Sunday, October 11, 2009

Brokeness and Fellowship

Reading: academic journal articles times a billion (the end of semester looms), A Common Prayer ~ Leunig

Listening to: Live under lights and wire ~ Sandra McCracken, Love was here first ~ Carolyn Arends (Thanks, Carolyn for another superb album!)


I have spent so many years learning to live with unanswered questions and prayers. My faith has grown incredibly in dry, desert-like places. And everytime I start to think I have it sorted, that I'm getting better at trusting and letting go... I realise I don't and I'm not.

The last few months have been hard and dark. I have experienced a new episode of the clinical depression and anxiety that I have struggled with on and off for around 12 years. And while there is a daily battle against hopelessness, fear, lethargy and lack of concentration; the biggest battle is against my own mind and soul.

And while I'm struggling, I see so many around me in pain and it feels some days like the world is falling apart....

- There's my dear friend and mentor who despite having so much hope and love and passion to give, is trapped in a body riddled with the ever mysterious Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

- A couple I know, having both survived serious alcoholism, substance abuse and addictions, came to faith. Now they continue to struggle against temptation, the physical and psychological after-affects of their past, mental illness and financial debt, among other things. Last week our small group heard that every time we pray for them things get worse in the ensuing days... causing us to pray even harder...

- Another dear friend admitted to me recently that she has taken drugs and forced herself to throw up in an attempt to manage her weight issues (caused largely by a medical condition), because her mum constantly hassles her about her weight.

- A woman who has already endured more than her share of injustice, abuse and pain in her life, is watching her 12-year-old son attempt suicide multiple times and fall through the cracks of the broken mental health system.

Just to name a few....

Despite my lack of understanding and answers, there is one lesson I am learning at the moment: Our brokeness is a place for grace and love and joy and hope to arrive in fresh ways.

For a number of months my best friend and I had only been exchanging random texts and emails that were few and far between. I accused her of not being the kind of friend I needed at a critical time. She graciously accepted my accusation and apologised for her lack of follow-through. Soon after, I discovered that while she had no idea what I was going through, I had no idea that she had been struggling with deep and painful wounds herself.

Amongst the tears and apologies, I began to catch a glimpse of an important truth. Whilst we might fear sharing our pain with others because of their own burdens, it is precisely in the sharing of pain that the miracle of God's hope and peace begin to break through.

As my friend and I became more honest with each other, what could have been an overwhelming amount of pain miraculously became easier to handle. I began to have a sense of hope and peace that passed all understanding. On Wednesday nights, as my small group gathers, we share and cry and pray and hope together. Somehow, in our combined brokenness we are not overwhelmed, we are encouraged and sustained. I can't explain why this happens or how, but I know without a doubt that God is - and that he is breaking through the brokeness.

So while life is hard, while we might feel so broken there is no hope, while faith does not seem to always hold the answers..... I pray that we can allow ourselves to be broken. I pray we can allow ourselves to share our brokeness. And I pray that in our shared pain we will witness God's miraculous grace and love and peace and joy and hope.

'God bless the lost, the confused, the unsure, the bewildered, the puzzled,
the mystified, the baffled, and the perplexed. AMEN' ~ Leunig

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