What IS Broken?

I’m taking excerpts of my own thoughts from my personal journal, because I hadn’t originally intended to write this as a blog post. But after reading Elizabeth Esther’s riveting piece  regarding how we teach children about being broken vs. being whole, I couldn’t ignore the urge to write about it for myself.

I’ve been thinking a lot about brokeness, particularly in the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict, as well as the drug-related death of Cory Monteith. There is no denying that it exists, but how do we go about living in the face of all of it? One can only run from it or avoid it for so long, but ruminating in it doesn’t seem to help either.

There are two definitions that seem to be spoken of the most: 1.) We all have pain and problems to deal with; No one is exempt from it, regardless of how good you are at putting on a happy face about it.  2.) That we’re sinners, God hates sin, and ultimately we will never be good enough because of that. 

I’m not going to dispute whether or not sin exists, nor will I dispute that not all people are good. There clearly is evil out there, especially after realizing how many horrible events have taken place.  however, I don’t think it is as black and white as some people make it out to be. Over the years, I have come up with my own definition, which can easily be summed up in two words: hitting bottom. The point where you can no longer go on unless you get some kind of help. The point where I so often realize that I need God in my life; not just to get through the tough times, but in everything I do. 

What frequently leaves me asking questions is the way being broken is taught both inside and outside The Church. We all fall short in one way or another; we will never measure up in the sense that we will never come close to being perfect. With that being said, those imperfections should not define a person’s worth. My struggles and flaws should not be the deciding factor in whether or not I’m able to give and receive love. This is true in terms of both to/from God and people. While certain areas and relationships in my life may be faulty, that brokeness is not me. 

And that is why there is Grace; sin may be slapped over our heads or rubbed in our faces, but Grace is meant to be received with open arms. For some reason, I thought of Romans 8, and these verses in particular brought tears to my eyes: 

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of of the life-giving spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death (v. 1-2). 

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today or our worries about tomorrow—not ever the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love (v. 38).

I wish that was talked about more in church. I’m not against discussing sin and the consequences that come with poorly made decisions. But when that is the constant focus, the true message of Jesus seems to get lost in the cacophony of finger-pointing and condemnation. When we spend so much time and energy beating ourselves or each other up for wrongdoing, we leave no room for forgiveness or compassion. Therefore, we can’t live out our ultimate purpose, which is to love. 

I used to walk around telling myself, I’m a broken person and that makes me useless. I believed that I would be stuck in that place of self-deprication, never fully getting out because of all that I had done/been through. I didn’t know how to embrace the healing process, or at least do so in a way where it felt real.

Jesus came to set us free, not to hold us back, which is what we do when we think or talk about the bad things so often. There needs to be a balance; you can teach both sides of the coin, but it is a matter of how you do it. 

Which is why it bothers me when some people say/preach that there is no such thing as self-esteem or depression. When you’re constantly told that you’re first and foremost a bad person , or you don’t deserve love or acceptance, what do you think happens? Worse is when you’re told to “pray the pain away” and everything will be fine. Dealing with that level of pain takes more than just prayer or a one time conversation. These things take time, and for some it can turn out to be a life-long battle. I know that I will always have somewhat of a hard time with feeling “good enough” especially when it comes to personal relationships. But I refuse to allow that fear to keep me from having meaningful ones. 

As far as I’m concerned, self-worth needs no reasoning or justification. If anything, worth should come from being a child of God, or simply for being human. And quite frankly, I think I’m OK with that.

photo credit: Thorius via photopin cc

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