I am working my way through Henri Nouwen’s little book, Life of the Beloved. It is a tremendous read on finding our way into an understanding that needs to grip all of us as believers: we are beloved. Truly. The Father has pursued us.
As Elizabeth Elliot used to say to begin every broadcast, “You are loved with an everlasting love.”
The pursuit of that reality is hard. We don’t think we’re worthy. Nouwen uses the picture of the Lord’s Table to center on four words that help us to walk in the reality of truly being the beloved of God. The one word of the four that gripped me the most at this point is “broken.” (The four words are taken, blessed, broken, and given.)
We have to understand we all have brokenness. Nouwen bravely wades into the waters of talking about brokenness by pointing out the severe brokenness we see in our sexuality. It is a powerful statement he walks through and I can’t possibly do it justice here. It is worth the read. Suffice it to say, we all face brokenness and it manifests in the most obvious areas of our sexuality.
How we respond to our brokenness is the way we find the reality of being beloved. Too often, well, most often, we have something broken in our lives and we somehow think we deserve it. It’s just the consequences of something gone wrong and somehow we have to live with it.
Nouwen gives two suggestions for dealing with brokenness in a way that leads us further into the reality of being the beloved.
- Befriend it. Don’t shove it aside. Don’t ignore it. Draw it close. Paul rejoicing in his infirmity is an example. This is not the same as wallowing in your brokenness! If we will turn and face the brokenness, healing can flow. When we don’t run away, we find courage.
In my own life I’ve know the shame of hiding my brokenness and the freedom of facing it.
2. Put it under blessing.
We live under the curse when we say, “Well, I deserve it,” or, “Well, I’m just worthless.” When we face it and put it under the blessing of God we will find courage. We will find that living through pain becomes a test of God’s grace. Paul found God’s grace when he wasn’t delivered from his infirmity. He learned to rejoice. It was an opportunity to build character.
Brokenness is part of who we are as humans. We aren’t called to wallow in it or show it off or live in a way that makes others deal with it. But we are to understand the brokenness we have and see how the Father already knew our brokenness and loved us anyway!
We can’t hide our human brokenness from him! And he STILL embraces us.
When we will see the beauty of brokenness, we find blessing that helps us truly walk as the beloved of God.