Grace is a young woman who has courageously learned to face her challenges of life head-on. Writing a blog is one way she shares about her everyday struggles. Check it out: gracengrit.blog. Thank you, Grace, for allowing Journey to tap into your wisdom and also for being willing to provide a glimpse into your world. You are a warrior. A stand-out. A model. A pioneer. A woman of God.
Chapter Seven: How in the World Do We Live With a Broken Heart?
“Brokenness happens in a soul so the power of God can happen in a soul.” –Ann Voskamp.
Today I want to take a different direction with this blog post. I want to take a break from sharing my health story & instead focus on a topic God has been very clearly teaching me about the past few months. You see, there’s a burning question that has been pressing the very core of my soul with an undeniable weight & force: How in the world do we live with a broken heart?
More eloquently put by Ann Voskamp, “what in God’s holy name do you do when it feels like you’re broken & cut up, & love has failed, & you’ve failed, & you feel like Somebody’s love has failed you?”
It took me a long time to admit to myself that I am simply broken; to actually say those words out-loud to myself & to others. Why? Because I feel like being broken is one of the most shameful feelings to experience, especially in the Christian world. In fact, we live in a world that sees broken things of no value. The concept of being broken is something that paralyzes me with fear. It is represented as shame & weakness & mediocracy. It is a state Satan tells us, “a good Christian would never be in.”
So what do we do? We hide. We hide in our distractions, our houses, our social media pages. But most of all, we hide from God. But it shouldn’t have to be this way. If we are being completely raw & honest, who doesn’t know what it feels like (or will someday) to flash a big, fake smile & utter, “I’m okay,” when you really, truly aren’t. Who doesn’t know what it feels like (or will someday) to act like you don’t have a care in the world…all the while feeling the pain suffocate you.
So how in the world do we live with a broken heart?
I was absently scrolling through Instagram one evening (I know, such a typical young adult) when a quote gave me pause. “The very thing we are afraid of, our brokenness, is the door to our Father’s heart.” –Paul Miller
Um, what? Lol, Paul Miller. You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about here. Brokenness is bad. Brokenness is humiliating. Brokenness is weakness.
Oh, how wrong I was.
I couldn’t get the quote out of my head. It refused to be silenced & demanded to be heard. So, a week after seeing that quote, I got curious & decided to begin reading a book I’d put off for awhile: The Broken Way. I mustered up every ounce of courage I could, opened it up to the first page, & my mouth fell open as I read the opening quote:
“The very thing we are afraid of, our brokenness, is the door to our Father’s heart.”
Alrighty then. God was clearly trying to tell me something. So I began to read, & as I read, God began to answer my question through Ann Voskamp: “How in the world do we live with a broken heart?” Ann presented thoughts & ideas completely foreign to me.
What if brokenness isn’t something we should fear? What if it isn’t actually something to be ashamed of? What if brokenness is the beginning to finding healing? What if….the broken way is a way to allow the abundance of God in? Intrigued, I went back in my journal & found an entry from about six months ago—another quote by none other than Ann Voskamp:
“Hannah tasted the tears of infertility. Elijah howled for God to take his life. David asked his soul a thousand times why it was so downcast. God does great things through the greatly wounded. God sees the broken as the best & the best in the broken. He calls the wounded to be world changers.”
This makes me think about Jeremiah, Habakkuk, & Job…three of the highly respected followers of God in the Christian realm & the fact they too were broken. They lamented & felt fear & cried out to God in complete abandon. But God didn’t criticize them for that. It didn’t mean their faith was automatically small. It didn’t mean they had failed. It didn’t make them become permanently weak people. In fact, all of these listed & more came out of their brokenness & trials stronger & more joyful than ever in Christ. They weren’t defined by their weakest moments. They weren’t defined by their brokenness.
So why was I calling myself all these things? Why did I believe my situation was so much drastically different than theirs? Why didn’t I feel the victory applied to me? Why was I holding myself to a literally impossible standard? What if bad brokenness is healed by good brokenness? What if only the wounds of God can heal our wounds? Our suffering healed by His?
For by His wounds we are healed.
Just when I think it can’t get any more life-changing than this, Ann puts another, even more profound thought into my head: “We are made in the image of God & wasn’t His heart made to be broken too?” In fact, isn’t brokenness the very heart of the gospel? Jesus’s body was broken on the cross for our sins. Jesus’s heart was broken as He cried out, “My God, My God why have You forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46)
But what did Jesus do?? Jesus doesn’t defend Himself or hide His brokenness with distractions or cower in shame….He accepts His breaking as abundance. Through His very breaking, He gives us life. In fact, the very heart of Christianity, communion, is the very result of His breaking. “& He took bread, gave thanks & broke it, & gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:19-20).
He took the bread, His body, & broke it. He took the cup, His blood, & poured it out.
Bad brokenness is healed by His good brokenness.
“Somehow the miracle of communion…oneness, wholeness, abundance…it happens in the exact opposite…in the breaking & the giving. Somehow, the miracle, the intimacy of communion comes through brokenness.” -Voskamp
The miracle happens in the breaking. So today, I’m just going to say it: I am broken & I am okay with that. God has shown me brokenness isn’t shameful, it isn’t a mark of weakness; it isn’t an automatic stamp of failure in your Christian walk. Brokenness is surrender, it is a shattering of my will, it is humility, it is abundance. God is breaking me so the power of Christ may be seen through me. He is breaking me to bring me closer to His heart. He is breaking me to make all things new.
“Because Jesus, with His pierced side, is always on the side of the broken. Jesus always moves into places moved with grief. Jesus always seeks out where the suffering is & that’s where Jesus stays. The wound in His side proves that Jesus is always on the side of the busted, broken, suffering, & wounded.
So how in the world do we live with a broken heart?
I think I still have a little ways to go before I have all the answers. Who knows, I probably won’t get the answer in its entirety until I get to heaven someday. But for now, He has granted me the perfect response. He has shown me the miracle happens in the breaking. So I am going to embrace the privilege of walking with Him in the Broken Way.
Psalm 51:7, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”