Letting Others See Your Broken Pieces

I can’t count how many times people have told me how “put-together” or “on top of it” I seem to be.  These people are usually surprised to know I don’t feel that way most of the time.  My favorite way to communicate this to people–if/when it’s appropriate– is to tell them I’m in counseling.  It’s a straightforward, fairly universal-understood way of saying, “I have issues.”  It’s not that I like to tell people for some kind of “shock” value (although I confess I’m always up for challenging people’s perceptions).   Instead, when I simply mention counseling, it automatically lets them know something about where I am.  Even more importantly, my openness usually leads them to be more open about their brokenness, too.  The more people I encounter and the more life I experience, the more crucial I have realized this type of honesty to be.

This honesty is important because of its impact on relationships.  We can’t have true relationship with others without being honest about our issues.  The point of a relationship is that you relate, and you can only most fully relate to someone when you share one of the most fundamentally common element of being human–that of being flawed. (Ironically, one of the other most fundamental parts of being human is craving relationship).  Someone who puts up a front of being perfect is both inaccessible and unrelatable.
We also can’t have true relationship with God without being fully aware of our own brokenness.  If we mask our flaws, or pretend that we’re mostly ok… we give Him little room to enter in and work in our lives. As Peter Rollins says in the video below, “God is not found in the running away from brokenness. God is found in the midst of brokenness.”

Being honest about our brokenness doesn’t mean we walk around about groaning about how messed up we are.  We have to move past that and point each other towards the hope of the redeemed.  Still, we can’t get to the “hope” part without first acknowledging and sharing the broken part.  If we try to skip past honest assessment of our own situation, we can’t fully connect with God and others in the way relationship provides.
Some friends of mine were recently discussing the thought that artists generally have one good or original idea, and they spend their lives playing with variations of that one idea.  As I’m writing this post, I’m realizing what I’m saying isn’t too far from what I wrote in my article, “The Dangerous Lie That We Tell” (see p. 30).  I guess I’m still exploring that one theme… and probably always will be.  I’m trying not to repeat myself, but I’m hoping that everything I’m writing is echoing the title of my blog, and that you’re realizing you’re not alone in any of this.

At any rate, I’ll leave you with this book trailer for The Idolatry of God by Peter Rollins, which describes what I’m trying to say here more beautifully than I ever could.  I’ve yet to read the book, but it’s on my reading list for this summer, so I’ll look forward to sharing with you about it when I do!
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