I’ve blogged before in this space about my growing realization of my sin. It seems to be my current season in my faith journey; more than ever, I’m aware of my sinfulness and of how my own efforts to overcome it aren’t very fruitful. It’s been a few months since I first wrote about this discovery and my awareness of my sin hasn’t shrunk. If anything, it’s deepened. Just when I thought I couldn’t see my darkness any more clearly, I look into myself and see an even greater abyss of sin, inconsistency, selfishness, and weakness. That’s what I get for asking Jesus to make me more humble, I guess. So if you want to grow in humility, ask the Lord for help, but be warned that it’ll hurt.
But unlike a few months ago, I’m no longer discouraged by it. It doesn’t frighten me. I’ve actually found it to be a strange source of mercy, hope, and comfort.
The darkness I’ve been finding in myself now goes beyond just my failure to do good to other people, which is what I saw the most clearly when I started to become so painfully aware of my sinfulness. I’m also seeing more than ever how often I fail at fulfilling the promises I make during my morning offering—promises to be merciful to others in small ways and to trust in Jesus. I see how much unresolved pain and guilt I still carry from my past experience of desolation, even though I thought I had let them go for good. I see how many lies I continue to believe about myself, my strengths, and my gifts, and how much those things creep into my sense of worth and into my work in ministry.
I went through most of my life thinking that brokenness was reserved for people who had been outright told that they’re worthless, or for people who had fractured childhoods and home lives, people who battled depression or addiction, or people who just couldn’t get away from heartbreak. I’ve faced none of those things, but here I am, in a season of my life where all I can really see are my faults, my sins, my hurts, and all the ways I could stand to be better. Brokenness doesn’t discriminate. It’s something that lives in all of us, fallen and imperfect as we are. It just shows itself in different ways and in different seasons.
And we live in a world that wants to sweep brokenness under the rug, to deny that it exists or to think that it’s a shameful thing, something that needs to be quickly fixed. But that’s not how I feel like I’m being called to deal with it. Jesus is inviting me not to flee from my brokenness, but to sit with it, to stare down its deep, dark eyes, and even to accept it as a gift. Yes, a gift. Because it is only by letting Jesus break us open, only by letting Him bring our deepest wounds and needs to the surface like nerve endings to open air, where they sting the most, can we know not just the extent of our pain, but how deep our need is for Him. We’re stubborn creatures, fiercely independent to a fault. And sometimes the only way that God can get through to us is to break our pride and reveal our weakness.
But we should never, as I’m learning, let our brokenness scare us or discourage us. Rather, we should enter deeply into it, not alone, but with the light of Christ’s love. Christ loves to meet us in our darkness, because that’s often the place where we are forced to learn trust in Him and not in ourselves. And ultimately, we should learn to cling to and even love our brokenness. Because if we were perfect, what need would we have for Christ?