It’s not our perfection that draws others – it’s our brokenness. And how we respond to brokenness.
I think now with a rueful grin at the interactions between one set of close neighbors and our children during their growing up years. There were times the little tykes (and not so little) wandered over there uninvited, times things got used and broken, times of high stress—such as the times they asked the neighbors for money or told them some family secrets. Even though the neighbors didn’t appreciate all the interactions, in the end they said we were their special neighbors and loved us despite it all.
We often thought how much better it would be if our household was more put together, more normal, better disciplined. And yet our brokenness drew them and us together.
We often hear from adults that when they were young their parents were most concerned with how things appeared. This especially goes for children of leaders and one can, in a sense, sympathize with the side effects of living in a fishbowl. As long as you combed your hair in a certain way, wore the right clothes, and didn’t act out, everything was ok. Turns out these parents never really connected with their children at a heart level. They also left their children with an unspoken message that it’s best to hide the ugly, the broken, and the real. Today it’s difficult for these individuals to become vulnerable and to reveal their true selves.
Jesus came for the brokenhearted. He ate with the broken, walked with the broken, loved the broken … and in a sense became broken himself.
If we tell someone their issues are only spiritual in nature, we can then walk away, piously rubbing our hands together – because now it’s between them and God. We can’t help really because it’s their problem. We’ll just check in later … have you met God yet? Have you forgiven? Have you made those changes?
But wait a minute! Did they see God in you? Feel Jesus in you? Did you take them by the hand and say let’s go, I’ll sit and listen, I’ll walk with you, let’s go get some help.
Here’s a real-life example. A young man was caught in a web of addiction. The home church community could have said, you have a spiritual problem and need to meet God. And in part, they would have been correct. Addiction is a spiritual problem and the addict will need to meet God at some point in order to be successful. But this church group went beyond mere words of advice. The community rallied around this young man, collected money to pay for rehab, and one or more of the brethren took him under their wings and drove him a few thousand miles to a center that could help him. The young man’s brokenness drew them all together as a community and blessed their souls. While at the rehab center this young man also surrendered his life to God, a true miracle that may not have happened if the community had not stepped into his brokenness.
Another example is our own experience. When we had given up seeking more help for our daughter, our extended family rallied around and said, you’re not finished yet. They found a place that looked promising and provided the ways and means for us to go. This was a critical juncture in our lives, providing her and us with tools for dealing with the challenges she faced. Our need and our daughter’s brokenness elicited compassion and an outpouring of support.
These examples, I believe, show how Jesus would respond to brokenness.
Admitting to and expressing our brokenness only serves to draw us closer together. Our brokenness is often a liar, telling us that if we become vulnerable and show people the real us, they will no longer like us, speak to us, or associate with us. But in reality, the opposite happens. Revealing the depths of our soul only binds hearts closer. The thing we fear the most, in the end, is what fuels and fosters connection and empathy.
May our brokenness lead to openness. And openness to healing and wholeness.