Why is it that the church is so afraid to talk about brokenness? Why do we tremble in fear at the thought of discussing anything having to do with a depth of pain or struggle? We write it off with platitudes of counterfeit care or the all-encompassing “I’ll keep you in my prayers.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there aren’t times when those utterances are genuine I just think that often times we’d rather pray for someone’s brokenness than make an effort to engage it.
This frustrates me.
I recently started facilitating a service called “Renegade Church.” It’s a place for the renegades, the outliers, and the mess makers. It was started with the vision to create a space where we talk about brokenness, a place where we aren’t afraid of mess and struggle and doing everything wrong. I wanted to create a space where people who don’t fit in the sparkling clean world of church could come and just be, where they could come and experience the greatness of Jesus without all the baggage that comes with it. Sunday morning I was discussing this service with someone who was interested in attending when an older man who was listening in to our conversation commented. “Is that really necessary?”
Is that really necessary? Is a service like that REALLY necessary?
My answer was simply, “Yes, I absolutely believe it is.”
I dream of the day when I can answer no to that question. I dream of the day when a service like that isn’t necessary because it’s common place in all churches. I yearn for a time when our timidity towards brokenness is stripped away. Unfortunately today my answer remains, “Yes. It is absolutely necessary.”
It’s necessary because brokenness is a reality. Times of struggle are a reality. I wish life in Christ meant we no longer hurt or struggle but unfortunately we are still participants in a world that has been broken by sin and brokenness is an unfortunate side effect of that reality. Though our true identity is whole and perfect in Christ our experience in this world is not always so and if we cower at the thought of discussing such a truth we, in fact, allow it to overpower us. So, in our efforts to disengage our fear, we actually empower it.
I have this thought... a “what if” you might say.
What if, we have been lied to? What if we have built our worldviews on a false idea? What if brokenness isn’t a bad thing? What if being broken is simply the beautiful beginning to being whole?
So often we think of brokenness as the ending point. We see it as the negative result of something destructive happening to a thing which was once whole. What if it’s actually the other way around? What if, in reality, we all begin broken and the true beauty of our new creation is built out of the rubble of our broken beginning. What if wholeness is the result of brokenness?
We all wish to believe that our original perfect state of wholeness is that of a ship. It sails freely and majestically on the water, and yet, it somehow ends up ship wrecked. Some fierce and unrelenting storm rages and the ship ends up shipwrecked. How easy it is for us to relate to this, that at one time all was good and now it’s not. We all vainly wish for our origin story to be birthed in the majesty of a calm sea. The truth is our origin is not in the ship but in the shipwreck. We all begin as tattered sails and rotted wood and it is only in our recognition of that fact that we can see the true beauty in the new creation the Artist has fashioned from the wreckage. See, the thing is, if we live our whole lives trying desperately to be ships then we miss out on the beauty of our true design.
If we refuse to be aware of our brokenness we will never understand the fullness of God’s grace.
I fear this is an inadequate attempt to put into words what I feel is such a significant concept to discuss. I wish I had the eloquence with which to express that which aches in my heart to be said, but then again, that might just defeat the whole point. I conclude with a desperate plea to all churches and all Christians, I beg of you do not forsake the brokenness. Refocus and retrain your mind to see the beauty in broken. Walk amongst the wreckage with the Artist and watch as all things are made new.