Brokenness And Jesus

My view of Brian during the message

“You see, the truth is…I was broken.

“No…………..I am broken.”

I heard my pastor say these words Sunday, and my heart shook.

Actually, I heard him say them three days before, when we worked on this message and planned the service elements. I cried then. My heart shook when I heard it on Sunday, both times.

What is it about brokenness that is so moving, so emotionally compelling?

I think it is this: that we are all broken, and that to admit it comes from such a deep, vulnerable place that we are shaken to our core when that door is cracked open. Whether we watch somebody else reveal their own deepest broken parts, or are carried along in a moment of something sacred.

Reality shows give us just a taste. Is it any wonder that we are drawn to watch the lives of “real” people unfold, warts and all? We’ll settle for the production values and the timed dramatic moments leading into commercials, because we get the small satisfaction of witnessing brokenness. Not our own, but something we can safely watch from a distance. We identify, because we know somehow it’s in us, too; but we don’t have to own it.

Every week I read the latest update of Post Secret. ( WARNING: SOME IMAGES AND / OR LANGUAGE ON POST SECRET MAY BE OFFENSIVE ) Since 2005, Frank Warren has posted secrets from random people who mail postcards displaying something that is “completely truthful and never before spoken”. Each one anonymous, they are compelling and fascinating.

Each one reveals some sort of brokenness.

I received an email today that asked, “How?” How do you embrace brokenness and live into healing? How do you get to that place of being “not broken”?

I laid in bed tonight unable to sleep, thinking about brokenness and healing and the long journey of my own life. I would say that I am “not broken” – at least not so much as I was five years ago. Or a decade ago. Or twenty years ago.

And yet I am, like Brian, still broken. There are parts and places in me that will always be selfish and manipulative. I will continue to seek out my own gain. I will try to justify bad behavior. I will be lazy and waste time and resources.

I. Am. Broken.

And yet….this is a good thing. This is where all the elements of my spirit and my nature and my self and my soul intersect, this is where a spiritual life matters. This is why following Christ makes sense.

We are broken. 

We need help.


Jesus, who walked around as a man, who – by any accounts as you read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – really got people, who wasn’t afraid to call us out for bad behavior, who offered grace and kindness, who loved the underdog…I think Jesus got our brokenness.

And then he was broken, not just in a figurative way, but literally.

I cannot claim to understand it all, but I know this: Accepting, understanding and admitting my brokenness is key to accepting, understanding and admitting that I need help. This is where it makes sense for me, even as it is supernatural and mysterious, as it requires faith. Jesus is that help. Jesus is our Savior – that word is so potent! For why have a savior if not to save?

I was a Christian for many years before I understood this. Oh, I knew the church words and how to behave and what verses to quote. But I didn’t get it. The bottom of my life had to fall out before I got it. I think that’s what it took for me, because I am selfish and manipulative and I can play a good game. I thought I had this Christian thing figured out. I believed in Jesus.

I worked at a church.

But the chickens came home to roost, and I fell flat on my face. In the muck of it all, with the taste of dirt in my mouth, I came face to face with this reality: I am broken. I need help.

These days, the solutions we jump to are Twelve Step programs; therapy; counseling. Self-help books. All good things, all things that helped me along the way as well.

But this is where Christianity has legs. This is where radical things can happen. This is where the light goes on. This is where freedom reigns. We are broken. Jesus saves us.

Sometimes, this is where it gets a little weird. Because it’s supernatural. 

But this is where it’s at. Accepting your brokenness is key, because you’ve gotta know you need something before you need it.

“Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured. This is not only clear, but it’s now—this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness.”  Romans 3.23-26, The Message

The cross represents Jesus…

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