Picking up the Pieces: 4 Thoughts About Personal Brokenness

Have you ever said, “What just happened?” Me too.

Last winter, I had one of “those” mornings. As I’m leaving for the day, I’m doing my best to be careful pulling my car out of the garage and I destroyed my driver’s-side mirror.

I remember being physically exhausted.  My mind was wide awake saying “You’re too close. Adjust the wheel” but the rest of me wasn’t responding. It was this slow-motion moment as I my car and garage met leaving a trail of my mirror all the way down my driveway. I put my car in park and just sat there in disbelief at what transpired.

[Enter joke about “objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”]

I was in shock. I’ve pulled out of the garage hundreds of times and have never had that happen. A simple daily moment turned into disaster. I got out of the car and walked back toward the house picking up the shattered fragments of what used to be attached to my car. I stuck the broken mirror casing back onto my car thinking I can still used it as it still had a chunk of mirror left on it. (I know, ridiculous isn’t it?)

When I got to my coffice (coffeehouse + office), I did some quick research and hit up Amazon Prime to get a new mirror in the matter of a few days.  And sure enough it was there by Wednesday. So I set it by the door so to motivate me and, yet, it sat there for a few months.

For the next week, I found myself continuing to pick up the pieces of something I thought I was done cleaning up. As the snow melted, more pieces were revealed. I was astonished at how far the damage was spread from the point of impact. Even early this fall, while cutting my lawn, I found a large piece. I remember thinking to myself, “I thought I was done with this? How is it that I’m still dealing with this after all of this time?

While you may not have destroyed your mirror, I think many of you can relate to my “Monday moment.” Has anything ever impacted you and has left you feeling like:

  • You keep picking up the pieces of something that has happened to you. 
  • You didn’t anticipate at how far the damage was spread.
  • You’re just living life, and something happens that makes you say,I thought I was done with this? How is it that I’m still dealing with this after all of this time?

Me too. I get it. And I thought I’d share some lessons I learned.

My crazy schedule gave me every excuse to NOT fix the mirror. Sometimes busyness will sedate issues and distract you from dealing with things. Just because you no longer feel momentary pain doesn’t mean the issue is completely healed. Busyness is something I’ve learned to hide behind as it’s my drug of choice. If I can stay busy, then I don’t have to deal with it. But the more I put off the issue, the deeper the issue sets in me. Which leads to…

I learned to live with my brokenness. There was a fraction of mirror left in the casing and I got used to using it. I’ll admit I cut off a few people in traffic after not seeing them. But on the most part, I thought I was having “success” in accommodating to living with a “broken vision” of what things around me.  And the more I got used to it, the motivation for getting it fixed has waned. “I’ll deal with it another time” became my primary way to procrastinate dealing with this.

I needed to access what was provided. The new mirror was there and ready for installment. I waked by it every day. I’d even think to myself, “someday I’ll get it fixed…someday things will be back to normal.” What I find often in my life is a propensity to deal with things on my own instead of accessing what has been provided in Christ. I don’t think we have a lack of God wanting to move in our lives. I think we have a lack of us accessing what He has provided in Jesus.  It’s almost overwhelming how much access to healing, peace, love, and joy we have. Yet, quite often, we attempt to deal with things on our own. We need to access what God provides. 

Allow God to work through others. I’ll admit it was pride keeping me from asking for help. “I can do this” was my mantra. It was a friend (love ya Kevin) that came over for another purpose who looked and said “Let me help.” Kevin did in a few minutes what I thought was going to be a longer and harder process. It took someone with kindness and experience to help me in my point of need and walk me through how to move forward. But the key: I needed to allow him to help. Please don’t allow your pride to stop you from asking for AND accepting help.  Allow those with the kindness and experience to meet you in your point of brokenness. 

Is this you? Has something happened that makes you seem like you’re still picking up the pieces? I get it. And my “getting it” goes far beyond a stupid car mirror. I understand what it’s like to sedate my pain with something else. I get thinking I have to live with what happened feeling like I’m damned to living this way for the rest of my life.

But explore you: Don’t let a broken moment dictate the rest of your destiny.  Your life is worth more, your marriage is worth more, and your children are worth more than that impact has dealt you. Access the abundant available in Christ. I’m not promising a one-time-fix-all moment but daily access to the peace, joy, love, and healing you’ve been looking for.

Have I finished picking up pieces from that impact. I hope so. But each time I find another piece, I don’t remember how much I’ve lost but I embrace how far God has brought me.

Love you all. I’m praying for you today.

Broken Trust: 8 Ways to rebuild trust back into your marriage.

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds Psalm 147:3

Trust is a necessary element and is the foundation of every healthy relationship. In fact, trust is the security that makes intimacy possible in marriage. Like an organism, it must be nurtured and not ignored. My dad taught me years ago.  

“Trust is like fine china; it’s beautiful to have but it can be broken quickly.  And to fix it, it takes a lot of time, effort, and patience to put it back together.”

That’s stuck with me for years.  I don’t know any other accurate way to describe the value and fragility of trust.

I’ve never met a relationship that hasn’t encountered difficulties with trust.  I would even argue that most difficulties in relationships stem directly from a breach of trust.  I’m not saying everyone has had devastating circumstances, but we all have had moments where trust, on some level, has been compromised.

Marriage requires strong trust.  So I’m giving you a list that may give you a few ways to build it (or rebuild it).

1 – Trust does not equal forgiveness. Forgiveness and trust are two different things. When you’ve been wronged, you should give forgiveness instantly (which is “Grace”), but you should build your trust slowly. Forgiveness by it’s very nature cannot be earned; it can only be given. Therefore, we forgive the way God forgives us: instantly. Trust by it’s very nature cannot be given; it can only be earned…built. For that, it takes time and effort (reference the opening illustration about the cup). Forgiveness has to come first and then grace can pave the way to restoration and renewed trust.

2 – Stop dancing around the subject.  Be open and honest. Take responsibility.  “The devil made me do it doesn’t work.” Healthy steps forward begins with complete and utter transparency. The offender must own his or her sin without any “yeah-buts.” It’s not okay to say, “I’m sorry I hurt you and let you down, but . . . ” It’s never okay to rationalize or justify sin. Ever. The only way to rebuild trust is to take full responsibility for our actions. Period. It’s also critical for the offended person to do some self-assessment as well. Broken trust is rarely 100% the other person’s fault.

3 – Humility is king.  We love to cover up the embarrassment of our faults.  Don’t be defensive, righteous, or casual about the problem. It’s nothing more than a smoke screen trying to distract away from what needs to be dealt with. There must be a sincere heart as well as honest effort to work out the issues.  If you are the one who is at fault, the more defensive/righteous/casual you are, the less you are able to hear what your spouse has to say, and the worse their hurt will get.

4 – Don’t obsess.  Whether you were wronged or you were the perpetrator, take steps forward by letting go of the past. When you obsess over each insult, each act, each thing done wrong – you are not giving yourself time to heal from it. You need to heal in order to begin to trust again.  If you’re hurt by your spouse’s actions, work on releasing and moving forward.  Living in the past continues to open up the wound.  If you’re the one who did the hurting, stop fixating on your fault.  If God has forgiven you and your spouse has forgiven you, then you need to forgive YOU.

5 – Accountability; Be an open book. That means open your cell phone, calendar, email, and social media to your spouse. (Free Marriage Tip: Anytime you are feeling the need to hide something from your spouse should be a red flag…unless it’s a surprise birthday gift.) Accountability is usually the hardest part. Why? People feel entitled to privacy. The problem is that smacks against the “oneness” that marriage is called to operate in.  Be willing to temporarily give up some freedoms.  At this point, you will need to take a moment and ask yourself what is really important: your relationship or your privacy? It really comes down to that.

6 – Patience and hard work.  Time doesn’t heal everything but it applies to every part of the healing process.  Just as you can’t make a wound on your arm heal, you can’t make the heart heal overnight.  A gift doesn’t make the hurt go away. Sex doesn’t make the problem disappear.  You need a patience heart, listening ears, and intentional and consistent actions that will aid in the rebuilding of trust.   Set some goals.  Work on them together.  Review the results and reward the efforts (not the results).  

7 – Practice the three As daily: Affection, Attention and Appreciation. Communicate with words and actions to your partner how much you love and appreciate them in big and small ways every day.  Speak in their love languages and help them understand you are desiring health and healing.  If you are the offended, your spouse feels like a failure and you do NOT want to keep them there.  If you are the offender, make sure you stay engaged with your spouse.  Let them know you are a trust-builder more than a trust-breaker.

8 – Get some help.  Don’t be afraid to seek out counseling with a trusted advisor whether it’s a marriage counselor or a pastor.  Even though it’s easy to get help from a friend, you need to find someone who is non-partial and as some wisdom to speak some Godly wisdom into your marriage.  Make sure the help is for the both of you.  (Another marriage tip:  avoid involving other family members because it can exacerbate the situation.)

I return to our opening scripture, 

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds Psalm 147:3

I believe everything we do in life should model who God is. He is the healer of brokenness.  He doesn’t leave us in a fractured state.  And just as God moves toward us in that manner, we should model that in every area of our life…ESPECIALLY our marriage.

Be a rebuilder of trust. Bind up the brokenness in your marriage.

Be known as a healer…just like our savior is.  

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Pain is Our Common Denominator: 5 things I want to share with you about pain

Do you feel pain? Have you ever been in agony? From stubbing your toe in the middle of the night to having your heart-broken by someone, it seems we all have experienced elements of pain. The rare medical condition of CIP (Congenital Insensitivity to Pain) exists.  It’s one of many physical statuses in which a person cannot feel (and has never felt) physical pain.  Some would see CIP as an absolute blessing.  I think, when playing football, how much more courage I’d have if pain was never an issue.  It’d change the way we drive.  Think of the boldness people would have in public knowing that there’s nothing that others could do that would inflict pain.  But for even those with CIP, I’d say there are two observations: 

  1. Just because there’s an absence of pain, doesn’t mean there is no damage.   
  2. No physical pain doesn’t make you immune from pain (mentally and emotionally). 

Pain is the common denominator we all share. No matter what the pain is, we all know what pain feels like.  But we need to realize that people feel pain differently. I know people who have physical fortitude to push through fatigue and physical discomfort but are emotionally brittle. Yet, I’ve sat in hospital rooms of individuals (like my grandmother) who, physically were very fragile, but strongholds of emotional stability.  No matter how strong you are (emotional, physical, mental, spiritual), there is a level of pain and a type of pain you are, most likely, susceptible to. 

Pain is in our humanity and there’s 5 things I want to share with you about pain:

1. Pain can be a gift.  I can’t say that it’s a gift I’m always thankful for. I’m not a masochist…I don’t enjoy pain.  But to step back for a moment and think about it. Pain causes us to stop and pause.  It tells us to proceed cautiously or to retreat quickly.  Its pangs grants us the favor, yes favor, of aches and anguish to help provide dividing lines of healthy and unhealthy living.  When we feel the pain of a broken relationship, our shredded heart reminds us how caring we are and how much we were built for relationships.  Our brokenness guides us for something more that what we are presently tasting.  If you’ve experienced pain caused by someone else, the pangs are there to let us know that the treatment you received isn’t healthy and, therefore, shouldn’t be tolerated or condoned. For those who have CIP, they struggle with continuing to injure themselves because there isn’t the sensation of pain to warn/help them through damage that’s happening to their body.  Without pain, not only would we demolish most relationships, we would destroy ourselves. As much as it hurts, pain can be a blessing.

2. Pain helps us sympathize and empathize.  Both empathy and sympathy are feelings concerning other people. Sympathy is literally means “feeling with.” Sympathy understands, exactly, the pain someone is dealing with because of your previous pain. Empathy, by contrast, is literally “feeling into.”  Empathy, helps us understand someone’s pain by “stepping in their shoes” and using your previous pain to be a reference point.  It’s the ability to project one’s personality into another person and more fully understand that person.   It’s through sympathy AND empathy we can help walk through difficult times with people and lead them to a place of healing.  Look at what you’ve been through.  Your story can trail-blaze hope for someone in turmoil. 

3. Pain doesn’t equate to gain. Some people think pain is necessary.  There are two types of them.  The first are those only happy when they are miserable.  It’s their identity.  They feed off of the drama and/or drawing others into their little narrative of their chaos.  The other are those that chase pain because they think they deserve it.  They invite it and see it as what they deserve for their poor choices.  For some reason, I’ve dealt with so many Christians who live in both of these camps. In church, reading the Scriptures, or during times of prayer, if he/she doesn’t feel “Godly sorrow,” then it wasn’t a productive or spiritual time. They forget that Christ bore our pain/shame/guilt upon the cross.  They need not bear it anymore.    Let me help, “Godly sorrow” is conviction that leads to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10).  The pain of guilt is designed to keep you where you are at.  Chase “Godly sorrow” and run from guilt.  Only one will relieve pain.  The other will keep you in it. 

4. Christ is close to us in our pain.  One of my favorite scriptures of all time is Psalm 34:18

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

To understand the heart of who God is, you need to see that while we were living in the pain of our iniquity…
…while we were incapable of doing anything about our condition
…when we couldn’t get to God
…he came close to us.  

Isaiah 53:3-5 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.

Christ can not just identify with our pain, he is close to us in our pain.  He went through agony on every level and understands our pain.  As much as he was abandoned in his darkest of nights, his promise to us, especially in our pain, is that he would never leave us or forsake us.  Our hurt doesn’t deter Jesus away from us. He is moved by our fractures and brokeness and he draws close to us to heal us. 

5. Our pain doesn’t have to be wasted.  Every experience is opportunity.  Every set-back can be a growth point for the future.  I remember when my daughter broke her arm at school, the doctor told me that the break, if it heals correctly, can heal stronger than it was before the break.  Don’t let your pain get wasted.  Don’t live in the darkness of your hurt.  As someone who deals with depression, it’s easy to indulge in your pain and let it be the identity you wear.  Your pain is an opportunity to let the glory of God heal you and shine brightly through your situation. John 11:4 says in The Message, 

“This sickness is not fatal. It will become an occasion to show God’s glory by glorifying God’s Son.”

We need to stop letting our pain become the final outcome.  If we’ll let Christ come into our hurt, he’ll bring us healing.  And he’ll utilize that pain, which was meant to poison and destroy our lives, be the antidote for someone else’s pain.  Every fracture is an opportunity to show the glory of God.

I can’t explain every pain we go through.  I still look back at painful moments and cannot wrap my brain around why things happened.  But it’s in the midst of my pain where I recognized who Jesus was.  He is “Immanuel: God with me (us).”  

He understood because he had been there.
He helps because he is there.
He heals because that’s who he is.  

I leave you with the scripture that spoke into one of the most painful moments of my life. 

Isaiah 43:1-2 “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

Frozen Tears: Dealing with loss during the holidays!

It’s been only a few days…

Christmas is the day after tomorrow, yet, with grandma not here, it doesn’t feel like the holiday is close at all.

The grieving process is different with Grandma Price.  The timing of finding out about her cancer…the quickness of her departure….the approaching of the holiday season…

I find myself…
…not broken down
…not frantic
…not consumed in emotion.

I’m, well, “reflective.”

It’s the only word I know to use right now.  It is the only adequate word that can describe my state of spirit.  I can’t say her death has dampened the holidays.  I think it’s given much more perspective than ever.  So, with a couple hours to write, I thought I’d ramble a bit before the funeral.

5 thoughts from the past few days…

1 – Allow people to grieve.  Grief is a very natural and perfectly acceptable thing for us as humans to feel. Eugene Peterson said,

“We don’t become more spiritual by being less human.”

Not sure why people are against the process of grief. Grieving isn’t a lack of faith in Jesus.  It’s the expression of sting that death leaves upon our flesh.  Grieving may include tears.  It may not.  What you need to do to process your grief may not be the same as other people.  It doesn’t mean it’s wrong (or right for that matter). As long as it’s not destructive/harmful, let people grieve the way they need to.

My grief over Grandma Price is different from what I went through with my other grandparents.  I don’t understand why it’s different.  I had moments of tears shed in private.  But, publicly, the emotions have been at peace.  My family, as individuals, are responding differently.  None of the responses are wrong. They’re different.  And that’s okay.

2 – Grief should be a place to visit and not to live. The death of my grandmother should not and cannot be allowed to rob me of the life I have left.  There is a season for everything, Within Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, we are told,

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die

I miss hearing the loud voice of Grandma speaking over the other family members because she couldn’t hear to well.  I’ll miss seeing her fall asleep in front of the TV.  But grief is not a place for me to stay.  It’s a season I must go through.  It’s a season that, in the world, is inevitable. But the promise we have in Christ is there is joy on the other side.  (Psalm 30:1-5).

3 – There are no magic words to make grief disappear.  I understand the scriptures.  I’ve studied them, preached them, counseled with them, and encouraged people with them.  They are a comfort in the midst of grief…but they don’t HIDE the grief.  The scriptures give me PERSPECTIVE through the grief.

God’s Word is more reliable than what my feelings. It gives me the vision I need to have when my emotions/feelings are everywhere.  I lean on the scriptures to help align my heart and mind with the promise of His presence.  Grief is the result of brokenness.  God is never so close to us as when we are in the place of brokenness (Psalm 34:18; Matthew 5:4).

4 – Life is short…embrace people.  Life is too brief to live in bitterness and anger.  I’ve heard it said,

“Bitterness is a like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

Drama is stupid.  I won’t play that game. Lingering on old issues, makes you, well, old.  Bitterness takes years off of your life and harden’s your heart.  It wears on your soul.  I’m convinced one of the greatest unsaid epidemics that is killing individuals, let alone families, is unforgiveness.  It’s time to move on and let go.  I’m thankful for the amazing wife, children, and family that has been a tremendous source of encouragement and strength (not just to me but to others).  I’ve seen family members step up during this difficult season and go above and beyond to be there for grandma.  They’re an amazing reminder: embrace people, shun the drama.

5 – The presence of Christ cannot be underestimated and/or replaced.  Life hurts.  Sometimes it just sucks. But he is Emmanuel, God WITH us. As stated on Sunday, he is not…

…God someday with us
…God sometimes with us
…God hopefully with us

His is WITH us.  Never abandoned.  Never alone.  I have moments of not sensing His presence and not hearing His voice. But those are not sufficient proofs that I have ever been alone.  Peace is recognizing the presence of God is with me regardless of what I feel or what I sense.  My joy isn’t built on the fault-line of my feelings.  It stable on the rock-solid foundation of who He is.

This Jesus is who Grandma Price trusted in.  This is who I’ve given my life to.  And He is the one who will lead us through and lead us forward.  Today I head into a service to honor her. But, even more importantly, I move forward into a life that honors the savior that she and I both live for.

I love you grandma.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

2 Minute Devos: Crash – Day 13

Today’s Scripture: John 11:32-36

Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him,“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping,

Error
This video doesn’t exist
he was deeply moved[a] in his spirit andgreatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

Crash Prayer Card 3

2 Minute Devo: “Faithful in a broken world”

Error
This video doesn’t exist
We started a new series this month called “His Faithfulness” We are looking at the faithfulness of God revealed to us in the scripture.  Take time to read the passage here on the blog or in your own bible.

Today’s scripture: Isaiah 25

O Lord, you are my God;
I will exalt you; I will praise your name,
for you have done wonderful things,
plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
2 For you have made the city a heap,
the fortified city a ruin;
the foreigners’ palace is a city no more;
it will never be rebuilt.
3 Therefore strong peoples will glorify you;
cities of ruthless nations will fear you.
4 For you have been a stronghold to the poor,
a stronghold to the needy in his distress,
a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat;
for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall,
5     like heat in a dry place.
You subdue the noise of the foreigners;
as heat by the shade of a cloud,
so the song of the ruthless is put down.

6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
7 And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
8     He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
9 It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
10 For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain,
and Moab shall be trampled down in his place,
as straw is trampled down in a dunghill.[a]
11 And he will spread out his hands in the midst of it
as a swimmer spreads his hands out to swim,
but the Lord will lay low his pompous pride together with the skill[b] of his hands.
12 And the high fortifications of his walls he will bring down,
lay low, and cast to the ground, to the dust.

2 Minute Devo: “Key Ingredient” Psalm 51

Error
This video doesn’t exist

October is our journey through the 2 minute series called “Resurrecting Repentance”.  It’s as simple as viewing the vlog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is Psalm 51:

Psalm 51

Have mercy on me,[a] O God,

    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right[b] spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.