Note: this post is directed towards the youth in multiple youth ministries I was part of (and others). I was recently asked to share something that illustrated beauty from brokenness so that maybe someone could understand with the help of a true life story. However, the subject stretches beyond the teens and younger adults. I’m still broken but I’m in process. I find the Gospel being revealed even more so in my brokenness. It definitely moves me and I’m happy to present this true life experience that explains beauty from brokenness easily (well to me at least).
Background story: My parents own a good bit of land on the lake. By a good bit I mean 17 acres. I know I know it doesn’t compare to Jacobi’s family’s 1,000,000 acre ranch (exaggerated) but for the location it is a lot! Most of it is a forest. When we moved there we had a huge front and back yard. They were pretty much fields and as time went by the small pine trees grew into larger pine trees, crazy I know. My dad then decided he wanted to take back the land that was lost to the ravenous pine tree army. However, before we could attempt to chop them down my dad had to clear the underlying brush and vines-o-death. What’s the best way to do that? Fire.
Now for the event (and I promise this gets good and ties into the message):
It was a Wednesday in my sophomore year of high school. I had to leave early for church (a habit that’s stuck around) so I didn’t have time to sit down and eat dinner with my family. I knew my dad was planning on clearing out some brush that evening after he had eaten so that we could start cutting some trees down the next day. I said before I left, “Don’t burn it all down!’ and he replied “I’ll try not too. Have fun at church!”. I left and had a jolly good time at church.
So then I pull up in the driveway after church and began noticing something was off… It was late summer or early fall and the sun hadn’t set all the way. There was just enough light left to see that our back yard/forest was darker than normal. I immediately ran inside to ask my dad how the fire went. I see him in his chair with a smirk on his face. I knew something hilarious happened. I immediately asked “What’d you do?!” and his reply was, “Well, I used diesel fuel to start the fire and I had everything under control but then I realized that there was a wind. That wind had blown diesel particles a little farther than I had expected. Next thing I know the woods were on fire and I couldn’t control it”. I find out that the fire department had to come out and extinguish this massive fire and how hard it was to reach. It took longer than expected to put out. So, what we were left with for a few weeks was this rather large dark area. Something very unattractive and barren. Something you wouldn’t expect to ever look decent again. A broken area.
A few years after the event I realized that’s how areas of my life looked. I was broken and I wanted to give up on them. I wasn’t letting God take control. I had a mindset of doing it myself because I put myself there. I didn’t realize that God loved me so much and he wanted to help! Oh, I prayed continuously but for the wrong reasons. I wanted God to get rid of the brokenness completely. I didn’t want to deal with it. I wanted it completely gone. The Great Teacher had other plans.
Flashback: A few weeks later after the fire, the area was still black and grim. My dad wouldn’t let me go out there because I’d get my shoes dirty and drag the soot through the house. However, I was tired of seeing this empty dark area and I think my dad was as well. What did we do? Planted fruit trees, blueberry bushes, and pecan trees. Some small plants and grass seeds were then spread around the area. Fun fact: plants grow better after a fire.
There then came a time when I had to give in. I had grown tired of the brokenness and I couldn’t rid myself of it. I gave in and boldly prayed for God’s intervention. Relating this to actively asking my earthly father to change the appearance of this dark area with plants. I had to ask my heavenly Father to break into the brokenness and change it (kairos)! Immediately I began to see His story influencing mine. However, it’s appearance didn’t change overnight. Just like the peach trees and blueberry bushes didn’t grow and produce awesome fruit the next day. I struggled with that. I wanted a rapid change but I failed to realize that where I see time He see timing. He would strategically place great learning experiences along the way. It was a process.
Another flashback: The plants grew and were very green. This green was way more intense because the area was still dark from the fire (and it stayed dark for a while). But they eventually produced fruit and it was delicious. However, the plants needed help. I was given the task to water them. The most important part was the placement of pine straw before winter. This would help them survive the harsh conditions and help keep weeds from growing.
The pine straw in my brokenness: community. God threw people into my life that were compelled by Christ’s love to help me out in my brokenness. Most of these people were dealing or had dealt with brokenness and understood that community is important for healing. We loved one another and shared with one another. I wasn’t alone on this earth. There were people all around me. We were in process together. And just like the young trees that were very green and eventually produced fruit in the burned area, there were people and relationships that were intense because of brokenness. God brought the beauty out from the brokenness. I thought that beauty couldn’t come from it. I was wrong. I never knew I would meet the people I did and minister to them the way I did because of the brokenness we shared. They thought the same way about their brokenness. They never thought they could reach and invest in my life the way they did.
Now I always reflect on the cross. That Broken Body became beauty. He conquered death so we can have beauty from our brokenness. I found that actively pursuing the love of Christ in the context of community and loads of prayer helped and still helps my process (obviously studying and understanding the Word helped as well). Intentionally having friendships and conversations with other broken people not only helped me but them. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and don’t be afraid to be intentional.
Like I’ve said, I’m in process. There is still brokenness in my life. However, there is beauty. I’m trusting God a lot more. I’m letting the Great Healer and Teacher guide my life. I’m constantly in community. In community I’m constantly seeing Christ’s love. That is beauty. My brokenness, something unattractive and barren, is actually beautiful.