I have been praying hard lately. I mean, prayer is always a part of my life, but I feel like my prayer time the last week has really distracted me from my daily work. I’m not sure I’m very comfortable with that, but considering I’m always feeling guilty that daily life is distracting me from God, I’ve decided to give into the “temptation” to pray too much.
I’ll tell you, it’s been powerful.
I haven’t slept in three nights. Well, maybe about three hours a night, but compared to my normal eight, that’s worth considering. In those dark hours, I have felt God calling me into prayer – a gentle but compelling ache for peace.
My prayers have been about brokenness – mine, others’, and the brokenness we witness on the cross. God, in his yet to be understood wisdom, gave me the gift of empathy. As such, my heart aches and bursts with those around me. Not just for them, but with them, all the time. It’s exhausting!
Lord, I so desperately want to heal all the brokenness I witness around me!
But I can’t. Damn it all, I can’t! I can’t fix the world. I can only love the world and try to lead it to the One who can fix all the brokenness.
God loved us into creation, perfect in His image.
Then Jesus, our Savior, takes all the brokenness our free-will creates, past, present and future – the sin, the hurt, the blame, the guilt, the regrets – and holds them to the Cross. He bears them on his shoulders in his own sinLESSness!
Like Jesus’ side or the shroud in the temple, this is the moment in our brokenness when we mere humans feel torn open. It’s painful. We learn that sin and heartbreak can make our hearts physically ache, sometimes all the way down to our fingertips and toes.
Yet, even as Jesus breathes his last, his loving, battered arms are outstretched to embrace us: to gather our broken hearts to him, to draw together the ragged edges of our wounds, to comfort us in our sorrow, our loss, our fear, and our confusion. Not only that, but his arms are open for those we’ve wounded and those have wounded us that we might all gather at his feet and cry for our broken world.
But the story does not end there. The grieving, the tears and the darkness of our brokenness has to be endured, walked through, and embraced. There is no going around it. It’s going to hurt. And as we wait, weary and teary, Jesus descends to hell, to face the cavernous blackness our sin creates. He pays our ransom to Satan. But then…
Jesus exits the tomb, brought back to life through the only Love that can heal brokenness. In the tomb where there was only darkness behind the stone, there is now light. Where there was death, there is now life. And for each of us, where there was brokenness, our wounds now bear the healing love of God.
And yet, even resurrected from death, Jesus is changed. He still bears the wounds, ragged and visceral, there for Thomas to touch and believe. We can point at the cross and say,
“That is how much we are loved.”
We too, still bear our wounds. But now, forgiven, our wounds are a place for healing to happen and a place through which God’s merciful healing can flow. Our brokenness is now a place where we can authentically meet and understand others. Our wounds now give us something to point to and say,
“These are how I know how deeply I am loved!”
And if we have any doubts left that God isn’t finished yet, the disciples gather in the upper room 40 days after Jesus’ resurrection. They have talked with him, touched his wounds, broken bread with him and still they are anxious, self-conscious, fearful. Sound familiar? We go to Mass, receive Jesus’ very body and blood, and hear his promises every Sunday and still, we are stressed, worried, and self-conscious.
And that is when God sends the Spirit. The Spirit literally descends on them, and us, to give gifts of wisdom, counsel, courage, fortitude, temperance, perseverance, love – all the things we so desperately need to keep trying! The Spirit gives us the tools to claim our brokenness through Christ and tell the rest of the world,
“God loves you this much too!”
I don’t have a unique food connection for this post. I suppose I could give you some recipe with a graham cracker crust or a lesson on the nourishing power of a seed, broken open, but this is so much more. This is the Spirit’s culmination of a week’s worth of prayer and sacrifice, which I couldn’t have planned if I tried.
I’ve included below a few links to resources on brokenness and healing that I have found helpful.
- A keynote from the 2015 World meeting of families given by Cardinal Tagle of the Philipines titled’ “Family: A Home for the Wounded Heart”
- A letter written by a young woman to herself when she was experiencing the most painful broken heart of her life. It reminds us that even when we can’t speak, eat, sleep or pray, we can simply cling to Jesus. You have to sign up for her emails, but it’s well worth it and she doesn’t send many.
- This song, sung by Chelsea Moon, is a reflective reminder that Jesus’ wounds already paid our ransom and healed our brokenness. ALL of it.
- Last but not least, go forth with confidence that God will make you brave!
Remember, you are loved.