The Spirituality of Being Broken
For the next few weeks, I am going to answer some of the questions that my readers have posed to me over the past few months. This first question concerns itself with being broken. One reader asked, “Should I let people know how broken I feel, or is it a sign of weakness?” I thought this was a wonderful question because the notion of being broken apart – (in our minds and spirit,) has been around since humanity was created! The feeling of being broken should not be seen as necessarily a negative thing. I believe the reason God made us able to be broken, is that through our brokenness, we can reach out for help to God and to others.
Being Broken Allows Us to be Humble
Humility is a necessary characteristic of living. Without some degree of humility, we live our lives on self-propulsion. Humility enables us to ask for help. We can reach out to others for answers we cannot find within ourselves. And brokenness gives us the gift of vulnerability – which in turn gives us a chance of achieving deeper intimacy with another.
There’s a country song, written by Paul Williams and Jon Vezner, and covered by Diamond Rio called “You’re Gone.” https://youtu.be/0IJiVwE1y3c
The first line says, “I said hello I think I’m broken, and though I was only joking, it took me by surprise when you agreed.” It is about a man who inadvertently admitted his brokenness and found that it led to an entire change in his life. I love this song because it tells my story as well as so many other’s stories. Being broken means we are torn apart, and opened up in ways we may never have been otherwise. Brokenness means I face the reality that I am not perfect. (I never was, but sometimes I’ve been lulled into a false sense of self-perfection.)
I’ve been broken many times in my life. It wasn’t just a one-time event.
- After I dropped out of college (twice) and had to take a hard look at my own substance abuse.
- My experience with infertility was a time of great brokenness.
- When I suffered a work/life burnout in my career.
It was only through brokenness, through surrender – that I finally began to ask for help. I became humble enough to seek a power greater than myself. And I became teachable. That entire process – breakdown to rebuilding, was the life change I needed to be restored to a new state – an even better state of being.
- When we are willing and able to get honest, and recognize our imperfections, we begin the journey of being restored to a new state of wholeness.
- Admitting that we are broken, leads us to a new reality. This reality of our imperfection can lead us to new levels of joy, serenity and peace.
- We see we are no longer in control. In the despair of our powerlessness, we can find strength and serenity to face our lives in a new and powerful manner.
Being Broken Enables Us To Seek God
When we admit and begin to see ourselves as imperfect and incomplete, we understand that we are not God. If we are not God, and do not possess God-like powers, then we can’t solve our own problems. Hence, we need to seek a power that can solve our problems and restore us to a state that is even better than we were in before we had the problem.
There’s a term from the Greek, called kenosis, which means ‘emptying out’ or purging. Although the term was later co-opted into Christian theology to mean ‘the process of emptying ones own will to submit to God’s will,’ the meaning is the same. We have to see that when we break, we empty out of the old way of being and are open (literally broken open) to a new way. In modern thinking, the term ‘kenosis’ can be understood as the process of ‘surrender.’ Where we stop attempting to run our lives, and submit to a Higher Power. Or, we seek to do God’s will, instead of our own. We empty out of the old ideas we carried, and the old ways we used to operate, which no longer work.
Being Broken is The Way To Peace
Brokenness is not a weakness. Brokenness is a path to a greater understanding of God and wholeness. Nineteenth century philosopher Leszek Kolakowski said that God, “is revealed to us in the experience of our failure.” When we see that our self-sufficiency no longer serves us, we open ourselves up to help from others and ultimately from God. Our brokenness and imperfection becomes the way we attain the spiritual path. And eventually, if we continue to seek long enough, that path leads to a greater peace.
Finally, being broken means that we can be put back together into a new shape or form. There is more room for God in a broken vessel than one that is intact. If we are never broken in our lives, I’d say we are playing life a little too safely. We are not risking enough nor allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to another. We will always fail, disappoint others and be disappointed by others. We are not meant to be perfect beings – but rather highly flawed and imperfect. In our brokenness, we can learn compassion, grace, love and humility. All of these are important characteristics of the human condition. And ultimately, our brokenness will enable us to lead a fuller and richer life of greater texture.
Until we meet again – may you be blessed on your spiritual journey.
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