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Beautifully Broken

Updated: May 15

I used to think I knew what breaking met. I thought I was ready to be shattered and broken before Jesus so His glory could shine through my weakness. I even thought I had experienced it before and done semi well in sharing a vulnerable version of what I felt was worthy to display in my weakened state. But I really had no idea what shattered was. I had no clue what truly allowing our weaknesses to become a weapon for God's glory even looked like. Not until God broke every last part of me, stripping me from any hope of sharing a false humble version of me to the world in hopes for brownie points in heaven that I had somehow been authentic on the journey. No, when God says He wants all of us, He isn't kidding. And so 5 years ago He began chipping away at the walls I had made around me. Desperate to hide I patched and glued making a muddy mess of my life until I could patch and glue no more and fell into a deep despair that I would ever see a version of me that resembled beautiful or worthy ever again.

You see, somewhere between the humiliation and disgrace of my marriage struggles, to the COVID haze and my husband almost dying, to the mental health diagnosis for my son and pulling him home from school, to the startling revelation of my husband being sexually abused as a child, to the chronic migraines and illness, somewhere in that messy middle I had stopped seeing beautiful.

Somehow along that road I stopped seeing beautiful and suddenly saw fear. Fear and terror at every turn. No one to trust, even my own shadow. I saw germs and sickness and darkness lurking, trying to swallow me whole. I saw hopeless and weak. Sick and never ending. I saw famine not feast. I saw winter, never turning to spring. I saw heavy and empty and failure, gossip and greedy and opportunities to become unhinged. I saw judgment and sure to fall apart. I saw anxiety gripping, heart twisting fear. I saw pain and heartache, I saw tears. I saw the world is evil and dark and nothing is good. I saw bitterness and anger. I saw grappling with forgiveness and coming up short. I saw the light go out, and cynicism set in. Yes, I stopped seeing good, now only fear, and I stopped seeing beautiful all together.

But if beautiful is God, is it really that I have stopped seeing Him?

As I cry out to God for answers He prompts me to look down and see what is in my hand. I realize the pain I am feeling is from what I am holding, a huge shard of glass dripping with my own blood, the only part of the last few years of my shattered life I have left. I know He wants me to give it up. And I weep and cry at the thought. How can I possibly let it go? If I let it go I have nothing left to protect me. Nothing left to prove I survived the breaking. Nothing to cradle and shield me with. I'll be empty handed and then what? What will happen next when I am unarmed?

I will myself to ask the Lord to take it. I surrender it and ask Him to take that piece of glass and make it into a beautiful stained glass window. I cry silent tears as I realize how lonely I am. What do I hold now? I ask. Hope. Is His simple reply. Hope for what? For infinitely more than you could think or imagine.

It’s with this flicker of hope and opened hands that God is then able to show me why I truly stopped seeing beautiful. He shows me that I stopped seeing beautiful because I stopped seeing my weakness and the hardships of life as opportunities for God's beautiful light of power to shine through me. I started to see the cracks in my life as liabilities that would surely find me lacking and sidelined by others. I was sure that if I didn't patch those holes quick enough, everyone would see how weak and fallible I am and turn their back on me, discredit me from my calling and leave me high and dry. I even feared God would abandon me because of my struggle. Instead of seeing my weakness as a weapon, I bought the lies of the enemy and my effort became covering up how desperately broken I am.

But in the last few days God has revealed to me that brokenness is not a moment when He leaves us, instead it is a moment in time where His light can shine through those broken and bloodied cracks of my life in the most illuminating ways. A wonderful moment where I can be authentically vulnerable as I let people come close to see how human I really am, allowing them to see the only way I can stand is because of the light inside me. And in fighting this reality I had used up every last ounce of energy and all I had left to show for it was bloody glass. The last shard of my life that God needed me to surrender so I could see His glory in the mess. For what I had missed in the fear and pain was His beauty was inside me all along. I can see clearly now the only hope for the people around me is not in me, not my strength or my story, but the light of Jesus in me. His light is the beautiful in this mess. And it's a light I can no longer hide.

My dear friend, how often is the thing we are holding on to to protect us from the pain, actually the thing causing us the most pain? How often is it crippling us and blinding us from seeing anything beautiful around us? If we are ever to feel the embrace of our Father we must put down the heavy and broken weight in our hands long enough to open our arms to receive His love and all He has for us, long enough for us to realize the beauty we seek is already in this earthen clay jar, waiting to be set free by the inevitable breaking life brings, if we will stop fighting the Masters hands long enough to let Him mold us. I can now say that I know for sure the breaking has not been a cruel act of God, but a gift, as He reveals more of Himself to me, and through me. Showing me how to stop trying so hard to cover up the holes and cracks in my life and unashamedly shine Him, more and more of Him until there is nothing left of me.

Today, if like me, you are weary from hiding and cowering in the darkness. If today you can say, I don’t see beautiful anywhere in this lonely and forsaken place. I empathize with you. But I encourage you to take a second look at what the enemy is telling you is weakness and see it as a weapon to fight back against the lies. For your weakness and breaking is actually an invitation to shine the strength of Jesus and find the truth is, beautiful is already inside you waiting to burst forth. And this beauty has a name - Emmanuel, God with us.

Love, E

For God, who said, "Let there be light in the darkness," has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 2 Cor. 4:6-10 NLT

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