I’ve come face to face with the magnitude of my brokenness this semester.
One of the first times it happened I was sitting with my sister on the concrete steps greeting Richland Avenue. The white, historic building loomed behind us and turning trees dropped leaves around us as we laughed at the goofy faces we made at the screen in front of us, capturing each and every one. My glances jumped from her and then to my mom because they both looked so happy. And it hurt me to know that they could have been anywhere else in the world that day, but they chose to be with me. That was mid-September, when autumn was just beginning to settle.
In the following weeks leading into October, it rained. A lot. We wore the hoods on our coats as we trekked through the drizzles, and at some point, my heart fell too even as the clouds filled the skies above and I swooned over the perfect temperature. My heart broke on a Friday night. I don’t think I’ll ever forget wanting to leave my shift at work, just to veg out on chips and salsa and watch the sappy “Serendipity” as rain plummeted on the window. Gray days are my love language.
–but I’m getting off track. This isn’t a post about sappy movies and selfies and the weather and the way I see God in His creation and long to find my place in it. What I mean is that whether it was cold and rainy or warm and sunny, or whatever I was doing in a day, things began to happen–
Little things. Sometimes it was a conversation with a stranger at work, and other times it happened as I scribbled Bible study notes while tucked away in bed with a huge cup of coffee. It happened when dad walked me to my car, just to open my door and give me a kiss on the cheek before I drove away. It happened late at night when I fell asleep looking at the smiling face taped beside my bed. And of course, it happened when the sun shone at the right angle and I had a long minute to just stand in awe at the goodness around me.
Honestly, I think that’s it: I had a long enough minute to just stand in awe at the goodness around me. As I lived and breathed and moved in each of these moments, the common thread was an opportunity to be thankful. So much joy and thankfulness moved me to the point that it broke my heart. It broke my heart to realize I live a story that is beautifully written– and I didn’t even choose it, and I don’t admire it or live it the way I know I ought.
I break more and more every day.
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I don’t remember how long this lingering feeling of sadness stayed within me, but when I read the words of Psalm 145, the pieces of my broken heart shattered into even smaller, smaller pieces. It didn’t mesh with me. How could I be sad after reading such heavenly words?
And then it hit me: I am so full that I am broken.
It resonated. My mind raced as I thought about all the good, good things I am given even before the dawn breaks in the mornings. I have been given more than I deserve and more than I know what to do with on most days. And the fullness of so many good things has broken me. I live in the knowledge of a God who is loving toward me, and who displays His splendor through the gifts of my life. I live in a story that is painted by constant joy and peace.
How could so many good things not fill me to the point of brokenness?
There is so much humility in admitting that to you. There is so much of myself that I have to give away in order to believe that every good thing in my life are not things I have worked for or even deserve. Every conversation with my roommate, every drive to Joelton with Travis, every hug from my momma, every hand drawn picture from Lilly, every sermon that leaves me squirming, every good cup of coffee– all these good and perfect things are gifts from above.
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That’s where I am: a season of thanks. I realize there is so much hurt in the world– I can’t make myself unaware of that. But in my immediate circles and at this period of life, there is much joy. Joy. It doesn’t stop at happiness, or a fleeting emotion conditional on circumstances. It is the foundation of my faith and the reason I can get out of bed, even on the days I wonder if I’m ready for the steps ahead. There are so many things worth celebrating in this day, and I’m brought to my knees at the mention of that lengthy, lengthy list. It is the best example of feeling overwhelmed because I am caught on everything He has said and promised to me.
That’s what the Psalm talks about. It talks about God’s name being worthy of praise because of His excellent, absolutely perfect love. It talks about the good things He does and is. It tells me of His grace and compassion, and His rich, rich love toward me. It tells me that He alone is the one who holds me and hears me, and is therefore my every reason for breath and living.
Words of praise break me because it’s in those lines that I am brought to my knees at the weight of His goodness. Every fragment of my heart is absolutely shattered at the fullness of the innumerable good things I claim every day.
The thing is, it’s not even the gifts that are so wonderful. It’s knowing that a God marked by love and power looks at a little speck like me and gives abundantly. Brim-full. Overflowing. It’s not the gifts that bring me to my knees. It’s His acts of grace toward me. Whether I’m in a valley or on a mountaintop, whether I sleep in a mansion or on a rock, or whether it’s raining or shining, the “things” don’t matter because everything– even the breath I take as I wrestle with these written words– are a gift of His grace. I couldn’t even muster up the energy to bat my eyelashes were it not for His giving abundantly to me.
I’m still here and I hope I am for some time. This season of thanks has been growing for few months, which is also where this piece of work has been sitting: a place of quiet hiding. And it’s interesting that it would come to fruition in a week when I felt most distant and far away. It’s also interesting the pastor would point at my pew and challenge the church to speak thanks on a day I was tempted to not feel like doing it.
So, that’s my prayer today: that I would be like the healed leper who came back to thank Jesus. Oh, God, let me be like the man whose rotting body and internal fears were banned on that day so, so long ago, and whose raspy voice was made able to boldly proclaim, “You are good. My God, You are good.”
I think God likes hearing the sound of thanks come off our lips, and fill all the cracks and nooks of our life. I think he relishes in letting me live fully in this season, giving thanks and praise, day in and day out. And, I like to think that He enjoys filling us better than any other thing or person can in the world, in order that I might come face to face with my brokenness and sweet, sweet love for Him.
And if living in the truth that I am completely full and completely broken is what it takes to know Him better right now, I’ll take it.
Signed with thanks for you,
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Post inspired by a small group study on Psalm 145 NIV, a sermon on Luke 17, the good people who give me life color and love me to the point of humility, a church that cares enough to tell me the truth, a semester of feeling completely full and totally broken, and a God who is always patient with me.