Picked up a memoir yesterday of a man who has battled addiction to cocaine and alcohol. The name of the book is “Broken” and this quote is on the first page…
A disciple asks the rabbi, “Why does Torah tell us to ‘place these words upon your hearts’? Why does it not tell us to place these holy words in our hearts?”
The rabbi answers, “It is because as we are, our hearts are closed, and we cannot place the holy words in our hearts. So we place them on top of our hearts. And there they stay until, one day, the heart breaks and the words fall in.”
—From “The Politics of the Brokenhearted,” by Parker J. Palmer
This speaks to the painful “beautiful undoing” that each of us must experience in order to truly know ourselves and our desperate need for God’s amazing grace. In recovery circles, we refer to this as our “bottom”…that point in time where we realize that not only have we put it in the ditch, but that we are powerless to get our lives out of the ditch. As God lovingly exposes our desperate need for Him, our self-sufficiency is stripped away and we begin to understand in new terms what a daily life of faith looks like.
Unfortunately, so much energy is spent among Christians trying to hide weakness and brokenness, rather than embracing it and connecting with others at that level. At the heart of our hiding is a deep unbelief of the Gospel. We say we believe that God loves us as we are, but live as if God is disappointed and even angry when we fall short. This line of thinking causes us to live as orphans separated from God trying to manage sin on our own and keeps us on a perpetual cycle of shame. We then put on our masks and “Sunday Best” and parade into church comparing what we know to be true about ourselves with what we think is true about those around us. What we fail to realize is that comparing our true selves with someone else’s pristine mask is always an unfair comparison. We are left believing that we must be the only one struggling, which causes us to retreat even further into the shadows.
Are you living today as a beloved child or as an abandoned orphan? In what ways are you hiding in the shadows instead of living boldly in the Light?