My youngest nephew isn’t one yet, but his chunky little legs endeavor to get him around from point A to point B. He pulls himself up and coasts on furniture, but his body hasn’t yet grasped how to take steps. Even so, every time he stumbles, he learns something about gravity, balance, and endurance. And with that new-found knowledge, he tries again.
Spiritually speaking, falling–or stumbling–teaches us how to walk too. Our progress with the Lord won’t look like a linear uphill progression. We trip, we wander, and at times, we fall face down in the mud.
Yet, our weaknesses–not our strengths–are what draw us closer to our Father. In humility, we acknowledge that we can’t live “the good life” all on our own abilities. We need God’s power working in and through us…through our frailty.
And the stunning realization takes us even deeper: our vulnerable spirits usher us into closer fellowship with our Lord and those around us. Through our weakness, we learn what community is all about.
I value being open and known. I’d rather be understood and disliked than mislabeled and dismissed. Ironically, I can share my heart with strangers or from a blog, but if I feel threatened or judged by a close friend or relative, I will often keep my feelings or struggles to myself. Doing so, I “protect” myself, but I also rob myself of the potential for deeper community, understanding, compassion, honesty, and ultimately, love.
As Scripture says, anyone can love someone who loves them well. The challenge comes when we allow ourselves to be broken in front of someone who may gentle pick up the pieces or may step on our fragile shards, crushing them further. It’s a risk to expose our heart and our frailty; the person seeing could scoff, mock, or just explain why your heart is so messed up in the first place. They could discredit the pieces. Out of their own discomfort, they could tell you how to put it all back together, encouraging you to hide it further.
They could show compassion, grace, and understanding, allowing you to see the weak links in their history. We can connect over celebration, but the connection over pain holds a tighter bond. When I mess up as a mom and need to confess my struggles, I don’t want to hear all the ways I should be improving or how someone else did it better. These thoughts are already at the forefront; I’ve read enough parenting books to know what needs to change and where I’m failing. Sometimes we just slop this thing called life. In my brokenness, what I crave is prayer, compassion, and a snapshot of someone’s life, “Yeah, it’s rough.” Share your own story. Share your heart’s doubts, struggles, and hope. Let me know I’m not alone; I’m not extreme. I am going to pull through. I am not a complete mess-up.
Sharing our weaknesses is not about reveling in our misery or excusing our faults. It’s about bringing pieces together before the Lord as the Body and saying, “Here we are. Heal us. Renew us.” When we do that together, He is more glorified in and through our stories. And through the whole process, we clothe ourselves in humility and a deep desire to get up from the mud again. Yes, we’ll continue to trip, but we have others alongside (muddied as well) who will lend a hand and encourage us forward with Him.
Ann Voskamp puts the idea of sharing brokenness like this: “If I don’t fully share my own brokenness…there’s never full communion? Maybe–communion can only happen when not only our strong parts are broken and given, but when our broken parts are also given. Any healing communion that we can give will come not through our strength, but through our brokenness.”