The Blessing of Brokenness

One of the consequences of the fall is that shame makes us hide. It is the natural outcome of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When we sexually act out, instead of turning to the Father and asking for help we run 180 degrees in the opposite direction. Moving out of the light to conceal our secret into the darkness to hide our shame and sin. We put on our fig leaves and hide our nakedness.

We prefer the wilderness instead of remaining in the garden in His Presence. We know we have sinned and have done wrong and our first impulse is to hide. That is what shame makes us feel. We judge and condemn ourselves.

Then there is the self-talk: you did it again, how could you? Was it worth it, the bad feeling in the pit of our stomach? How dare you ask for forgiveness again? We can get depressed. We beat ourselves up. Often many of us will essentially voluntarily isolate ourselves feeling unworthy and deserving of banishment. Our sex drive seems impossible to overcome. As rebellious reprobates, we deserve judgment and punishment for our failings and shortcomings. So we feel we have no other choice but to do what Adam and Eve did, we’re naked so we hide and cover ourselves. We stay exiled, self-imposed. Because of our shame we feel we have no other place to turn.

Psalm 52:17 says: ‘the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.’ NIV

On the other hand what if we are posing that we are all just fine? Yet I do not think that that front will allow us to benefit in our desire to stay sober.

There is a story that I think explains brokenness very well. There was a young priest who was about to lift the communion cup up and bless the cup. The cup was made of choice crystal and very perfect. Just when he lifted up the cup it slipped out of his hand and broke in a million pieces all over the floor. He looked up at the senior priest thinking that he would be ridiculed and instead the senior priest said, ‘I never knew there were so many beautiful pieces to reflect the light until the cup was broken. How marvelous and beautiful are all the pieces when the light shines on them!’ It is the light that shines though our brokenness that is so beautiful. For that light is the Lord. What we fear is to be broken or be seen as broken but as the story illustrates it is in our brokenness and non-posing state that the true light of Christ can shine in and make our brokenness beautiful. The addict has to see her/his brokenness if they are to over- come one of the major obstacles in recovery.

George MacDonald says: “Gather my broken fragments to a whole. Let mine be a merry, all-receiving heart,
but make it a whole, with light in every part.”

John Eldredge in Wild at Heart comments, “But you can’t do this at a distance; you can’t ask Christ to come into your wound while you remain far from it. You have to go there with him.”  We are in pain and are broken. Its ok to be broken, it is in our brokenness that we can bring it to the Lord and have His touch and light heal and bring hope to our broken heart.

I have resisted for years to allow myself to experience the pain of brokenness but this last year I experienced many things that suggested I was not in control of my life and that the world I lived in was broken including me. As long as I tried to hold on and make it work I would get depressed, tired, a bit moody and self absorbed–I did not want people to see me in pain.

Finally in May of 2002 my cup was smashed on the ground, I never thought that with so many pieces all over the place that order or hope would come. But yet to my surprise God used this brokenness to show me how much He really loved me (and he’ll do the same for you.) After a very painful divorce and relocation God used His church to show me love when I had nothing to give. It came down to me and my God. I have had friends support me and give me space to heal and grow. Then I received encouragement from pastors/ministers, allowing my life to be touched by others. Then my own practice began to pick up, and finally after time, God even allowed me to meet the most beautiful woman I have ever met. It has been a joy to be in relationship with Amy and not be afraid of the past, able to give love to her from a place of strength and not need. I have love that I can share with her and others because my brokenness allowed for God to fill me with Him. She and others have seen me for who I am. My brokenness has allowed me to be made whole–to begin healing, not by me, but the Lord. The very thing that I thought would destroy and break me God has used to bless me. This is truly the best time I have been experiencing in my life. Even though there was a period of six months of deep pain, God has taken me and allowed me to experience brokenness, to lose everything that I thought would give me peace. And He replaced that with Him. Now He is even giving me the desires of my heart. He will for you too.

May we not see our brokenness as a road block to healing and wholeness but as a door to enter, to begin that wonderful journey where we experience the love that God has for all of us. May we allow him to heal our hearts. Heal and reflect His love.

For more help, see Every Man’s Battle or call 1800-NEW-LIFE (639-5433) for more information

Shame On Me

shame

“Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” – Job 42:6

In January of 1984, I had my crises of truth. I was a Christian who had back-slidden into destructive sexual behaviors, and the conflict between my sexual and spiritual desires reached its peak. That was the beginning of my recovery and oddly enough, the darkest time of my life. All my porn had to go, of course. I had my cable service turned off, canceled my subscriptions to erotic publications and relocated to another city.

Only then did it hit me that I’d ruined everything good I had been given. By indulging in my sins, I had abandoned a fruitful ministry, a loving family, great potential – all wasted in a public, shameful way. The more I thought about it, the more I sank into a bottomless disgust with myself. I began sleeping through the days, then waking up horrified at myself, remembering what I’d done, each time seeing it in a worse light. I would cry, thrashing around in my bed in fits of weeping and moaning.

The poet Robert Bly wrote: ‘Where a man’s wound is, there he finds his genius.’

As part of my ‘penance’, I called all my old friends to apologize and to let them know that I had repented.  I could only find a few, but one of them permanently interrupted the ‘I Hate Joe’ cycle I had gotten myself into. When I got him on the phone and told him what was happening with me, the dam burst and I poured out my guilt, the miserable state I was in, and my fear that there was no future for me.  ‘Well, Joe’, he said, ‘if banging your head into the wall is going to build up the Body of Christ, please keep doing it. But if it won’t, don’t you think all this energy you’re putting into self-pity could be put into doing something useful with what’s left of your life?’ That shut me up. ‘And who knows’ he continued ‘but someday, after you get through all this, you might have learned something worth passing on?’

I had been drowning in shame, beating myself up but accomplishing nothing worthwhile in the process. That night I decided to find something more useful to do with my pain. Oddly enough, it was that very pain which led me into my own counseling, and then into a desire to become a trained counselor, and finally into the opportunity to work with hundreds of other men who’d made mistakes so similar to my own.

Be sorry for your sin, by all means. But don’t wallow in shame. Instead, take the time to prayerfully consider how God can convert your worst failures into useful opportunities. You just might be amazed at the genius lurking behind the wound.

For more information on Every Man’s Battle, please call 1800-NEW-LIFE (639-5433)

Unleashing Samson

He was strong and impressive; a clever Nazarite who could spin riddles, destroy lions bare-handed and conquer a thousand men with a donkey’s jawbone. He was Samson, and he was not to be messed with. Yet this man of strength eventually found himself tied up, blinded and put to work at a grindstone like a common mule. What happened? Compromise. Samson was bound by a vow to abstain from drinking wine, eating unclean meat, and cutting his hair.

So long as he was faithful to this vow of separation, he retained his strength. But when presented with an aggressive beauty named Delilah, he broke his vow and integrity, never imagining the nightmare a simple compromise would bring. As soon as he foolishly told Delilah the secret of his strength, she betrayed him to the Philistines, who immediately tied him up, gouged out his eyes, and put him to hard labor.

Strength came from faithfulness to God’s design of separation. Your own Delilah doesn’t care any more about you than Samson’s did. Whatever your weakness may be ‘ pornography, commercial sex, affairs or anonymous encounters ‘ you can be sure it will only weaken and betray you. Look what it’s done so far. Look at how it’s affected your confidence, your judgment, your general ability to perform. Be honest about this. Has sexual sin done anything for you, other than to weaken and limit you?

Compromise came from breaking from God’s design and his own integrity. That need not be the end of your story. When Samson allowed his hair to grow back, his strength returned. And with it came a determination to once and for all destroy the enemies who had so brutally kept him from his potential. If his compromise mirrors your own, take heart. Because his final victory can mirror yours as well. I hope you’ll begin by recognizing that, apart from a consecrated relationship with God, you’re very much like Samson at his weakest. But in returning to Him through repentance and a commitment to knowing Him and His will for you, your spiritual and emotional potential will return as surely as Samson’s hair grew back.

Unleashing Samson involved repenting and waiting for his power to return.
Unleashing Samson was as simple as repenting and waiting for his power to return. So take heart if you’ve allowed yourself to become a compromised man. Your compromise has been foolish and destructive,yes, but your potential, like Samson’s is still waiting to be unleashed.

For more information on Every Man’s Battle call 1800-NEW-LIFE (639-5433) or consider attending one of our Weekend Workshops.