The Broken In Between

Anthony sent me a text several weeks ago.  It was a screen shot of a tweet, “The Bible says, ‘Love Never Fails’, so if it fails, just know it wasn’t love” Anthony said in his text, “Modern Christians just really don’t seem to actually understand Christianity, and they spread false statements like that.”

I understood this place he was coming from. I know the frustration of just wanting someone to see your pain, broken heart, you grief and NOT hear the perfectly tidy platitudes.  I replied, “People want it to be nice, neat and tidy. The Cross is testimony to the exact opposite. Broken, ugly, painful, destructive, is a much better picture of Christianity than “love never fails”. Christ’s love never fails, but our love is full of failures.”  His reply, ” Exactly. I just hate that people continually preach Christianity as an opiate that makes you feel good and makes your pain disappear. It’s supposed to make us more aware of pain in the world, not make us numb to it.”

True and wise words from my son.   We, I, so many of you, are in the place of the broken in between.  The place no one really wants to be.  The place of the pain and ugly, the place of the cross. Where all of our humanity is displayed as a broken and torn, painful, forsaken mess. We want the revolutionary, turn things upside down, rebels with a cause for the least, the lost, the suffering, the marginalized, Christ ministry before the Cross. Or the taken up in a great cloud, reunited, sanctified, redeemed, Christ of the Resurrection.  Both of those we are to be. Every day, all day. We are to live the words of Christ in our own lives, the words He spoke while He walked the earth, fully human and the words He spoke as the Risen Savior, fully human and fully God. But we don’t want the ministry of the Cross. We want the benefits, the results of the Cross, sins forgiven, death defeated. We want the before and the after, but not the Cross.

The Cross calls us to bear unbearable pain. Ourselves. Each of us. The Cross calls us to be witnesses to unbearable pain. Ourselves. Each of us. If we want to see and know a love that never fails we have to find it through the Cross. There is no other way to have love that never fails. It has to pass through the Cross. Love that never fails, without the Cross, are just words we use to comfort ourselves or others. Untested, untried, unproven.  Words are easy. We use those words like a shield around ourselves. If we can place our pain, grief, suffering in a category that is nice and tidy, we can separate ourselves from the possibility of failing love happening to us. If your love is failing, then obviously it wasn’t really love, therefore, I am immune in my really real and true, unfailing love.

Oh how much of Jesus we miss in the before and the after and avoiding the suffering of the cross. Jesus, who’s love never fails, proved His love for you and for me, through the pain, brokenness, sorrow, suffering, rejection, agony of the Cross. It is the only truly unfailing love. Over the last year or so I have been more open to sharing my pain and grief, my own brokenness. I do so in an effort to find some peace, to find a way to release some of the pressure that builds up within me from carrying this burden of brokenness around day after day. The times I share are times that I felt the Lord asking me to share, to trust Him with my sorrow.  Every time, almost immediately after hitting share, I regret it. I want to take it down. Unshare. Because this pain is real and my brokenness is so very tender and I need to protect myself. Protect myself from people with good intentions who say things that inflict a little more pain upon me. I know that they don’t mean to. I believe there are very, very, very few evil people in this world, the rest of us…. just fail at loving. Regardless, it inflicts another little wound upon me when it happens. The implications that I must not have really wanted it, prayed right or confessed a sin, or that I just need to trust the Lord more, or maybe, I just don’t really know love.  This last year or so, I have discovered, I don’t know another way to say it, I already knew it, I always know it, but every time, it’s like I discover it all over again, when we share our pain, it gives other people the opportunity to share theirs. I have received so many messages, texts, calls and had conversations, after my posts, providing the opportunity to receive healing myself, encouragement through the painful journey others have walked before me and the opportunity to look to another and recognize their pain, I can’t fix it, change it, heal it, use it for good, but I can walk with you, as the Lord does all those things for you. I can sit with you, walk with you, or acknowledge your pain, the only comfort that I can provide is that you aren’t alone. I see you. I see your pain. I see that it is different and yet the same. I see that it can’t be wrapped up nice and neat, tidy. I see your pain doesn’t just go away. And I can {not} be one who tells you the things that we want to say to ease our own discomfort in the midst of pain. Pain is miserable. There is no pain like the pain you are experiencing. To see pain in others makes us uncomfortable. We begin to squirm and look for a way out of it, to be able to back away, put a shield of protection around ourselves. Pain is just so…vulnerable.  We do not want to find ourselves there. It makes us uncomfortable to see that much vulnerability in others. We would rather look away, or cover it up.  There is something that happens in the broken in between that cannot occur anywhere else. It cannot occur in the before or in the after.

The real rawness, a deep and true love, one that looks upon each of us and says, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” A love that looks upon a mother and recognizes the unbearable grief and sorrow of a mother who has walked this journey to the cross, witnessed the pain and suffering, sees death settling upon her son, and in his pain and suffering he can truly see and know her pain and suffering. ” Woman, here is your son.” She knew the before, she knew there would be an after, but here in the broken in-between, she would need a beloved disciple to help her walk her painful journey, they would need each other.  He didn’t tell her not to weep, because, He had a plan, He didn’t remind her of His promised resurrection, He didn’t try to divert her pain with visions of heaven, He didn’t speak words of platitudes, He didn’t try to make it tidy and clean, He didn’t try to lessen or minimize it through the light of His own pain and suffering,  He saw her pain, her grief and her sorrow. He recognized it and acknowledged it and did the only thing possible, the only thing that truly makes the different in this broken in-between, he made sure she would not journey alone.





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