I am learning to walk in brokenness. To see myself as I really am. To cut through the illusions and wrestle with the reality of myself as completely broken, hopelessly sinful, with no hope of changing. I'm learning this after what I mentally label "a year of loss." Maybe you know some of the events that contributed to this: a miscarriage, loss of vocation and ministry, loss of friends, and some more nebulous losses, like losing the roles that defined us. I'm not intending this to be a pity-party. Far from it. Because this has also been a walk of grace.
I have lived so long as a believer that I started to think I had something to bring. Surely I should by now? Compassion for others, a servant's heart, a gentle spirit. I played (poorly) the role of pastor's wife: inviting people into my home, listening quietly, supporting my husband and making sure he was well-fed, dressed, and encouraged for his hard work. I played the role of devoted mother. The role of Christian friend. Only to find that those roles can be taken away in a moment, can be brought into the light and revealed for their failures. Broken.
This stripped away, I eventually concluded that the most I could offer was an eloquent prayer of repentance, a picturesque model of faith and submission, a devoted disciple of Christ. Instead all I saw was a face blotchy and red from crying and a blank stare when asked how the gospel applied to my situation: "I don't know." Broken.
I am defining myself in new roles: poor in spirit, a mourner, hungering and thirsting (see the Beatitudes, Matthew 5). Broken. But these roles are not something to avoid, to regret. Rather they are accompanied by promises so full of hope: the Kingdom of Heaven, comfort, filling. Grace.
This walk of brokenness is a walk into grace.
Some days I wonder if I have ever understood the gospel at all. Twenty plus years of this journey and I never understood? Some days I wonder if I understand it now. That this grace asks nothing. That, in fact, it demands that I hold nothing, that I am broken.
Without brokenness there can be no grace.
And I finally begin to see how much I need grace. Bring on the brokenness.