For a couple of years, "finding beauty in brokenness" has been my tagline, my motto. The problem with brokenness is that some people identify with it while others find it offensive.
Much of my writing is about disability, and I can understand how someone unfamiliar with my writing would mistakenly think I am referring to people with disabilities. So let me make something very clear: I am not talking about people with disabilities. I am actually talking about myself. So in order to be more clear, I have now made the sentiment say "finding beauty in my brokenness."
I do not think people with disabilities are broken. To say that would imply I think they need healing. If you have read enough of my posts, you know I do not believe that people with disabilities need healing, and one of my greatest passions is to help the church embrace disability and move past the idea of healing.
So why, exactly, do I talk about brokenness? More than a wife, a mother, a disability advocate, a friend and a daughter, I am first of all a child of God. I belong to Him completely. This is my faith, the foundation of my beliefs, of my being, of my actions, of my life. All of it revolves around a personal God that loves me despite the fact that, yes, I am broken. A God who pours out His grace and mercy even when I do not deserve it. A God who saved me from my sins, from a heart that is capable of so much selfishness, jealousy, anger, bitterness and meanness. I am not just imperfect or flawed—I am broken! And I offer all of it to God to use, to mend, to transform. "Take these broken pieces, Lord. They are Yours. Use me any way You want."
"God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever." —Vance Havner
Life is messy. In the middle of the joy, celebration and goodness of life, there are strokes of pain, loss, heartache, foolish choices, unrealized dreams and wrecked relationships. I call this brokenness. And this is life. Broken is real, and there is beauty in brokenness!
"It is the pain we walk through that defines the women we are. ... It hones the difference we make. It isn't something that we achieve by strength and character and virtue and strength and savvy. It is something we receive with open hands by God's grace. And that happens most when we feel broken and humbled and empty and totally inadequate—and we make that choice to trust that God will make His difference in us and through us, right in the midst of our brokenness." —Leslie Parrott, You Matter More Than You Think: What a Woman Needs to Know about the Difference She Makes
I find it incredibly encouraging to know that despite my brokenness, God can work in me and through me. And I hope you find encouragement in that too—that God is the God of the weak, of the weary, of the lost, of the broken.
"God seems to prefer to minister through me more out of my brokenness than through my giftedness. My humanity, as distasteful as it can sometimes be, allows Him room to work in me and show that 'we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us' (2 Cor. 4:7, NIV)." —Dan Gilliam
So what, exactly, do I think about brokenness? Well, from a spiritual perspective, as I have just shared, I do believe we are all broken: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).
I know talking about brokenness and sin are not popular things to talk about. Believe me, I have been criticized over this more than anything else. But this is the foundation of my faith. I am a sinner in need of a Savior, and Jesus offered the ultimate sacrifice to pay for my sin. This is a gift from God, and thanks to that loving sacrifice, I can have a personal relationship with God.
But there is more to my story of brokenness. You see, when I was 26 years old, I believed I lived a pretty good life. I was a good person; I was a pastor's wife. Sure, I knew I needed God in my life, and I had already given my life to Him. But ultimately, I believed I was "good," and I thought I had life figured out.
"The worst kind of brokenness is the kind that you don't know you have." —Amy Neftzger, The Orphanage of Miracles
Then, when my second daughter was born with Down syndrome, she challenged what I viewed as perfect, worthy, important and valuable in life. I had received her as a broken baby, only to quickly recognize that I was the broken one. The treasures I have discovered along the way are not found in strength, performance, eloquence, character or confidence. They are found in brokenness, where beauty is found unexpectedly as a result of God's love and compassion transforming my life. Until this time in my life, I had not see my own brokenness. I had not come face to face with it.
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