Megan is Founder and Executive Director of Give Her Wings. She carries a Masters in Pastoral Counseling and is certified in Crisis Response with the AACC. She has also recently finished her CPE Unit 1 training.
I have heard about and read a lot about the stages of healing. Knowing that what we are dealing with, emotionally, is of vital importance. As we heal, we begin to recognize our patterns of behavior and where we are in the process. Understanding the stages of healing and/or the stages of grief normalizes our reactions to the abnormal (loss and abuse). I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about the process we go through BEFORE we begin to heal because that is where Give Her Wings steps in. We try to be a safety net for the broken. It is our mercy ministry.
I believe that understanding the stages of brokenness will help us to re-frame what is happening, when everything feels like chaos. We often think of being broken as negative . . . but I don’t believe that, anymore. Jesus’ body was broken (for us). And He speaks, often, of being broken as necessary to finding authentic humanity. Further, Paul describes his brokenness distinctly (being crushed, pressed doesn’t from all sides, struck down, persecuted, afflicted in every way . . . ). It seems as though we will go to incredible lengths to stop this devastation from happening and then it just does. But, why? Because we signed up for this life . . . we “drank from this cup” when we chose to follow Christ. He told us this would happen but to “take heart” because He has overcome the world. But, most of all . . . we are broken because we have to be in order to be re-built, restored, redeemed. A seed cannot grow unless it is crushed. We are crushed in order to be all that Jesus wanted us to be — the best version of ourselves for His glory. That’s pretty remarkable. And it flies in the face of those who tell us we simply need to be crushed for Jesus forever and amen. No, we are broken to become what He meant for us to be: beautiful, life-giving, children of God. So, let’s re-frame. We want victory. It is coming. But can we embrace our brokenness as extremely painful, knowing that healing is coming? It is beautiful-agonizing, breathtaking in all the right and wrong ways. And, somehow, that’s good news!
If you are being broken, please take heart. All of us who know Jesus are, too. Further, there is a great cloud of witnesses cheering you on. They get it. They know this hard work that is called life. And you will find beauty as you heal. For now . . . in this state of brokenness, read on . . . this has to happen before healing. Where do you find yourself here?
- The Crash: For so long, abuse victims maintain a shiny, hard front, much like the hardness of a kernel of wheat or corn. Upheld by a flimsy stalk that we have built as we cover for abuse and shame, we realize that the stalk is only a house of cards. We cannot hide our pain, anymore. We have to realize that our situation is abusive . . . that we are not, in fact, the perfect family . . . that our spouse or church or both are dangerous. And it is terrifying. For so long, we believed that we could hold it together, that he wasn’t “that bad”, that our actions (as good and submissive wives) would change him. We realize that he is jello. We realize that we can’t single-handedly change this man and save our marriage. We realize that our children are in danger. We realize that, for all of our “good decisions”, everything really is a great, big mess. And our world is weird and strange and completely out of order. It was a façade. We do not get to be that “holy and sanctified” family that we thought we were, as we sat atop that stalk of wheat looking out over others. We start to fall. We stumble . . . it is over. We feel like we are perishing as we tumble toward the unknown. And everyone is watching it happen. People pull away. We crash to the ground and it HURTS.
- The Devastation: We hit the cold earth hard and we are plunged into darkness. During this time, which can take YEARS, we cannot see anything around us. We cannot find our way. We are split open and it feels exactly like that. Split open. Our souls, our guts, our physical health all gush out for everyone to see. Gone is that shiny veneer; gone is that hope for a healthy marriage. We find ourselves in a dark place we NEVER thought we would be. It is cold and dry and then wet with tears. We reach out and find nothing but blackness. We are temporarily blind . . . like Saul-Paul. We reach further. Our friends are gone; our family; our church; our people; our tribe. We keep reaching. With no anchor to be found, we start to anchor to the truth. Finally . . . we accept that we simply are not the person we thought we were. Strength is replaced by a fragile depth, tiny wisps begin to take hold, becoming sinuous, as roots find nourishment and begin to form. Because we cannot see, we begin to see. We are starting to become firm. All of the brokenness seems to be creating something but we cannot see it, yet. So, we let go more . . . and we begin to trust. We trust that God is doing something with us. We surrender to it because we are deep in the earth and we might as well release. We hope that God will make something of this incredibly. tangled. mess. We let go. Brokenness kind of becomes a daily activity. And in the inky, dirty darkness, we are undone. Please God . . . I need you. I cannot do this alone. Make something of me. I’m ready. I’m just myself now and I feel naked. This isn’t the life I had hoped for. I have nothing left but You. Take it. Take all of me.
- The Tilt: This is the best term I can think of for the minuscule movement of our faces from looking down at our mess to looking up to the light. With roots plunging downward into the anchor of darkness, we finally look up to God and pop our heads up for a little bit of air. Jesus, the Merciful One, takes His gentle hand and, in answer to our whimpers toward Him, cups our little chins and lifts them upwards toward dignity. We see nothing but grace in Jesus’ beautiful eyes. Acceptance, kindness, love and mercy begin to course through our veins in a rush of provision as our thirst is quenched. That broken seed begins to sprout into something beautiful . . . but we cannot see it, yet. It is tender and it is barely there — but it is there. And we don’t know what that will look like, yet. It is a glimmer of hope — a glimpse of Heaven. Maybe we have a good day, now and then. Maybe it is being able to encourage someone else just one time, rather than always feeling like the one in need. Maybe is journaling and finally finding a bit of a voice. Please don’t step on her. She is so fragile. Can you help by watering this little plant? Give her some room and some light. Help to clear away the weeds of self-doubt and lies. Though she be small right now, she has a mighty root system. And time will only tell what kind of bloom and impact she will have on this world. It is miraculous to behold.
Only after all of this happens can she begin to heal. And find victory. And be that beautiful, complex, life-giving, over-flowing, gushing-out-beauty forest. Do you hear me? There is a lush forest inside that seed. THAT is the purpose of our brokenness. To become life-giving. THAT is beauty. Hear me, please: Jesus died and then rose again. If anyone is telling you that you are to die to die . . . . well, that is death forever. We are crushed-but-not-destroyed to become what God always wanted us to become . . . . what He died for us to become.To give us life. And by doing so, we start to give that life to others. That is very different than sacrificing our selves, our safety and sanity for no good reason.
Broken? Yes. But hear me out: There is a forest inside that seed. Keep stretching; keep moving; keep digging.
*PS . . . If you are wondering if I plagiarized this, I did. I took it right out of John 12:24. I don’t think that Jesus will mind . . .