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The necessary journey to brokenness

So many of us are stuck in ruts in life, places where we’re trapped by past experience, by expectations, by relationships. Parts of our brain and spirit actually atrophy in those places. We need to break free – we need to get out of those places of immobility and limited imagination. Very oft…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
So many of us are stuck in ruts in life, places where we’re trapped by past experience, by expectations, by relationships. Parts of our brain and spirit actually atrophy in those places. We need to break free – we need to get out of those places of immobility and limited imagination. Very often what works best is a change of scenery. Different surroundings, different people, different ideas. If something inside you feels stuck and knows there’s more, maybe what you need to do is to go on a journey.
You may start on the journey to get away. And you may find yourself creating the space where you’re discovering life as it should be lived. If you go for an extended length of time (I suggest a year if you’ve never done much adventuring in your life), you’ll certainly do both. But if you’re willing to trust God enough to allow him to lead you, you’re going to find some unwelcome stops along the way as well.
In fact, there’s a place on your journey that I can guarantee you, you’d rather detour around. It’s a place where only cactus grows. It’s the badlands of brokenness. It’s a lonely, desolate place. Life as you’ve lived it doesn’t work there. It’s a place of pain, a place of tearing down, of deconstruction.

We need this journey for a lot of reasons. But perhaps the reason we need it most is that we need to discover brokenness, we need to recognize our own dysfunction and inadequacy. The irony is that, travel as we might, inevitably we find the brokenness within us. Try as we might to hide from them or ignore them, we carry our flaws with us.

Henri Nouwen says it well, “We live with broken bodies, broken hearts, broken minds or broken spirits. We suffer from broken relationships. How can we live our brokenness? Jesus invites us to embrace our brokenness as he embraced the cross and live it as part of our mission. He asks us not to reject our brokenness as a curse from God that reminds us of our sinfulness but to accept it and put it under God’s blessing for our purification and sanctification. Thus our brokenness can become a gateway to new life.”
If you’re feeling underwhelmed and bored by the life you’re living, the first thing to do is to wake up to how little is holding you back from a journey to find your true self. The logistics of a journey out into the world are nothing to fret about. You can eat for $5/day and travel doesn’t need to cost much more. Or sign up for the World Race and we’ll help you. Or contact me and I’ll put you in touch with others that are going to attempt a Luke 10 journey.
There’s no question, when you get to a place of brokenness, the cost will be high. That said, it’s a place you need to discover iif you’re to become the person God wants you to be.

Comments (10)

  • Hey dear friend I always love our insights.

    Strangely though I wonder when you told a perceived fried to go away for the Gospel.

    Is there one?

  • All I know is there are “treasures hidden in darkness and brokenness”. It was during our most broken time that we were called to go to Swaziland, even if it was only for 3 weeks. During our brokenness God started to make us alive to Him and His will. It was during that broken time that we dicsovered a gateway to a new life, like you are referring to Seth. It was such a painful, precious time and even though I don’t want to be broken physically, spiritually, and emotianally like that again soon, I find myself missing the treasures that came during this couple of years of brokenness. My human nature wants to detour it, if it ever comes close again. Now I know that in my spirit, I know it was through brokeness that I became new and alive in Christ.

  • I’d LOVE to go ion a Luke 10 type journey. Any ideas of how can incorporate that being a homeschooling mama of 5? I pray my family and I would be healers of the sick raisers of the dead, light to the lost and help for the hurting. May He raise up many godly strong families to change the face of this nation. 🙂

  • Ah, the badlands of brokenness…but the oases are popping up left and right, and I no longer feel like they are illusions; they are the image of what is around the bend, things to come if one journeys on without giving up or in.

    Press forward; Jesus is there alongside, and I can’t wait to embark on the journey ahead of Luke 10!

    Peace, Kathy

  • I’m in the same boat with Alida–homeschooling mama of 4. My husband and I have always wanted and are planning in the future of taking a family missionary trip. It would be great to do it through AIM.

  • I thought the picture you chose with the kudzu was appropriate for this post, Seth! Kudzu, while it looks nice and green and has pretty flowers, can entangle/strangle so much!

    There is something to be said about the things that hold us back…..and bring us to the place of brokenness. It’s that very place that gets our attention and, if we allow it, will turn our focus back to what’s most important, our relationship with the Father. From that point, we can reach up (to Him) and out again (to others)….

    Remaining thankful for what He has done and what He is doing – and thankful for your post! God bless!

  • Your blogs are just what I’ve needed in my faith journey. Todays is especially awakening to my dulled senses. Like a cup of coffee without the caffeine! HA! I home school also, and I am just in a rut with so many things lately. I am a fully committed Christian–sometimes feel as though I need to BE committed to a mental hospital (joking-sort of) because of how disappointing churches are becoming. I’m not a church hopper, but friends and I commiserate sometimes over the fact that our churches have lost focus. Something is wrong. Instead of reaching out to the world, we’ve allowed the “world” to seep into our churches–BIG TIME. Canceling the affect of the other. I want this Luke 10 journey, but how can I do this in my home, neighborhood, town? I live in the South and love the Kudzu pictured above–such a true word picture! Thank you for blessing our lives today. May God continue to inspire you!

  • Rebecca, Julie and Alida,

    I am also a homeschooling mom of 4. Well, 5 kids right now, as we have a temporary son from Africa with us as well. You all seem to ask a similar question to the one that my husband and I have been wrestling with- how do we live out Luke 10 in the middle of regular suburban American life? We are not sure, but so far, God has not called us to go somewhere else. (Believe me, we have asked!!!) Instead, He seems to be leading us to live that out here in Ohio…? ???! Anyway, as I asked myself this morning again, “why i am homeschooling?” … and then saw your comments on the blog, I would love to connect with you guys and encourage each other more in faith and motherhood. here is my email if you want to drop me a line. [email protected]

  • This is a great one, Dad! What an awesome journey, stepping into brokenness to find fullness of life thru it.

  • Seth,

    I am loving this article! This is exactly what we had revelation about in our church tonight!! I love how God confirms things in our life through other people.

    I just got back from Taiwan and will be putting up a blog about my trip soon. The seed that was planted is already starting to grow!

    Much love.

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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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