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If You’re Broken, There’s a Way Out: Get to Brokenness

My own messy life left me with two options: Cover it up – build some work-arounds that allow me to schlepp along. Go through the pain and see what it has to teach me. I chose the latter. Was it courage or just a dogged commitment to authenticity? I don’t know – I just felt boxed in by my o…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

My own messy life left me with two options:

  • Cover it up – build some work-arounds that allow me to schlepp along.
  • Go through the pain and see what it has to teach me.

I chose the latter. Was it courage or just a dogged commitment to authenticity? I don’t know – I just felt boxed in by my own convictions, and though I could hide from people well enough, I couldn’t hide from reality.

The fact was: I was broken and felt a deep anguish. In my 20’s, I’d been fired multiple times. I was not doing a great job of providing for my young family. And inside I just felt so broken, so inadequate for the challenges facing me.
 
But over time, here’s what I’ve learned: we’re all broken! Some of us are just more committed to not admitting the fact. We hide in the language of victimization and responsibility-ducking. We look for others to blame or reasons that justify our behavior.
 
It can be exasperating to deal with a close friend or someone in your family who prefers to duck and dodge as opposed to trading in reality. 
 
Admitting the reality of being broken is costly – most people won’t go there without a fight. To do otherwise can require either committing to fix the issue or being exposed as deficient when it’s all they can do to just make it through the day.
 
All of us, when we get to the place in our lives where we see how broken we are, have a choice to make. We can avoid the pain of dealing with it by deflecting attention from it. Or we can admit it. 
 
If we admit that we are broken and embrace that reality, then we have arrived at the unpleasant and lonely place of brokenness. The good news about brokenness is that you no longer have to expend all the energy to keep up appearances – you can now take that energy and apply it to getting to a place of wholeness.
 
People who work with addicts call this “hitting bottom.” Until a person hits bottom and says, “Yes, the reality is, I’m broken. I’ve wanted a drink worse that I’ve wanted to stop lying to people,” they can’t begin to heal.
 
The bad news about getting to brokenness is that you are likely to experience a profound sense of disorientation. What used to come naturally no longer works. You’re unsure of yourself. And as you look at the parts of your life that feel hopelessly broken, you can come to the conclusion, “I’m a mess. I’m useless to anybody. I should just give up.”
 
The truth is, you were always a mess, always broken, just like the rest of us. Getting to brokenness involves coming to a greater awareness of what others can plainly see. God allows you to go blithely through life, ignorant of the things that sabotage your relationships and work.
 
But he’ll allow the evidence of your brokenness to accumulate until it reaches the tipping point and you can acknowledge that not only is what you’re doing not working for you, but that you need to make a change.
 
So, here’s a message from all of us who have committed to dropping the defensive posture that looks at others before we look at ourselves, to the rest of you who are working hard at guarding your brokenness:
 
Isn’t it time to stop the masquerade? You exhaust us. Even saying this to you now feels exhausting. We only want to see you whole and happy. All the deflection, the passive-aggressive conversations, the endless expenditure of energy to avoid admitting what all of us plainly see is simply not worth it.
 
What you’re protecting is not worth the effort – yours and ours. If you could see the way it has hurt the very people you love and pushed them away from you, you wouldn’t be as committed to hiding as you are.
 
Today would be a good day to let your healing begin. We promise that we’ll show you the grace that you need to find your way back to daylight. We’ll love you and encourage you the best way we know how. We’ve been there ourselves and know well the grace we needed. 

Comments (4)

  • A few months ago my wife signed us up for an intense healing weekend which begins this evening. I agreed to go for a couple of reasons none of which were for my own healing process. This is not my first “healing program” experience and, because I know how they work, now I find my self anxious as the time draws closer. Building mental walls about where I will and will not go in conversations. Your words have encouraged me to remember what this is all about and even though it is uncomfortable to “go through the pain and see what it has to teach me.”

  • Thanks Seth! Really needed and totally understood. I’m glad I reached my breaking point on the race because the healing I received from it was incredible! I am a new person because the Lord told me who I am to Him. I hope others can embrace these truths and put down the mask and realize that it is harder to try to hold the performance up and pretend we aren’t broken. My prayer is that America would expose more of our brokenness that Jesus would bring more healing into those places.

  • Until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change…there are very few who will.

    Finding those who are committed to walking with you through the process is necessary for the long term

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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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