My grandson and I were seated at a well-worn picnic table, having lunch with a hundred people from all over the country who had come to his Haiti home for a week of ministry. Josiah had just turned eight months old and I was holding him so his mama could eat without his cuteness squirming in her lap and grabbing at her plate.
I placed him beside me on the bench, wrapped my arm around his chest to keep him safe, and watched as he became engrossed with knotholes in the wood between his chubby little legs and bare toes. He traced the first one he found over and over and I felt I literally could see his little brain wheels turning as he absorbed the feel and pattern. Then he discovered another one on the edge of the bench that had a tiny hole in it where his fingertip would fit. He was transfixed. For the next 10 minutes we stayed still, me entranced with him, and him entranced with the damaged knothole.
I saw a broken bench; he saw beauty.
In that little episode with baby fingers and tiny knotholes, I was reminded that there is so much beauty in the broken. In what is broken in us, and in the world around us.
We are all broken in a million different ways. We’ve been victimized by others and made bad choices on our own. Shame, heartache, grief, guilt … each purposes to tear holes in our hearts and minds. We’ve failed at many things we’ve tried. We’ve been wounded, and wounded others.
Each rend of our heart produces a crack in our soul, and all those little cracks link their searing tentacles and settle in our psyche to tell us lies about what we’re worth.
Some days, we feel about as worthless as a broken bench.
“The highways lie waste; the traveler ceases. Covenants are broken; cities are despised; there is no regard for man,” the Bible tells us in Isaiah 33:8. Is it any wonder we look inward and outward and see brokenness everywhere, and wonder how on earth any of it could ever be repaired?
I’ve been broken way too many times. As a child by people who were supposed to love me well and couldn’t. By boys and men and friends. By losing a baby to miscarriage and losing my husband to suicide. By rejection and sorrow and shame. By allowing myself to believe the lies of others instead of the truth of the One who loves me purely.
“For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water,” proclaims Jeremiah 2:13. That’s me, a broken cistern, leaking the parts of me I despise while I long to patch the cracks and pour out only beauty instead.
I share a sense of inner brokenness with many of my friends. We talk about it, administer healing to each other in the form of empathy, prayer, and counseling. But the best thing we can do for each other is point our hearts back to the one perfect example of beauty in the broken—Jesus.
Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
(Isaiah 53:1-5, ESV)
And with His wounds, we are healed.
Jesus was broken over and over during His three years of ministry on earth. At first, His own family did not believe Him and thought He was crazy. His disciples, who gave up jobs and homes and loved ones to follow Him, couldn’t even stay awake and pray for Him the one, crucial time He begged them. One of them, a man He considered a brother and friend, betrayed Him for a small amount of money, handing Him over to the Romans for crucifixion.
His body was broken in multiple and horrific ways as He made His way to the cross on our behalf. And, then, “He poured out his soul to death” (Isaiah 53:12).
And we must pour out our broken souls in gratitude.
Because the sinners that Christ died for are the same ones He lives for today, broken people like you and me. He knows what it feels like to be broken, to have a broken heart and a broken body.
He allowed Himself to be broken by broken people just like us.
As we approach each day, we need to be reminded not to get caught up in our brokenness. Instead, we ought stay entranced with the beauty of Jesus, His love for us, and the beauty He sees in us, just as Josiah was entranced with the beauty he saw in the broken bench. Gratitude and awe can heal our brokenness. It might happen only one tiny crack at a time and it will leave faint scars, but those are beautiful reminders of the repair work of a Holy and loving God.
Who loves us broken.
You’ll also like You Are Loved More Than You Know, Battered Faith: Holding on to Hope Even When You Struggle, and The Floods Are Gonna Come