On being broken

It’s possible to feel so close to God and so broken at the same time.

Ask me how I know?

I spent most of the middle half of the year feeling pretty dang broken, and not knowing how to fix it. I tried all the old things. The surrendering. The pursuing purpose. Repentance. Asking for God’s help. I had intensely clarifying and Holy moments with God, and tremendous growth in so many areas, in ways I never dreamed,

but He never took the aching brokenness out of my chest.

I learned to just accept it. I learned how to pray through it. I knew that, in light of eternity, a few decades of pain would be nothing. An eternity with God would be worth suffering (-Jennie Allen, Anything), but what do you do when eternity seems a very long way away?

Ann Voskamp wrote it. How a heart can break in a whole new way, and you can’t figure out how to put it together…and maybe that was kind of the point. Maybe the love can get into a heart broke open more easily. And maybe our brokenness can actually make abundance if we live broken and given.

I started walking the half-mile circle of my neighborhood. It just felt like a good idea. It’s  easier for me to connect with God sometimes when I’m walking. For weeks, as soon as I got home from work, I walked the half-mile loop of my neighborhood. I praised. I felt close. I felt joy. I felt broken. When I was done, I felt fragile joy, but there was always an undercurrent of brokenness and pain. First I started with one lap. Then four, and yeah,

When you start praying in the Spirit, the Spirit teaches you how to pray.

I started thanking God for being greater than brokenness. Higher than powers and principalities. So big that those things are so little to Him, so easy to fix. And it was the time He chose. He came as a gentle vision. A giant hand reaching down from the right upper quadrant of blue sky, and the gentle cupping that lifted me up from the brown muck that was bubbling up and twirling tendrils below me.

And the words Joy is My hand reaching down. My hand is always reaching down.

Something broke in me that day, and there was joy without pain. Because if joy is really God’s hand reaching down, and His hand is always reaching down, doesn’t that mean that there’s always joy…even in the midst of pain? The word that I had expected to release about striving in a group setting turned into a prayer on brokenness. I knew that was what God wanted to have me say.

I often don’t notice God’s healing until a few days later, when I notice that I feel better and look back to find the moment or prayer when things changed. I noticed it later that night. Joy without the undercurrent of pain. Joy because of God’s hand breaking brokenness.

I had started reading Ezekiel, because who doesn’t need a reminder that God can raise us up. And the next day, I read this:

“And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of my head, and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and heaven, and brought me in the visions of God and Jerusalem…”

There was giddy awe. My vision was scriptural? That hand stretching from the sky in the time of Ezekiel still stretches down and out for us today? God is still who He always was. He does what He’s always done. He still reaches down and pulls us up.

Maybe all of that is similar to when I reduce with cooking. You put wine and water and butter and broth and herbs in a saucepan, and crank up the heat. You let it simmer and boil to intensify and concentrate the flavors. It reduces the ingredients to their essence.

I think God does that with me. He boils my thoughts down until I arrive at the kernel of wisdom that He wanted to teach me all along. And you know what? The end result, that one word, is totally worth it. Even if God hadn’t reached down, He showed me through the last 6 months how he can bless us and love us and teach us in the midst of our brokenness. He doesn’t love us any less. I don’t need to fear my own breaking.

Maybe the deep feelers can be the deep healers. Maybe those who have been burned know how to best care for wounds. Maybe the deep feelers and deep thinkers and those who need to process thoughts more often…go through that process often. And what diamond ever said that it wanted to go back to being coal? What flower would rather be a seed? What sauce would rather be watery and diluted?

God knows what He’s doing. He knows where all the pieces of us are, and He knows where there are pieces that we never even knew about before. He can always put the pieces of us back together, with hand stretching down from heaven…but first must come the breaking.



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