I admit it: I am broken.
There was a day I wore my brokenness as a badge. Right below a larger badge that boasted I was aware and in touch with my brokenness. Both of those badges were worn on a coat of "I've dealt with my crap" self-righteousness. I was so proud of my humble condition. Which only further compounded my brokenness.
Eventually, I shed my coat of self-righteousness along with the badges that announced my prideful humility. I put on a different coat. A "normal" coat. An "I'm ok" coat. There were initiatives to lead, objectives to accomplish and, quite frankly, people to impress. More symptoms of my brokenness.
But I didn't want to be identified by it. Maybe the truth was, I didn't want others to identify me by my brokenness.
After all, it's easier to talk about living in a "broken world," than it is to be a broken person. Living in a "broken world" keeps the brokenness "out there" somewhere. I didn't mind people knowing I was broken, as long as they knew I wasn't as broken as I had been.
As I'm writing this, my computer froze up, and I lost four paragraphs. Paragraphs I'd spent significant time wordsmithing, crafting carefully so you'd understand what I wanted to communicate. I'm irritated. I lost work. I'm frustrated. I lost time.
Or maybe I'm frustrated that I lost carefully chosen words that would have impressed you about how unimpressive I am. Maybe I'm irritated that you'll never read the brilliance I first wrote. Gosh, it was so good. (Sigh.)
As I was saying... I don't mind people knowing I'm broken, as long as they know I'm not as broken as I once was.
It's still painful to think about, but I'm mostly okay with people knowing that I suffered sexual abuse as a child. I've talked on occasion about a past season of acute depression and suicidal ideation. Those are past.
But it's quite another thing for me to talk about today. To talk about the depression I still battle - today. I feel fear in admitting that I'll likely be on medication the rest of my life in order to stay out of the black, bottomless, life-distorting, hopeless spiral of depression.
What is it I fear? Do I fear that people will interpret my admission as a message of hopelessness? Am I afraid they'll discount my faith? Do I fear they'll not accept me? Or maybe I fear they'll simply see me as broken. Still. I don't want to be broken.
But it's inescapable. I am broken. Not was broken, I am broken.
Lest you think I'm spiraling as I write this morbid confession, I do know that God, my Father, accepts me right where I am. He calls me "son." Jesus considers me his friend. The Spirit of Jesus makes his home in this broken vessel, this broken jar called me.
I believe his eternal purpose isn't to help me deny or forget my past; rather, he chooses to work through it, through me. His redepmtive work isn't about covering up my brokenness; he wants to use it. He wants to use me. Right where I am. Just as I am. Broken.
By the way, I know we're all broken. Collectively, we struggle with control issues, addictions, perfectionism, depression, shame and anxiety. Am I the only one who has tried to hide my brokenness? My guess is no. Most of us are uncomfortable and many of us are unwilling to talk about the broken parts of our story. The parts of our story that others may benefit most from hearing; the parts where God's grace may be most profoundly experienced.
What keeps us from seeing ourselves in the broken people of the Bible's stories, like Moses, Jacob, David, Peter or Paul? What if we embraced our brokenness...and the brokenness of others?
That's another post. Another day - soon.
For today, I affirm again: people matter to God. Right where they are. Following Jesus or distant from him. That includes you.