As I said, the story is simply one illustration of what I’ve been thinking so much about lately. This is where it gets more difficult- where I want to turn the story so that you can understand its many layers in the same way I do. I think of it kind of like an onion – each layer has its own tangy sweetness – and even though you can slice right through them, one of the best ways to enjoy them is to cut them into rings – each one its own complete circle, nested inside another and another. (Ok I’m distracting myself and thinking of making a Sonic run now.)
Just keep in mind – the first and biggest layers – can be bitter, or dry, or even rotten, but you can peel them away and still find sweetness inside. Just hold on- we will get there.
In the beginning of my story, I saw something I wanted. I knew it really didn’t meet a true need in my life. I knew it was too costly for me to ask for. I knew my purpose in wanting it had more to do with impressing other people than expressing myself.
But none of those truths stopped me from indulging my desire for it. And, even more- it didn’t stop me from placing another person in a position to meet my desire.
And when she didn’t, I felt justified (can you imagine the audacity?) in not only rejecting her gift, but in harboring some pretty negative feelings toward her – judging her fashion sense, her ability to relate to me, and her worth as a grandmother.
I kind of skipped that part in the story, didn’t I? Didn’t fully confess, did I? I did that purposefully. You were busy reading and may not have read between those lines – but it was there.
When I shoved the jacket into the back of the closet, I shoved my grandmother back there with it. (Figuratively) I rejected any influence she could have had over who I was becoming over the next several years.
Why? Because I didn’t bother to ask her what she thought about the jacket, or of me. I didn’t bother to seek the truth. I believed that my interpretation was the only interpretation.
What is worse (and you thought it was a good thing) was that when I did decide to love the jacket – it was completely on my own terms.
I’ll accept this gift now, because it fits who I want to be right now.
I didn’t thank my grandmother for having given it to me. Didn’t tell her I had changed my mind about it – because, let’s face it – to tell her I had changed my mind would have meant that I had to expose the lie, reveal how truly ungrateful I had been in the first place.
Even worse – because I had chosen to believe my own unfair judgements of her for so long, I still didn’t listen to her, or seek her advice, or care about her in any particular way at all.
I did that. My heart. My mind. My choices. In short – my soul.
(The soul is understood to be made up of three things: the mind, the will, and the emotions.)
It’s a powerful thing – the way we let our soul become so hardened.
The good news is that being hard gives it the ability to be broken.
What? It’s good to be broken?
There are certainly different ways to view brokenness. But remember, when we see a beautiful mosaic – it would not exist if the artist had not had the courage to break something first. (Or to keep our metaphor going – you can’t have onion rings without cutting open the onion – and if you are like me – that can involve lots and lots of tears.)
So, yes, my friends, it is very good to go through the process of being broken. Here are a few passages that describe different places within that process:
Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control. (Proverbs 25:28 NIV)
So, without self-control- (taking responsibility for our actions) anyone can break through whatever walls (defenses or hiding places) that we have built for ourselves whether we want them to or not.
But rebels and sinners will both be broken, and those who forsake the Lord will perish. (Isaiah 1:28 NIV)
Notice, it says that rebels and sinners will be broken (um – hello? That’s all of us, right?), but ONLY those who forsake – turn their backs to- the Lord will perish. So be broken, but don’t turn away.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. (Psalm 51:17 NIV)
This is why we don’t need to turn away. He will not despise us if we offer ourselves – as broken, and ugly, and gross as we are -He will come to our aid.
I hope you will come back to my bench to visit again so that we can peel away the next layer. But, before you go, please allow me to offer a gift to you.
I pray for you today that you will become open to the process of brokenness- able to acknowledge the gifts or people you may have cast aside along your path. And that your heart begins to long for the truth, accepting that it may not be pretty, that it may require more of you than you want to give, but having certainty that the results will be more than worth it because they bring your heart closer to the greatest gift giver you will ever know.
I hope that you accept my gift, but I accept that that part – is completely up to you. And even if you don’t, I will still be here, on my bench, waiting to hear your thoughts.