Imagine a glass that has been broken into many pieces. The shock of the fall, the sound of the breaking, the stillness as the pieces lay scattered on the surface, and the concern that floods in afterwards.
The accusatory thoughts about being more careful.
The questions about what to do now.
Where do you start?
Should you piece this back together?
Where do you even begin to start picking up those pieces?
How do you pick them up in a way not to injure yourself in the process?
The thing is that our selves are much like pieces of glass – there are some delicate pieces and some thick pieces of people – but, like glass, we do break. Even if it is unintentionally, we fall.
And we face the same questions.
The other option would be to wrap ourselves up in a safe place – not used, not seen, no potential for damage.
But then what would be the use? Literally.
This reminds me of a favorite passage written by C.S. Lewis in , The Four Loves:
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
The thing about brokenness is that it’s never really the same again; there is an ever-lasting chip or crease or scar formed in the piecing back together.
But maybe the point is not to be the same – maybe the point is to be changed by the brokenness.
Often times, our world makes brokenness seem like a weakness.
Often times, our world makes weakness look like a bad thing.
However, it’s a paradox that weakness can be a strength. I find that those who are humbled by their weakness are often those who are the strongest of character because their identity is not wrapped up in their ability, but rather in their inability.
We can find an example of this in 2 Corinthians 12, which is often quoted by those who would wish to see weakness as a strength, but let’s be clear:
Our weakness is a strength because God has called us to be more than we are capable of without him.
Our weakness is a strength because it is in those moments that we can more clearly see not only the need for the Lord, but we can see the Lord. It is the strength of the Lord that comes through our weakness – when we are incapable or have fallen into brokenness or act from a place of brokenness, of fear or self-preservation.
And this is the ability of the weak to be strong – because their identity is not in what they do or do not do or in what others think of them – their identity is in who the Lord is and his capability.
Even through all of this, even through a healing of the broken places, it does not mean our brokenness is smoothed out. Our brokenness – our scars of healing of the places we have been broken – follow us. Years down the road, the twinge is still present – maybe not the gut wrenching hurt of the fresh broken pieces, but the ripple of the piecing back together that forever reshapes our being.
And maybe that is a good thing.