I hate my brokenness.
I want it to end.
It’s been a tough week at work. The kind that leaves you feeling like a rusting wreck in the desert. Ever found yourself dreading going to work and finding out what little mistake is coming back to bite you this day? You’re breathing, so yes.
I know my weaknesses well. We’re old acquaintances. Not friends, though. I want them out of my life.
Tonight, though, I have to deal with the fact that they’re not conquered yet, that tomorrow hasn’t come yet, that the next opportunity to win hasn’t come yet. I have to deal with the shame and inadequacy that swarm toward this vulnerable chump like flies toward a carcass.
I’m reminded of a familiar saying.
God does not call the qualified; he qualifies the called.
But…there’s a but in my heart.
Oh, I know God uses broken people. He not only uses them, he insists on it. He does this, ironically, to ensure he receives the glory. If only the visibly whole were to succeed, they could boast. They could say, “I’m pulling it off. I’m doing good. I’m the sort of person God can use.” People watching them would assume that the key lies in competence, training, or intrinsic gifts rather than God. Indeed, that dynamic is already everywhere in our society. The narcissists and the naturals dominate, trampling the hearts of others. David had no shortage of laments for this in the Psalms; God assured him their position was only temporary.
For his own kingdom, God uses the deeply broken.
But…something in my heart doesn’t want that.
“NO!!!” it cries, pierced in the moment by embarrassment. “I don’t want my brokenness used, or hijacked, tolerated, indulged, or affirmed in any way. I want it gone! I want it overcome!”
Because of my embarrassment?
I’m supposed to be relying on God for my competence anyway. I’m supposed to be taking my shame to him. Am I instead looking to personal perfection to absolve and swallow up my shame?
Am I striving for perfection in order to feel better about myself, or to glorify God?
Maybe that’s why I’m not managing any of those three things.
Another query: am I blocking God from using my brokenness? I notice a lie streaking through my mind when I fail, something like this: “God can’t possibly use this mess. I have to get it right first.”
That’s a lie. One to be vaporized horribly.
So to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
That’s a verse I’ve long struggled to understand. Now, as I face some lingering weaknesses head-on, I’m starting to get it. Paul’s humility is clearly foremost among God’s priorities. Paul eventually learns that if he must struggle with a thorn, it is to be celebrated, not bemoaned, for he knows God will show up in his weakness.
Conversely, to allow our flaws to pull us away from God and leave us disqualified…that’s not what he wants. It may seem like a form of holiness, but it is, insanely enough, mere pride. Defining ourselves by our own system. Arrogance concealed within a false humility.
It’s quite a revolution in today’s world to appreciate one’s own brokenness. Not to indulge and worship it as a means of defiance, but simply to appreciate it. All the commercials holler at us about getting better (using their product); the high school and college cliques decide whether we’re in or out; hiring managers are drawn to the strong.
Real humility is letting God alone be the decider of our competence.
Real strength is letting God have our weaknesses as well as our strengths.
So I will go to work tomorrow morning…strong. Of all things. Not waiting to “get it right” to be strong, but strong now. By the will and arrangement of God.