware of our brokenness

Over my years in ministry, I’ve thought a lot about brokenness. I like this picture of a group of garbage pickers on a trash heap with their bags of trash. It’s a metaphor for we humans and our brokenness. Brokenness is something that we carry with us, but are oblivious to. It’s trashy behavior…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Over my years in ministry, I’ve thought a lot about brokenness.

I like this picture of a group of garbage pickers on a trash heap with their bags of trash. It’s a metaphor for we humans and our brokenness.

Brokenness is something that we carry with us, but are oblivious to. It’s trashy behavior that others see, but not us. In other countries, they butt in line without shame. In America, we may be too refined to do that, but we express our selfishness in other ways.

I’ve cut people off in traffic before, and if a person is speaking too slowly, I’ll cut them off in conversation as well. My motive is too often to make the conversation more efficient. Which is fine except that it hurts people.

Or worse still, my words may be fine, but my tone communicates I don’t care. You can remember your words, but totally miss the tone in your voice. And when I hurt people like that, it’s a function of my brokenness. I was reminded of my tone this morning and feel like a hypocrite even writing about this.

Going on a good kingdom journey takes us into a place where we experience brokenness and are ashamed of it. The journey doesn’t break us per se, we just get to where we can see what was there all along. We think we’ve arrived at a place of brokenness when in reality we’ve just become aware of that trash bag we were carrying with us.

I’ve asked God why it’s so important that we embrace our brokenness. He showed me that he takes us into brokenness in part to make us whole, and in part so that we can become more fully a member of the body of Christ.

Jesus was broken for us. And his body (that’s us, the body of Christ), is broken insofar as we don’t function as a unit – we work in isolation, but rarely in the coordinated way that we were intended to function.

Yes, we are part of his body. But to the extent that we are independent and self-sufficient, we deny that reality.

So here’s the great irony – we must be broken if we are to play our part in the body of Christ. “I delight in weaknesses,” Paul proclaims.

Most of us feel disconnected in life. We long for closer friends, better church, and greater intimacy. To get there, we have to first connect with our brokenness.

Comments (7)

  • Good stuff… thank you, Seth. It’s funny, okay, well, not funny, but I don’t think I’ve ever thought about my brokenness. I recoginzie it in others, and whenever someones says or does or behaves in a way that’s hurtful to me or a third party, or even to themselves, I stop and pray for them, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do. Please heal whatever is wounded or broken inside them that makes them do or say such destructive and self-destructive things.” It’s a prayer God has always answered for me by, at the very least, filling me with compassion toward that person so that I don’t take personally whatever is going on, but love them instead… it truly amazes me with a peace that surpasses understanding and/or a joy that defies logic in the presence of the storm. But I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever prayed it for myself… I pray “Father, forgive me”… but have I prayed that same prayer I pray for others, for myself? I don’t think so… at least not in that same forthright manner. Thank you, Seth, for setting my mind to running down a different path… lovin’ y’all… and praying for you always, always..

  • I appreciate this so much. When leaders/teachers/speakers/Christians teach using only others as their examples of broken, messed up people, you sometimes internalize the idea that there are some who have “arrived” and they must find others to use as examples since they are no longer struggling. Tends to lead me to wonder why I haven’t yet “arrived” as well!

    There is so much that I gleaned from this post.

    Thanks so much.

  • shared with all my contacts it came at a a point of my brokenness thank u SETH MAN OF GOD it’s like God told u to send this to me ta a biiiiiiiiiilion

  • Thanks Dad!
    Embracing our brokenness helps us learn to forgive others when the pieces of their broken parts cut us.

  • Thank you Seth. I’ve been reminded lately that God’s beauty is found in redemption. And there is no redemption without brokenness.

    Now, I’m beginning to realize why Paul would rejoice in his weakness.

  • Thanks Seth…this is excellent. In the spirit of Henri Nowen the true “healers” are those who point to their own wounded lives and let them become a channel for the healing grace of the Living God.

    I’ve gotten to a place in my own broken life where I have a hard time trusting people who are not open about their “limps” and disappointments.

    Blessings friend…always.

  • After reading your book, “Kingdom Journeys”, I get it about brokenness although I never used the word “brokenness”, I finally could relate to my emotional state of it! Then, I could feel a sense of freedom in the translation of my own identity, & yet did not feel guilty about who I am. I know this sounds confusing to anyone reading this, however, it is my unique experience. Thank you Seth for sharing that which had some of us held captive without our knowledge of who or what was holding us captive. I am growing closer to God ea. day while I experience my own journey! Blessings to you!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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