Think about this…what if brokenness could be seen as a blessing? So often we equate blessing with happiness, possessions, the good things happening in our lives. What if we saw our brokenness as a blessing? What if the struggle of brokenness-whatever its form-is so that we can better live into the promises of God? Something that invites change, makes us more aware, teaches us empathy?
It is far too easy to slip into the idea of blessing, and I think that is what it has become-the idea of it, not the fullness of it. I love how Jen Hatmaker put it in For the Love (I am paraphrasing here)-
If it cannot be said-if it is not also true-for a single mother in Haiti then it can’t be true.
We tolerate trite-isms because they are funny or sweet but the truth is they are corrosive to the reality and understanding of blessing. “Too Blessed to be Stressed”. Seriously. ‘#Blessed’ because you just got the latest Starbucks latte. I can’t even. “Blessed to be a blessing”-when I see a homeless person wearing this one then maybe. I know this sounds harsh and I am truly sorry if this is offensive but I believe that the misunderstanding of blessing makes it too easy to swim in the shallow end of the pool. We confuse fortunate with blessing. We are fortunate to have warm homes, warm clothing, food for our tables and whatever daily bread kind of needs we have… fulfilled.
I know we’ve all heard the beatitudes at some point. The word blessed occurs nine times in eleven verses and there isn’t a single reference to what we own, what we wear, what kind of house we have, if we have running water or indoor plumbing, what we look like or where we live.
Blessed are the poor/poor in spirit…
Blessed are those who mourn…
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…
Blessed are the merciful…
Blessed are the pure in heart…
Blessed are the peacemakers…
Blessed are those who are persecuted…
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me…
Mark 5 3-11
In each of these blessings the result isn’t a great latte or a beautiful new home-it is something so much greater, but so much less desirable by cultural standards. The blessed are all broken in some way; imperfect compared to what the world holds as ‘best’. Where did we begin to equate a windfall with blessing?
- made holy; consecrated
- those who live with God in heaven
Based on this Merriam Webster definition, my guess would be that the last great pair of boots I bought did not land me in heaven or consecrate anything; so, to suggest that I am #Blessed would be a bit of a stretch.
The reality of it is that I am broken-great boots and all. It is also true that if I seek to be truly blessed it is going to require demand brokenness. If we stand in perfection-without flaw-then we have no need, no necessity of salvation, no need of blessing and I don’t know about you but I don’t know a soul this side of heaven who is perfect-and thank God for that. It is in our less than perfect, broken and scarred, hole filled souls that we can have the hope of coming face to face with Him someday…
…for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
…for they shall be comforted.
…for they will inherit the earth.
…for they will be filled.
…for they will be shown mercy.
…for they will see God.
…for they will be called children of God.
…for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (not a typo it shows up twice)
…Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven…
Not a single pair of boots, not a latte or shiny new anything is on that list but it is the most beautiful list, is it not?
Another part of being broken is that we are never full. The nature of being broken means that all that is poured into us slips out. All the gifts, freely given to us are really meant to flow out into others. His mercy fills us again and again. Because He has been merciful to us we can show mercy to others-our compassion and love should flow out from our cracks and missing pieces. Maybe rather than patch up those less than perfect places so we can hold all of what we are, all that we have that much closer-we could expose those places. It is because of our cracks and missing pieces we can freely pour out to others from a place of realness.
The next time you might feel the urge to #Blessed something think for a moment if the thing, experience, ___________fill in the blank could be replaced by #Holy or #Consecrated. Maybe consider using #broken and how different that might look? Or, better yet, live into your brokenness and pour out into others and, like Ann Voskamp suggests in The Broken Way, be the G. I. F. T. (Give It Forward Today) in someone else’s broken world.
It’s been a privilege to be a part of the launch team for Ann Voskamp’s new book, The Broken Way. This book has pushed me to think more deeply-to really lean into what it means to expose those broken places-those cracks and missing pieces. I encourage you to pick up a copy and see for yourself-Ann’s words are far more eloquent than mine-just more altogether. She will challenge you to look beyond the brokenness, to heal beyond the brokenness and to give more of yourself than you thought you could.