“Stop saying people are broken,”
She was hiring a worship leader for her church and in my interview, I suppose the word “broken” had come out of my mouth one too many times for her taste.
“Not everyone is broken,” she told me with confidence. “That is not the community of our church.” But I had already come to the realization that the world had problems…every last one of us.
“Oh…yes, actually they are broken,” I told her. “All of us are.” Sometimes I flinch in the face of authority, but she was in my backyard now, and I knew what I knew.
I’ve spent years carrying brokenness around. First in the form of shame, hidden away, a secret I wanted God to fix. But recently, as a banner I can’t seem to stop waving.
It’s my passion…my calling. Brokenness. Go figure.
Here’s the hard thing about deep-seated passions that drive us to action; we hear voices. That’s right. [clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]Once we decide to step up to the plate and lend a hand for the sake of humanity, we hear whispers telling us to knock it off.[/clickandtweet]
No one wants to hear your story.
No one needs your help.
This is about self-importance.
This isn’t necessary.
“Not everyone is broken.”
As I’ve stood waving my banner of brokenness, I’ve heard them over and over.
I have believed God for so many things in my life, even while I may not have believed him for other things. Sometimes he comes through beautifully, yet at other times, people I know and love get sick and I wonder why he doesn’t step in the way I’ve asked him to.
He is God. And I am not. I’m getting used to this notion, though I will never completely understand his ways.
[clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]We’ve been told that we are made in God’s image, yet we are light years apart. Sometimes I just wish he were more like me.[/clickandtweet]
But then today…
TODAY can be such a great day. And you never know when TODAY is coming. But TODAY came for me.
I’ll run you through it.
I wrote a book. It’s raw. Parts of it are not easy to read. It talks about all sorts of darkness. It’ll make you squirm in your seat, though probably no more than I squirmed in mine while writing it.
“Not everyone is broken.”
I heard her words as I wrote. I didn’t believe them for a second. But on occasion, they still managed to rain on my parade, even though I marched straight through the thunderstorm of her denial.
But you know what redemption does? It doesn’t fix.
Fixing would’ve looked like her coming back to tell me, “You were right, everyone IS broken. Please pardon the rain.
But that’s not what happened. Not at all. Because God exchanges. And for me, his exchange looked something like this:
A man called me today; a pastor. He asked me to come speak at his church. I asked him about his church, what it was like, what was his vision for the place? The first words out of his mouth were…
“Well, our vision is simply…that everyone is broken.“
I smiled. I knew what God was up to.
This past weekend I sat through three services at my church as the lead pastor (who was speaking on the subject of doubt, and how doubt can actually be a GOOD thing) gave a shout out for my book. In one of the services, he said this:
Matt is unflinching. Matt is unsparing as he describes the pain and the brokenness of his life and what it made him do in relationship to God. STRUGGLES. If you want to see a man, out loud, in writing, struggle with the God of the universe, get this book!
I felt the exchange in my spirit. Redemption quietly unfolding within me. Healing. Validation. The endorsement of God, not man.
Here’s the thing; sometimes when God shows up, he shows off. Sometimes he reaches out several times to make sure we’ve heard him. Sometimes he says…
I want to make sure you heard me correctly. I want to make sure you know that something other-worldly is going on here – that I have set you on this path. That everyone actually IS broken.
So this afternoon, I opened up my Facebook and saw two book reviews.
One was meaningful, because while the reviewer and I are not in the same place spiritually, she validated my experience, which is what grown-ups do. Then she went on to speak my name in the same sentence as one of my favorite authors. I’m telling you, as soon as I saw Brené Brown’s name next to mine, a really embarrassing teenage-Bieber-fan-giggle escaped my lips. I had to look over my shoulder to make sure no one heard.
But the other review had some magic on it. I didn’t see it coming. This reviewer was a conduit God used to make sure I had no question about whether or not the path I was on was needed, important, or necessary.
Halfway through reading her review, I saw these words and was overcome.
As he faces the memories and pain of his childhood, and the present pain of his sister’s cancer, he rages at God for not providing healing. But it is through that rage, through that honest baring his heart, that he discovers God’s presence with him in the wreckage.
I paused and sat back in my chair. I took a deep breath and let it out. And in that moment, everything; the pain, the abuse, the fear, that little boy I used to be…the request by God for me to BOLDLY approach him with my questions and doubts…to accuse him, to plead with him…and then finally, to be called by him…to write…to bleed on the page…everything, all of it, rushed straight through me. I saw a hundred memories in ten seconds. And then…
…as clear as I’ve heard God speak to me in a decade…
I heard him say…
Well done, son. WELL DONE.
Well done, GOOD and FAITHFUL.
SO well done.
I began to cry, right there at my kitchen bar, and before I knew it, I was singing these words over to him:
Something deep within me shifted in this moment.
Something was exchanged.
Not fixed…(my past was still my past. I was still the same ole abused, broken down man I’ve always been), but exchanged.
The words God was speaking were landing on my heart.
You made it through. Now…
Let it go AND carry it with you.
*You no longer live in the past, but the past still lives in you. Let the past remind you that I will make all things beautiful – horrendous things, more gorgeous than you could ever imagine.
And yes…everyone IS broken. That’s what redemption is all about. So go help them. Because you’re ready.
And Matthew, don’t question it, Son. You don’t have to question it anymore.
Go with it. Be bold. Tell the truth. Tell your story.
Oh my friends, I am STILL a broken man. And I am STILL finding God in the ruins of my life. But he is there in the wreckage, sifting and exchanging, with you and with me. And we are not alone.
We’re all there together. Every last one of us.
*Based on a quote by Samuel Pisar.
Song: Good, Good Father by: Chris Tomlin. Check it out HERE.
Photo quote at top of blog: Ernest Hemingway
Looking for a good book? I wrote THIS ONE. If you wonder where God is when life comes crashing down, check it out.