By Joan Endicott
Outside on my deck that spring afternoon I was in the fetal position struggling to breathe through the long, deep, guttural groans and uncontrollable sobbing. My whole soul hurt. Every fiber of my being felt broken after receiving tragic news of a loved one. The shock was something I couldn’t process and didn’t know how I ever would.
“Ohhh God—Please help me—I am completely broken. I can’t do this. I am empty. I am broken. I have nothing left…” My heart was broken.
I used to think they died from a broken heart was just a line in a country song or simply an expression to emphasize someone’s level of grief when they died. And now I know people really can die from a broken heart.
The medical term is Takotsubo syndrome (TTS) or stress cardiomyopathy. Just recently I know of two women diagnosed with this and according to Harvard, the Mayo Clinic and the American Heart Association, Broken-Heart Syndrome is, unfortunately, on the rise. For many of us, this isn’t a surprise.
We humans are all broken, aren’t we? In addition to being broken, we have experienced broken promises, broken dreams, broken relationships, broken hearts.
For that reason, I love mosaic art because it uses the broken, otherwise discarded pieces and makes something beautiful. In my travels (and on the Internet) I’ve seen some extraordinary pieces made of recycled broken glass, broken dishes and tile retrieved from the trash pile, where the artist created something completely unique and one-of-a-kind.
Something extra special!
Now more than ever, we live in a society that screams judgment, criticism, and unforgiveness to anyone who dares to be authentic, transparent, and real. (FYI: Reality TV…well, it just isn’t!) We are pummeled with pictures that promote the impossibility of perfectionism. No wonder we learn to be critical and condemning of ourselves and others—to anyone posing as anything less than perfect!
I recall the criticism of dear Mother Teresa years ago when her personal writings were published.
After Mother Teresa died in 1997, though she requested her writings, journals and correspondences be destroyed, some were posthumously released to the public in a book. I remember how bewildered I was to hear that some people were extremely critical of her, even suggesting hypocrisy, after reading about the times she struggled, doubted her faith, or felt disconnected from God. Personally, I felt less alone in my faith walk to find out how even our beloved Mother Teresa’s faith wavered.
The reality is, we feel a much greater bond when our brokenness is shared because we know we aren’t alone. Yet, it can be so hard to share our mistakes, missteps, and misunderstood moments, can’t it?
The ancient Japanese art and philosophy called Kintsugi, also illustrates life’s journey. Kintsugi (金継ぎ, “golden joinery”), also known as kintsukuroi (金繕い, “golden repair”), is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. (Wikipedia)
Both mosaic and Kintsugi art wonderfully demonstrate how we can be even more beautiful for having been broken.
When we go through any crisis, trauma, or heartbreak, we change. But how we change is what makes us unique. We’ve all seen people go through similar tragedies, yet how they come out on the other side of it can be as varied as one’s DNA. Some are critical, angry and bitter, while others come out better, with even more care and compassion for themselves and others.
Life is hard. Life’s battlefield can leave us battered, bloodied, bruised, and broken. As humans, hurts and heartaches are inevitable—however, our response is optional.
Giving all our heartbreak to the only One who can reconnect those heartstrings, rebuild the broken, and fill the cracks and crevices to heal us completely, is the Great Physician.
Yes, we are all broken. We are all lost. We are all insufficient, inadequate, and incapable of self-repair. That’s why we all need a Savior. We need Someone we can surrender all our broken pieces to. Then, as only He as Creator can, construct something indescribably beautiful that will reflect His face, His character, His hope, His love to every broken heart around us.
Isaiah 53:5 (TLB) reminds us that Christ’s brokenness was what saved us: “But he was wounded and bruised for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace; he was lashed—and we were healed.”
Though He was sinless, Jesus’ willingness to be beaten and broken gave us hope and healing—not just for now, but for eternity.
On that spring afternoon years ago, while still in the fetal position outside on my deck, in those moments I would have welcomed being done with this thing called life. It just felt too hard. Exhausted spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally from the uncontrolled and painful wailings (I am empty. I am broken. I have nothing left). In my spirit I felt The Lord say to me, Now I can really use you!
“Really, Lord? Really—It takes this kind of tragedy and indescribable pain for you to use me? WHY? Wasn’t I willing enough before?” Transparently, that is not what I wanted to hear and was a bit confused and frustrated by it.
I’m so grateful we can tell God exactly how we feel and He holds us ever closer as our loving Father, reminding us of how deeply and unconditionally He loves us. The things we may not understand at the time can become clearer to us later—or not. But as I look back on my life and think of how independent I was in some ways, and how interdependent I was when it came to craving others’ acceptance, approval, and affirmation, that was a personal prison for me until I realized I was the only one who held the key.
Now I can look back and see that every moment of humanness, neediness and brokenness has driven me to my knees to find comfort at the Cross.
Just as a broken bone can actually mend stronger if taken care of correctly, we can be stronger when we surrender all our brokenness to the Great Physician and receive His healing.
I don’t know where you are on your journey, but I hope you will take a few moments to pause, ponder and pray and ask yourself if it’s time to start learning what it looks like to appreciate all the beauty that’s come from life’s bruises, betrayals and brokenness. Start by asking yourself what it represents to you. For me, it represents a greater yearning for a closer walk with Jesus—the Prince of Peace—to heal my brokenness. It also is a powerful reminder to me that no human can give me what only God can.
We all long to be loved and to belong!
What an enormous difference it makes when our faith takes us to the foot of the Cross and we can count on and claim God’s promises of making beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3) and that He will work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). Friend, isn’t it so comforting to know that nothing is wasted or overlooked? No tear, no fear, no sorrow nor grief is unseen by our Creator. No part of your heart that’s broken off will go to waste. When surrendered to Him, all the pain of your past will become something beautiful because, in The Master’s Hands, it becomes a beautiful Masterpiece.
Grab your FREE copy of Joan Endicott’s “I Get To!”® book at www.JoanEndicott.com. Joan is an Award-Winning Keynote Speaker, Author and Coach who’s coaching has reached over 30 countries. Meet her and enjoy her encouraging messages on Facebook and Instagram.