We all knew who the culprit was. When we asked my son to admit what he did and apologize, he stood looking at the floor with an expression of fixed defiance on his face. “Look at me,” my husband said firmly but gently. My son closed his eyes. He wanted to do anything and everything but admit that he disobeyed.
It was as if I was watching miniature me in the presence of God. Pretending my own brokenness doesn’t exist, I avoid looking in his face. I worship half-heartedly. I want to do anything but admit that I’m broken.
The Bible tells us repeatedly that we live in a fallen world and we are broken. That’s why we need Jesus! So, why is it so hard for us to face our own brokenness? We regard broken things as useless. We throw them away. Brokenness is not efficient. Brokenness doesn’t work right.
We despise brokenness so much that avoiding it is our autopilot. Being aware of our avoidance tendencies can help us face our brokenness so that we can take the path to healing and repentance.
Here are five ways we try to avoid our own brokenness and the only way we can face our brokenness in hope.
1. Numbing Ourselves With Entertainment
Numbing ourselves can be as extreme as addiction or as seemingly mundane as watching TV. I’m not saying watching TV is bad, but if our motive for it is to avoid introspection, then we might be avoiding our brokenness. If we are binge-watching The Office for the 5th time while avoiding opening our Bibles, then we might be avoiding our brokenness.
Another sign that we may be numbing ourselves with entertainment is when we become intolerant of boredom. When we desperately search for the next thing to do, we are avoiding sitting in quiet. Quiet might bring up things inside of ourselves that we do not want to think on.
We can only numb ourselves for so long before we become a shell of who we were created to be. Numbing may ease the pain of brokenness for a moment, but it will only make it worse in the long-run.
2. Avoiding Honesty in Our Time with God
If we are avoiding time alone with God, then we may be avoiding our own brokenness. This avoidance can also be more subtle. We can check the box of our “quiet time” off without really giving God all of who we are. We are still avoiding our own brokenness.
3. Pointing Fingers
Isn’t it funny how when we want to avoid our own brokenness, we start to see it in everyone else? We silently judge others for the very things with which we ourselves struggle. We fixate on the sins of others because it feels like we are productively hating sin. However, we are avoiding facing the hate of our own sin.
We pass blame for our own short-comings because we don’t want to admit that we are broken. Broken might mean we are useless. Broken might mean we will be thrown out. So, we do our best to throw the other person under the bus before they toss us out for good.
If you are a parent, there is a pain in seeing your own sin and brokenness in your child. We try to fix it by worrying, researching, nagging- because if we can fix it in them, then maybe we can fix it in ourselves.
In the judging, blaming, and fixing we only find that there is more chipped off from our souls than we realized. The brokenness feels more than we can handle-because it is.
4. Covering Up Our Brokenness
When Adam and Eve committed the first sin, they broke all of humanity. Their response? They hid from God and covered their shame with leaves. Ever since then, we’ve been desperately joining the masquerade.
We shift blame; we hide behind achievements and a false sense of righteousness; we play the role others want us to play; we suffer in secrecy-all to hide from our brokenness and to conceal our brokenness from others.
Our souls can masquerade for only so long before the cracks begin to show and the whole vessel, mask and all, shatters on the floor. When we mask our brokenness, we are just buying time for a greater disaster.
5. Tolerating Brokenness and Playing it Down
“It’s not THAT bad. I’m at least not as bad as her. I’ll make up for it later.” How many times have we had these thoughts when convicted by the Holy Spirit? To avoid our own brokenness, we chase away the Holy Spirit’s conviction.
Tolerance becomes habit. Habit becomes addiction. Addiction becomes our god. Our soul crumbles to ashes.
Putting hope in avoiding our brokenness only leads to ashes, but we have a God who offers us the beauty of his imputed righteousness in exchange for our ashes. (Isaiah 61:3) We have a Savior who embraces all of our brokenness, sweeps it up, and turns it into a magnificent vessel that brings Him honor and glory.
We can face our brokenness because of Jesus. He took our shame on the cross so there is no more need to hide. Our brokenness no longer defines who we are. It doesn’t have that power. Only Jesus gets to define us and he calls us beloved.