How Do I Define Brokenness?

True brokenness can be a catalyst for total transformation

Preface: In Hope for Healing lesson 5, as a participant, I was asked to examine the difference between a prideful spirit and a broken spirit. At first, I thought maybe I had come up with the "wrong" answer because the other women in my group saw brokenness as a bad thing and a place to be ashamed of. I see brokenness as a catalyst for total transformation. Looking back on my journey through failure, disaster, and gut-wrenching pain, I came up with this definition of brokenness.

How Do I Define Brokenness?

Brokenness is the place where I realize we are all the least of these. In this place of being molded like clay, I accept that I am not defined by a career, position, title, abilities, or productivity. It's a place where I recognize at any moment I may become homeless, a refugee, disabled, or an outcast.

This is a place where I release the need to try to make everything happen the way I think it should happen. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.

All other ground is sinking sand. The place where I crucify the image of how I thought everything was 'supposed to turn out', and where I recognize that the most influential story in my life is going to come from my deepest pain. Because it is that pain that is the path to those dreams I have held so dear. It is in the pain that I will find the greatest story ever told.

In brokenness, I find that all of the things I have despised about myself, my journey, and my life are the very things that will allow me to connect to others in a way I could never have without them. As surfer Bethany Hamilton said after losing her arm to a shark, "I can reach so many more people with one arm than I ever could with two."

Brokenness is a place of total transformation. When I have gone through the process of being broken, I have been willing to question every belief I have held so dearly and to utter the words, "I can be wrong. It's okay not to have all of the answers."

It is a place where I have recognized that including others with different beliefs does not threaten my beliefs. It is a place where I allow my old system of beliefs and faith to be challenged down to the very core and even burnt to ashes. A new faith is then born from the ashes - a faith not dependent on systems or elders or images or "the way things have always been."

To me, brokenness does not despise the journey but recognizes its beauty. It means I am willing to make the toughest decisions I have ever faced, even if it means sacrificing comfort and relationships. Brokenness means I would rather step into the Red Sea and drown than stay in the place of toxic bondage where everyone pretends to be okay.

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Red sea

I’m there now. The Red Sea is calling me. I believe that the longer I give this addict more passes to keep lying to me, I’m only killing my soul and delaying whatever he needs to reach his bottom in his traps of addictions. I’m not willing to hear more lies coming from him. From the outside, we look like a solid couple that will grow older and grayer together. I’m not willing to wait for the “I’m gonna” anymore. I’m better off without wondering if I am hearing the truth from him. I still have some years to live. I’m working to let go of this horribly damaging baggage. It’s been trying to stop me from recognizing myself and my worthiness. “Tell the truth and tell it faster.” How many times can we hear this from our Married for Life group? Obviously, not enough for my addicted husband.

I'm so sorry that you are at

I'm so sorry that you are at that "Red Sea" point. My heart goes out to you as the frustration, pain, and whirlwind of emotions can feel like an impossible storm to navigate. One piece of advice I was given early on (right after our D-day) that I found to be helpful for me in my journey, was to not go to the future when those emotions were raging so strongly. My therapist shared that when we go to the future and try to put all of the pieces together during those times of chaos, the future only looks like a black hole. During those times, I would focus on simply doing the next right thing for myself and my family and not even try to figure out what a marriage down the road with my husband would look like. This brought me peace in just being in the moment and controlling what I could control - myself. In my 8-year journey so far, I have discovered that when I focus on trying to get my husband to heal, I get completely overwhelmed. When I focus on my own healing, I feel a lot more at peace.

This piece on brokenness came out of my husband and I having to make the decision to walk away from family members, systems, and groups of people that were toxic to both our individual healing and our children. We made the choice to walk away from that system of bondage and embrace authenticity. I understand that everyone has their own unique journey and these decisions are so individually complex. Sending love and healing your way as you navigate these difficult times. Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your heart!

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