Hiding our Brokenness

Birthday Cake

One week ago, my son celebrated his 4th birthday.  Yes, I’m still pinching myself a bit over the fact that my baby is 4 years old!

We had a birthday party and he wanted a round cake with orange and blue icing. I’m no cake-maker, but I was pleased with the way it turned out. Even though this cake isn’t perfect it looks pretty decent, right?

But all those layers, and all that icing were hiding something.  My cake had a secret.

That bottom layer?  It really looked like this:

Brokenness

That bottom layer was broken. It was in pieces.

And it reminded me of something important–we’re all hiding brokenness of some sort.

It is so easy to fall into the comparison trap. It’s easy to look at Suzy-Put-Together and think I wish I could be as perfect as her. But sometimes we forget that we only see what Suzy-Put-Together shows us. When we peruse facebook, when we read blogs, when we see someone at church…we’re seeing the highlights.

We’re seeing what they want us to see. 

Before you start wishing you could be perfect like Suzy-Put-Together, remember there is probably a broken layer there somewhere.  Because we are all broken people. We’re all sinners. Not one of us is perfect. But it can be easy to get down on ourselves when we’re constantly bombarded with images of perfection.

And it’s a vicious cycle.  Because the more we hide, the more we feel like we need to hide. Until we’re left with only a shell of authentic fellowship.  We’re left with people who can’t even repent, because that would mean admitting they’ve fallen short, that they’re weak, flawed, and imperfect. And we can’t do that.  (<–Tweet this!)

We’re left with people who are scared, intimidated, and feel unworthy of both Christ’s salvation and His church, because they can’t measure up to the level of perfection that we’ve created.

We’re left with divorce, pornography, addiction, and all manner of sins and bondage within the church, because we aren’t allowed to talk about those things. We aren’t allowed to admit our brokenness.

Judgment and rejection are swift punishment for breaking the unwritten rule.

And so we have the “stained-glass masquerade” as Mark Hall from Casting Crowns so eloquently put it.  (If you haven’t heard the song, you can listen to it here.)

Here is a snippet:

Is there anyone that fails? Is there anyone that falls?
Am I the only one in church today feelin’ so small?

Cause when I take a look around everybody seems so strong.
I know they’ll soon discover that I don’t belong

The words make me sad. I want to offer acceptance and comfort to this imaginary person, but I know she’s not so imaginary.  She’s you and me.

So what do we do about it? How can we break the cycle?

1. Be open and authentic and vulnerable. I’m not talking about airing all our dirty laundry, but there is benefit for everyone when we open up and admit our mistakes. When we can admit our failures and work on them together in community, it’s a beautiful thing.  And it’s an encouragement to others who are struggling as well. God’s word calls us in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 to walk with one another.

2. Be accepting. We shouldn’t condone sin. But we should love one another to listen with an open heart and be willing to love one another enough to help them through their struggles, instead of merely offering judgment.  Later in the song, the singer speculates:

But would it set me free, if I dared to let you see
The truth behind the person that you imagine me to be

Would your arms be open or would you walk away
Would the love of Jesus be enough to make you stay

We need to work harder at living out the love of Jesus. We need to make church and fellowships be a safe place where people can be helped up and not pushed down further.

Comments

  1. says

    Amen, Crystal. You’re so right – all of us are broken in some areas of our lives, and being broken is the only way we can truly understand the love of Jesus. We need to show that side to HIM, and to each other!

    • Crystal says

      Yes, Regina! “Being broken is the only way we can truly understand the love of Jesus.” That is so true.

  2. says

    So, so good Crystal!! I couldn’t agree more. We need to be accepting of brokenness, I think it’s a necessity to help others heal, too. We’re fooling ourselves if we think the world is a perfect place. It’s not, and we need to work with what we have and remember the redemption we have in Christ–and that other’s have it as well!

    I’ve heard it said before: we often judge ourselves by our intentions, and judge others by their actions.

    Such a bad place to be!!

    • Crystal says

      Yes, Christin, that is so true! Hubby and I were talking the other night about how great it would be if we looked at others with the mercy and grace we want for ourselves when we mess up.

  3. says

    This has been one of those major lessons God’s been teaching me over the last few years. When we begin to be open in our brokenness, others begin to share their brokenness as well, which leads to healing for us and for them. Brokenness can lead to such beauty if we’ll let it. Thanks for sharing this post…excellent truth.

  4. Beth Cranford says

    Well said Crystal. Comparing ourselves to someone who seems to have it all together is fruitless and dangerous on so many levels. And believing that we're the only ones with "issues" does lead to the things you spoke about.

    I'm concerned about two things though, when we talk about the need for transparency. These aren't anything I'm seeing in your article, just things I'm seeing in connection with this topic.

    First, I think it needs to be noted that we don't need to be fully transparent with everyone. I could write a whole article on why that wouldn't be helpful to anyone. What's important is that we have a few trusted people in our lives with whom we can be completely open. As far as the rest of the people in your circle of influence, we need to make sure we're not promoting an image of being perfect. I think it's possible to let the world know you're not "all that" without sharing the details everyone you know.

    The other concern is a trend that I'm seeing in which we are beginning to celebrate our "issues". We want so badly to shake this trend of pretending we're perfect that we're going to the opposite extreme and almost bragging about our problems. Neither extreme is acceptable. It's like you said, we don't condone sin, but we lovingly support each other.
    I think any time we as humans discover something we've gotten not-quite-right, we have a tendency to overcompensate and make it just as wrong by going to the other extreme. I'm not saying you're doing that at all. I'm just talking about what I'm seeing in other discussions about this whole transparency thing.
    I'd love for us to find a way to improve in this area of transparency without going from the frying pan into the fire.
    Great thoughts Crystal. I think you brought up some very important things for us to be thinking about.

    • Crystal says

      Beth, thanks for joining in the discussion :)

      I completely agree that we don’t need to share all our secrets with everyone…lol. I do think it’s important for us to, as you say, “make sure we’re not promoting an image of being perfect.” And while it doesn’t always need to be all the details, I think there are times when sharing more details can be used for good, but we have to use discernment in that. And, I think the way those details are shared is very important as well–are we sharing to vent, to help someone else, or grow ourselves, etc.

      Oh, I completely agree with you about the dangers of celebrating our issues! I think it is completely unbiblical for us to be bragging about any kind of sinful behavior, but yes I have seen it as well. I think there is a need for authenticity because through that we can help one another (and ourselves) move beyond those issues. We should never be content to just stay there.

  5. says

    I have to admit, I wanted to post this on my Facebook prayer group, but I wasn’t ready to post my brokenness, I have a lot to work on!

  6. says

    Oh, I loved this post Crystal. It reminded me of the flop of a cake I made recently for my husband. In fact, I posted pictures of it on my ChristianSuperMom page just because it’s so important to me that my readers know I’m not perfect. But you’re right. It totally goes deeper than our cake baking skills. I’m so sinful and so flawed. Thank goodness for God’s mercy and grace! :) By the way, in case you missed my cake mess…here’s the link to the FB post about it (hopefully this works…I’ve never posted a FB link in a comment before. Lol!) https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=491820174223363&set=a.130112660394118.25517.126943697377681&type=1&theater

  7. says

    I love this, Crystal, and I appreciate greatly the need to be open, yet not airing all the ugly stuff with the rest of the world. God gives us discernment for a reason, and as we share our brokenness with those who He calls us to do so with, we and they grow in our walk with God.

  8. says

    Crystal this post is beautiful. I have constantly thought about this. As a blogger I feel responsible to not only share the good, but my struggles as well so my readers know they’re not alone, that I’m not perfect and it’s okay. I always tell people Jesus doesn’t expect us to be perfect because we can’t be, what He does expect is our willingness to serve Him. I remember when a good friend of mine became one of my best friends. When I had observed her from a distance I thought she had it all together, was strong, brave, and never failed at anything. Once we became closer and we openly shared struggles with each other I realized that she experienced the same obstacles, failed at the same challenges and felt insignificant at times. I still admired her; even more so, but it was a comfort to me and encouraged me. We found we could encourage each other through our weaknesses. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

  9. says

    We are neighbors over at Behind the Scenes today and I am so glad we are! I loved this post… this has been my life message for over a decade now – to live out loud…. to be real, authentic… and full of grace… great word! (and the cake looks delicious!)

I love to hear your feedback and value your thoughts! All I ask is that we remain respectful and civil, even when we disagree. Thanks so much for reading. I appreciate you!

Thank you for joining in the discussion!