I used to drive home each day from work seeing a billboard advertisement for a dentist office. The advertisement claimed that coming to see them for dental work is not like going to the dentist at all.
While I appreciated their desire to lessen the association of pain with regular checkups at the dentist, I see this promise and desire span broader and deeper through many areas of life.
The In-Between Places
So often we want to skip out on the hard stuff in life. We know where we want to be – on the other side of it – but we do not want to acknowledge the actual feeling as we proceed through it.
We have run so far away that it is as if we do not know what to do with the in-between places, especially relating to pain but equally relatable to boredom or almost any other emotion labeled uncomfortable or unwanted, including brokenness.
We eagerly saturate the process with distractions and call this good because we think it makes it easier; truthfully, it makes us ignorant and numb.
I know this because I am the one running through the hot coals of brokenness claiming everything is good as my feet sear with pain at each step.
Beauty in the Brokenness
In part, this is because I honestly see the beauty in the brokenness – it is not a lack of sincerity. I can see the working out of my faith in the places that hurt.
But brokenness has sharp edges that should be attended to lest they pierce us when we ignorantly try to run through the pain.
The fact that life is hard does not negate that it is full of goodness. And all of the goodness does not negate the fact that life is hard.
I propose that these are intertwined rather than on opposite ends of a spectrum; both are needed for life to be lived with any amount of sincere joy.
But none of that means it is easy.
Sometimes I need to sit in the space with what is available.
Sometimes what is available is brokenness.
Sometimes what is available is tiredness.
Sometimes that space is full of awkwardness.
Sometimes it is full of anger or hurt.
Sometimes it is just full.
And sometimes it is empty.
And this is OK.
It is OK to sit there. It is OK to just be there.
Sitting Amongst the Brokenness
I am by no means casting my joys aside. I can sit amongst the brokenness resting in a peace that does not equate to the place. I can honestly speak of joy while also talking about heartache.The heartache does not drive the joy away; rather, it increases it. Click To Tweet
I can sing songs of joy with tears in my eyes. I can wait patiently for the promise of goodness because my hope lies in the Lord and not in circumstances. I can trust that the Lord is good – I can even taste it – when situations are full of frustration.
When I stop trying to fill the spaces that are uncomfortable, whether that is anger or silence or brokenness, using habits of Facebook or exercise or friends, I can see not only what is broken but also the goodness. And it is by stopping that I can see the movings of the Lord; his response to my need of him in these places.
That is the goodness. That is the joy. That as I sit in these hard places, I can invite the Lord there with me and rest in him as I sit in the momentary place of difficulty.
Leading Others in Brokeness
But what happens when I am broken and I have to attend to others, to lead them, to comfort them, to speak hope and truth and grace?
How come we believe we are less effective when we are in seasons of brokenness?
It is in the brokenness that we get to glimpse scripture as alive and active when we read that his grace is sufficient and how his strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Do we believe that? Or do we just like how it sounds?
Looking back, the seasons of brokenness where I am most convinced of my own need of God are the most beautiful of seasons.
Looking around, it is those who speak from brokenness that I want to follow.
There appears to be something sacred about the way people see their need for God to be God and then give him the space to do just that. There is something magnificent when others acknowledge their limitations of brokenness and the body gets to work together to fulfill what the Lord has called us to be and do; to be the church.
We are not less because we are broken. God becomes more real to us and gets glory in our brokenness. And there is no better place from which to lead and to call others into.
Andrea Gaston received her Master of Arts in Counseling and spent several years as a professional counselor as well as an adviser position in higher education before becoming involved with women’s ministry, which led to a focus in college ministry. In the Summer of 2016, Andrea moved from Georgia to Iowa to pursue the opportunity of working specifically in college ministry. She practices working out the rambling thoughts in her head through writing in THE MESSY PLACES OF GRACE blog.