Life is Broken
A perfect life is no joke. But it almost sounds like one, because what we experience is so ridiculously far from this.
In small ways and great, things have gone wrong. Go to Bible Gateway and look up the word "groan." We groan, the whole creation groans. We have forged a different path than what was intended for us, and unfortunately, it's not just us. Sometimes the things that have gone wrong are due to other people.
In all of the aspects in which we were designed to prosper – in health, work, environment, community, and family – it is there that our lives have proven to be broken. Sometimes life is broken by others as we face the consequences of what others have done. Other times, if we're honest with ourselves, it's broken because of the decisions we make ourselves. There may have been times when we truly believed the imperfect path was the best path for us. Since the beginning of time brokenness has plagued humanity, and yet, from the very first transgression of perfection, God began whispering hope and restoration.
The rhythm of restoration
Step one: Grieve.
You were not designed for brokenness. When Jesus encountered our heartache he wept. He sweat drops of blood. He had to retreat to quiet places to pray regularly. This is not because life was full of perfection, it's because life is broken – in small ways and great ways. Whether you've just suffered a hurtful glance from someone, or whether you're devastated by the loss of a child or loved one to a disease with terms you've never heard about until the last year; Grief, small or great, is yours. Though it may seem like it will last forever, it won't. Feeling the sadness in its fullness is the fastest route to healing. Feel it fully and call out to God. God sees, God knows, and God is the only one who holds the keys to your heart. God hold the answers to the whispers of your soul, and grief, done in the arms of your Creator, is healing.
When Jesus Christ had an audience of thousands, the very first people he addressed were the broken, and the words he spoke were comfort. God has comfort for you, and your brokenness is top on his list.
Step Two: Confess.
Confession is not condemnation, confession is the first step to restorative life. Ask God to reveal to you the intricacies of your situation. What was the potential of a situation, what would have been best? How was that broken? Recognize what was done to you; and alternatively confess the truth of what you've done. Maybe you've done the right thing in light of wrongs against you, or maybe you've made mistakes along the way. It may be that you're doing things that you know are wrong, but you don't see any possible way out. This insight sometimes comes at once, and other times is revealed over the course of years. Regardless, recognition of the truth of a situation, even if it seems impossible, pleases God and it gives you your most accurate picture, equipping you in the best way to move forward.
Step Three: Forgiveness
Debts can sometimes be paid back. But when we have a debt that is too great to bear, we declare bankruptcy. It doesn't erase the situations of our past, but it absolves us from having to take on the task of paying them back. We were created by God with perfect potential. There are times when we realize our own betrayal of what was purposed for us. Purposefully or inadvertently we are hurt by others, and sometimes we are the ones who hurt others or ourselves. We are not alone. We can't always take back what's been done. Because it was so necessary, from the first human infraction, God began to lay a plan of salvation.
Throughout history God revealed the promise of redemption to those who had regard for him. This plan was ultimately carried out as the incarnation of the Word of God was born into the human plane. Jesus Christ lived out a perfect life, and submitted himself to death on the cross. Our brokenness leads to the breakdown of relationships and ongoing pain, and at its worst, carelessness, neglect, or indulgence can lead to the end of life itself. Brokenness and sin is destruction of everything that was purposed for us, all the health, beauty, and prosperity of relationships and life. Whether small or great, our infractions have been made and we are in need of forgiveness. God incarnate paid our debt, once and for all in the death he submitted himself to.
You are forgiven. And with the receipt of forgiveness comes the power to forgive others. Others can't make up to you the brokenness they've caused, but as you have been absolved, so you can absolve others of the responsibility to repay debt, whether it be financial, emotional, or spiritual.
As those things become apparent, ask for forgiveness, receive forgiveness, give forgiveness.
Note: Forgiveness does not mean subjecting yourself to abuse again. It's possible to forgive someone their debt against you and yet in wisdom separate yourself to a place of safety.
Step Four: Alter Your Course
Pray about the best way forward. Jesus died and was resurrected. After his resurrection, he revealed himself once again to his friends on earth, and then rose to the heavenly realms. He lives today and has sent the Holy Spirit as a counselor to guide us in new life. This counselor is available to you as you embrace the reality of all that Christ has done. Pray and seek God for the way forward. Proceed with a listening ear. Consider how, not just to address the issues that you're dealing with, but to put good practices into place all around, practices that will uphold you and support you. Think about the people you know, especially the people you respect deeply. Go to them and ask them what they might do in the same situation. Seek to know how the wisdom of God could guide you forward.
Make a plan and step into it. Repentance is the process of turning away from what is causing destruction, and stepping into a new plan, a plan for abundant life.
Step Five: Have Hope
There may be a part of you that wants the easy road. There's something that pulls you into your old habits, habits that never get you where you want to be. Discard them like a dirty rag and strive forward towards a new and better life. The life God has designed for you holds a depth of satisfaction that you've never even dreamed of, a satisfaction which will spill over to others, and grow like a healthy garden or a strong tree, supporting not only you, but those around you as well. And not to stop there, the work that you do lays foundations in eternal realms, foundations which will follow you, through faith in Christ, all the way beyond your life here on earth and into eternity to come.
The more you practice this rhythm of restoration, the more you'll come to understand the hope that God holds for you. Heaven on earth replaces hell on earth, and whispers and foreshadows the hope to come. Dive into God's practices, explore this rhythm over and over again.
a very short story about a very broken man
A man rode his bicycle down a busy five-lane city street. His tan muscles glistened in the sun. He was steering deftly with one arm, not because he was casually meandering, but because he only had one arm. There are times in this life, when we've lost an integral part of ourselves. Once grief is complete, like this man, we can still move forward, when we're ready.
You can still succeed, you can still thrive. Consider your losses, and a then consider what you have left. You have all the tools you need to step forward.