Friends of mine from the other side of the world have been forced to abandon all their worldly possessions and leave a beloved country with a volatile and hostile government. It was heart wrenching for them, not because of all the stuff they had to leave behind, but because they don’t know if they will ever be allowed to go back to the country where they left their hearts full of first love’s tenderness. Though I’ve never had to flee a country, I related very deeply with a lot that my friend has to say about brokenness and keeping up the appearance of wholeness. I wanted to share her blog with you today. This is from The Overturfs: “Shells”.
One of my favorite things to do on the beach is find shells. Often they tease me, a beautiful piece sticking out of the sand and I pick it up only to find it’s just a broken piece of what was once a beautiful shell. In some places, where the tide hits the shore hard, the area is covered with bits and pieces of what were once beautiful, whole shells.
I would describe my past few months as feeling a bit like those shells. With the illusion of a complete exterior, I can feel hypocritical. What if I am picked up, then everyone will see that I am just pretty in that one spot–but otherwise broken and even sometimes empty. Crushing my “shell” has been everything from Arabic (a daily humbling!), to losing our vehicle and entire household in S*d., the very real possibility that we won’t be able to return to that country. Learning our daughter needs surgery. The list goes on and really, not any one of these things has been so overwhelming in and of itself…’life’ is happening to every one of us! The much greater issue is not what happens, but how we respond to the things that inevitably will. We must be on our guard not to measure our struggles against anyone else’s or to judge them, for sometimes it is the smallest of things that can bring brokenness.
To be transparent, it is my frustration with the brokenness and the allure of keeping appearances, even/especially if it is only to myself (i.e. the shell is whole) which has been the struggle. What happens when we just can’t do ‘x,y, and z’ and find ourselves so insufficient to the task? I can’t do it, how wonderful that is. I wish it hadn’t taken me the past couple of months to ‘wake up’ to the truths I know. Brokenness, hiddenness, weakness…oh the joy of it! How often we ‘know’ things but still resist His gifts to us because they don’t come in the form we anticipated or think they should.
In the book Practicing His Presence, Frank Laubach states: ”If our destiny is to grow on and on and on, into some far more beautiful creatures than we are now, that means that we need to have the shells broken quite frequently so we can grow.” Oh Father, break my shell. Break it, and then break it over and over and over again.
I will, even if subconsciously, respond in some way to the events of each day. Inviting Jesus into those moments, to filter them through His lens of purpose and eternity makes every single thing look different when we take the time to look, wait…listen. Embracing brokenness. Allowing Jesus to determine how he will be glorified in me. Recognizing what He wants to do in any circumstance comes from knowing His heart. Could it be that we will know His heart more fully as we experience it in our brokenness?
If so, let the tide come in, and let us frequently find ourselves in countless broken pieces upon the shore…if only we can know Him.