“We are all broken by something. We have all hurt someone and have been hurt. We all share the condition of brokenness even if our brokenness is not equivalent.” Brian Stevenson in Just Mercy
Every person is broken but we expend a lot of energy hiding that truth. I’m convinced that the more church members pretend like they do not struggle with with spiritual doubts/addiction/mental illness/bankruptcy/unemployment/imperfect children/bitterness/marriage problems/greed the more that congregation resembles a social club.
When we fail to admit the ways in which we are broken, it’s almost impossible to serve other people without feelings of superiority. “I have it all together so I will deign to help people with cancer/in prison/who are homeless.”
This is not what authentic Christianity looks like.
My hero Brian Stevenson wrote in Just Mercy (2015) about his work as an attorney in Montgomery, Alabama serving poor incarcerated people – some on death row. The work was incessant and exhausting.
He wrote story after story about mostly black men, women, and children who found themselves so utterly powerless in the face of the legal system that they were more than broken; they were crushed.
The work was burning him out . . . until he acknowledged that he, too, was broken. He writes that being broken is what makes us human. God did not create perfect robots. God created people who bleed and ache and experience deep grief. And often we break each other. And sometimes we even enjoy breaking each other.
Imagine – as we encounter each other today – that we recognize that every single person we meet has hurts we cannot see. Some are deeper than others, but we all have those broken places. Every single one of us.
Being broken is what makes us human.
Image by Jon Shireman from his collection of shattered flowers.