Brokenness is isolating.
And there are a million ways we can end up there, in broken isolation.
My brokenness came as a result of traumatic events and tragedies and significant life changes piling on top of one another leaving me just absolutely crushed under their weight.
Last year I learned that these moments that broke me are known as sacred spaces.
For quite a few years after my world was emptied and forever altered, I carried these sacred spaces of mine with outstretched hands, like a woman, eyes wide with fear, holding a ticking time bomb.
Fearful. Alone. Confused. Everything was confused. Nothing made sense. I lived not knowing really who I was anymore or how to live or what to do with this “thing” I held that had become an unwanted part of me.
I hadn’t understood that these spaces of mine were so difficult for me to handle because I was wanting to give them to everyone when they were only meant for me.
My soul, desperate for understanding, connection, and relief from the isolating pain of these spaces, just continued breaking.
In the first chapter of Ann Voskamp’s book The Broken Way, she shares about the day her little sister was killed. My heart beat quickened as I read the words preparing the reader for the coming tragedy and I felt a familiar knot form in my stomach. I felt my sacred space open. I felt my own connection to her family’s tragedy, having lost my own little girl.
Ann recounts her dad’s unfiltered experience the day her sister died:
“Dad always said that the day my little sister was killed, the Terpstras had their John Deere tractor plowing the field right across from the house breaking up the earth… Dad said they’d just kept breaking up the earth, when his world stopped dead. He said he’d wanted to break their necks for not stopping and getting off that tractor, when he could do nothing to save the broken body of his little girl or find a way out of the brokenness cutting up this world.”
Oh these words. They sat so heavy and deep within me. But they also allowed for a small mending of my own. To hear someone else express in words something so scared that I also felt and struggled with and thought no one else could understand, and someone just understood it and shared it.
Connection of broken places and sacred spaces mends the brokenness, even if it’s just one little stitch.
Different sacred spaces and stories of loss, but I knew all too well that same agonizing frustration that occurs when your world stops dead and the rest of the world moves along as though nothing has happened, when your lost in the brokenness and desperately want out.
It’s this sacred space. This brokenness. It does more than hurt and isolate. It can cause you to lose yourself. Your identity. Your confidence. As I was learning.
What I hadn’t realized until years later (which was actually just recently) was how much of myself I had lost.
When my life became completely undone, I could list off everything I lost. My baby girl, my dad, my career, my purpose, friendships, relationships, comforts, stability, hopes, dreams, beliefs, and on and on.
But I had actually lost more.
Even though I clung to God and experienced great and miraculous intimacy with Him during my season of Great Sadness and the years following, in my brokenness, slowly, without being aware, I lost my confidence in Him, and I lost myself.
Eventually as I continued to lament and walk with the Lord, Jesus started to bind my broken heart, to heal my wounds, to help me carry my sacred spaces and understand them, and I became desperate for life again. To really live again.
I wanted to walk confidently again.
I tried and tried.
But I couldn’t quite do it. I was unsteadily walking on rough terrain. I constantly fell and struggled.
But I kept walking and struggling forward. Desperate for Jesus and His promises.
He brought me on this journey of having an expectant heart. Of teaching me to keep looking for Him, keep seeking Him, and to expect Him. To believe and expect His promises to be true for me. He was teaching me how to hope again. He was unraveling revelations of dreams and purpose and beauty and redemption.
He was revealing that I was struggling and couldn’t live a confident, bold, abundant life, not because I wasn’t meant to or because I was too broken, but because I had lost my confidence.
He wanted to show me what had been lost so it could be found.
And slowly I began to see it. Evidence that I had lost myself and my confidence in Him.
Like when my husband asked me why I never wore socks with crazy colors or patterns like I used to (because I had unknowingly let one little comment shame me so I stopped).
Like when I went to make a list of 31 things that make me happy on my 31st birthday, and I struggled to write more than 5 (because I honestly didn’t know what made me happy or what my “likes” were anymore.)
Like when I took a spiritual gifts test and the idea that I had gifts and talents was like dusting off cobwebs from something long forgotten.
Like how I did what was expected of me by others and quit dreaming and then God breathed a dream into me.
Like how I so desperately wanted to believe God’s promises but was holding back, still inhibited by doubts and lies left from being broken.
I couldn’t become who God called me to be until I understood who He made me to be.
The Creator of the stars made me. He made you. Each of us uniquely ourselves with unique interests and skills and talents and gifts and experiences. For a reason. For a purpose. His purpose.
It was time to for me to rediscover myself and my purpose through Him. To re-learn who He said I was and who He created me to be.
As I journeyed to know and believe His promises, as I journeyed to live with an expectant heart, believing that His promises applied to me, God began to bring the word “confidence” to me over and over again in His word.
“I remain confident of this: I will seek the goodness of the Lord… ” Psalm 27:13-14
“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord whose confidence is in Him.” Jeremiah 12:7
“She does not fear bad news, she confidently trusts the Lord to take care of her.” Psalm 112:7
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
He showed me that I couldn’t walk or live confidently because I had lost confidence.
But He was helping me find it.
I knew He was continuing His good work in me, and began to see it and believe it.
“For I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
He was working in me. There He was, the Potter, molding and sculpting my mess and brokenness into something new and beautiful.
“But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.” Isaiah 64:8
He was calling me to abundant life with Him. Restoring me. Redeeming what was lost. Pruning and refining and shaping me. So I could live confidently and boldly and unashamed.
I had to learn that although these sacred spaces created all of this brokenness within me, it didn’t mean that my confidence had to remain broken or lost too. It didn’t meant I couldn’t color.
I was beginning to understand the saying “broken crayons still color.”
God has plans to use our brokenness to color the world with His glory.
In restoring my confidence, I finally had eyes to see that.
I’ve found my confidence in my brokenness.
Finding my confidence has been like another step of becoming… of finding God bringing things full circle in this season.
First He had me seeking and finding and expecting Him in my life. Then He taught me that having an expectant heart means confidently trusting in His promises. Then He taught me that expecting with confidence is actually learning to hope again. And then He showed me how confidence has been at the center of it all, all along, and I kept missing it. But now it’s been found.
(And that’s sort of the story behind why “confidence” is my word of 2017.)
Dear friend, here’s a call for you. Whether you’ve had deep brokenness or not, we are all in a sense broken vessels… that are still beautiful and full of purpose that God wants to mend and use.
Be confident in Him. Learn His promises and who He says you are.
Live confidently for Him. Use your skills and gifts and story for His glory.