Monday, August 22, 2011

Beyond Broken

Broken. We hear this word a lot in Christian circles (and I have certainly used it many times myself) to describe the general state of humanity. But as I was thinking about this word recently, I wondered if perhaps it is too mild. It almost feels as though it has become a cutesy Christianese way of saying, “Yeah, we all have a few flaws.” And the truth is, the state of our souls without Christ is far beyond having a flaw or two. There are parts within us that are completely shattered, pieces of us that are in an unrecognizable state of disrepair.

And we so often try to put ourselves back together, perhaps because we don’t realize the depth of brokenness we are dealing with– or, conversely, perhaps because we do realize and we desperately want to hide it or fix it. But we can’t do it, and I think many times we end up turning to addiction, coping mechanisms, and self-medication in an attempt to repair with our own hands something that is far beyond our ability to repair.

And through it all, God loves us. At church we sing a song that says, “You see the depths of my heart and you love me the same.” God sees so clearly the shattered, broken, ugly mess– and he loves us. He wants us to give it all to him, and he wants us to see his mark on our hearts and souls, to see that we are his beloved. He may not repair us the way we hope he will. Faith in God is not merely a means of self-improvement or another coping mechanism. Some of us will always struggle with those messed-up parts of ourselves. The difference is, we are not defined by them. We are new creations, defined by God and the love and grace he gives us. We are redeemed.

I have been praying that other people will see God reflected in me. And yet the most interesting thing has been happening– I’ve noticed that I am seeing God reflected in others. When I look at a person, even their most shattered parts, I see someone who is precious in God’s sight, someone he created, someone he loves and cherishes. He sees the depths of their hearts too, and he loves them the same. It’s a lot harder to react to people with judgment and negativity when I realize that.

I feel as though God is giving me a new sense of compassion for people, allowing me to get a glimpse of others through his eyes. In fact, I wonder if this is a necessary prerequisite to people seeing God’s love and grace reflected in me. After all, how accurately can I show the love and grace of God to others if I do not first see them through the compassionate eyes with which God sees them?
We are all made out of shipwrecks, every single board
Washed and bound like crooked teeth on these rocky shores.
So come on and let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief,
And fold our lives like crashing waves and run up on this beach,
Come on and sew us together.

-Listener, “Wooden Heart”

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