We don’t all view broken the same way do we?
I think it might be difficult for some of us to connect to those we consider broken, if we have experienced “breaking” in only minor, or irritating ways.
For instance, if you are pitching a fit because you just broke another nail? Trust me. You and I are on opposite sides of the Looking Glass. When I say “broken” I see smoking rubble and bombed out buildings in my soul.
Yet, even I don’t “see” smoking rubble the same way a woman fleeing Syria or Iraq would, right?
Does that help?
We, meaning we in The Church, can often minimize people’s pain by our own approach to what we do not understand. My “brokenness” may be very different from what you have experienced. You can think you are aware, when perhaps you just don’t understand.
I have often heard well-meant, even heartfelt messages from those (who I believe) really did mean well, but there was a kind of authenticity or depth that was missing, simply due to a shallower understanding, or experience of the subject.
Unfortunately, what people who haven’t survived gross abuse don’t understand that they can add new wounds to the souls who have gone through such events. If you haven’t been through deep and dark water yourself, or been on intimate terms with evil, the deeply wounded and broken will know it–because a crushed heart covered in the scars has an intimate acquaintance with evil.
I also believe there is a kind of inborn intolerance, the unknowing heart will reveal. Not to intentionally, to be unkind, but perhaps simply because of ignorance.
I don’t say this to be mean, but I believe it is necessary to know, Hearts that have bled from deep wounds have an internal radar that will register any fear or shame tactics immediately.
You may not mean it to sound that way… (Or you might, depending on your motives?) either way, I just want you to understand where I’m coming from when I ask, “When have you looked into the eyes of your abuser and seen the pure pleasure that they derive from inflicting new pain? New horror? New terror? New shame? When have you heard pure hatred screaming at you; seen its face contorted in ugly rage inches from your face? When have you seen them smile as they slice and shred your soul again, intentionally carving new wounds?”
There is real evil in this world, and some of us have looked into its cold dead eyes. That is a knowledge you can’t fake, and seldom forget.
And, that experience changes how you view broken—and how you respond.
Yes, Christ and the sheer power of His love and grace poured out on His cross, overcomes evil’s power to make one cringe in terror, or run and hide. And yes, forgiveness poured from old wounds will lift the broken and crushed heart, and bring it back to resurrected Life.
But, that miracle of love and forgiveness in itself is no guarantee that evil will surrender its hold on the abuser, or that someone’s abuser will magically choose to change their ways. Abusers are also free to choose, and many choose to continue their abusive ways.
(Perhaps due to their own self-loathing?)
I don’t know. I have never understood my abusers.
What I do know is that I have been on the receiving end of my abuser’s resistant intolerance for love and their entitlement to their own cruelty toward others.
I have loved my abusers, believing that my love would change them; cause them to make changes in their behavior. It did not. Love for Christ, and our own devotion to Him, does not mean we will be able to safely reconcile those who steadfastly refuse to surrender their destructive behaviors.
Yes, we must forgive them for their past abuse. Yes, we must pray for our enemies and those who willfully choose to continue to abuse our love and trust. But, I do not believe, we have to be reconciled to continue in a close relationship or in proximity with those who embrace evil and refuse to surrender their deep desire to destroy us.
I also believe there are sincere hearts that have not bled at the hands of that kind of evil, who cannot understand this. They haven’t seen this for themselves—felt it, or heard it—and so they just don’t know.
Defending the abused
I used to succumb to critics who would loudly proclaim “broken” as being synonymous with “incapable.”
When those dear souls would criticize my tears; my fragility; my brokenness, I would listen to them; believe them. When they would criticize broken people saying, “You can’t speak, or teach, or reach, unless you toughen up, put on a good face, and smile… your gratitude will fix it all.” I would inwardly wince! As if doing all those things hadn’t ever been tried by the abused who also love God.
I think those who advocate such simplistic answers have no understanding the damage their naivete inflicts.
More than wax
A good face may seem expedient but the abused need more than a quick cosmetic fix.
I believe hurting people just want real–even if it comes with all its awkward and messy flaws.
In ancient days if a guy was making and selling pottery, and it came out of the fire with cracks, they would rub a little wax into those cracks so they wouldn’t show. (I mean, who deliberately buys a defective pot, right?)
I guess people got wise to the practice, though. (People eventually do.) So among the potters, the term “sincere” was born, meaning: Without wax.
Without wax, yeah. I’ll take my books, and sermons, and songs without all the shiny wax, please.
Just give me real.
Remember what Jesus compared the religious professionals of His day to? Vipers. White-washed tombs full of dead men’s bones. When He confronted the money-changers in His temple, He made a whip and drove them out.
That doesn’t sound like nine bars of “smile, smile, smile” does it?
No wonder they hated Him. He chose to hang with the nobodies. Sinners. Prostitutes. Tax collectors and smelly fishermen—He sought them out! The Broken. The failures. The outcasts.
The Son of God said to all the messy-misfits, “Make Mine Broken!”
The religious professionals I once knew used to help me feel real-unqualified. Told me, “I had to get my act together” if I wanted to be the real thing—before I opened my mouth. What I believe they just didn’t get? Nine miles of bad road is supposed to change you; rearrange you.
Jesus uses undone
It’s a big part His transformation process.
The wilderness-furnace is meant to remove the wax and reveal the cracks—’cause we’ve all got ’em!
I hope anyone who reads my stuff can see all my flaws. (They’re there.) Every bump on that bad road I’ve been down has done its worst. But, when you see my faults and failures, I hope you see one thing more…
I hope you see the glorious Light of Jesus shining through those broken places– because He is The One that makes all the difference–in my faults, and in yours; His love shining through all of our brokenness.
So let’s let His word to us, be our last Word: “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” 1 Corinthians 1:27 NIV
Please, when someone asks to hear your story:
- Tell them your story—your way.
- Keep it simple. Keep it real.
- People are starving out there for real.
- And that noise you hear from the sidelines selling the best wax that money can buy?
- Pray for them.
- Ask God to give them understanding hearts.
- Then go out there and let His Light and amazing grace shine, baby.
YOU were born for such a time as this!