I know a teacher probably shouldn’t have favorites.
But the eager light in his eyes. That disarming smile. His quick mind and the way he asked the best questions. His presence in the classroom set a tone that infected everyone in the best way. Including me.
And he was only nine years old.
When he was no longer my student, our paths occasionally crossed, and he always acted as though nothing mattered more in that moment than talking to me and catching up on life.
Brilliant, kind, thoughtful, and extravagantly gifted, he grew up to become an accomplished musician and film editor. An artist with a tender and sensitive soul.
This week I found out that he took his own life.
He was twenty-seven.
I’m sitting in this ache. Thinking of him. Thinking of his parents. Of their loss. He was their only child.
Who can carry grief this heavy?
We are broken. All of us. And we spend much of our time, energy, money, and prayer on trying to get ourselves fixed. We look to doctors, preachers, politicians, plastic surgeons — and yes, even God — begging to be made well, worthy, safe, beautiful.
We spend our lives grasping for wholeness and come away empty handed. But maybe we’re so busy trying to mend away or pretend away our own brokenness, we’re missing the point?
I’m currently reading Ann Voskamp’s new book, The Broken Way, which releases October 25. I signed up to be on her launch team — partly because I love Ann and want to help spread the word about this amazing book, but mostly because I didn’t want to wait until the end of October to get my hands on it. And can we just be real? Helping launch a book by Ann is like helping launch the sun into the morning sky. The book is going to soar, not because a team of advance readers successfully launched it. It’s going to soar, because it is desperately needed truth for right this minute.
Brokenness is crushing people. Broken hearts. Broken minds. Broken bodies. People like my former student — who may look great on the outside, but inside they’re dying. And I’m afraid, in too many cases, the church is distracted by lesser things.
“By this we know love, that He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” That’s 1 John 3:16.
And in John 13, after Jesus washes His disciples’ feet, He says, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
We see this pattern repeated again and again. What Jesus did, we are also called to do. But somewhere along the way, a whole lot of our western-culture theology became about “me.” My comfort. My peace. My purpose. My best life, and I want it now.
Jesus was always only about His Father’s will. He came for one reason. To be broken for us.
“How do you live with your one broken heart?” Ann asks.
And God answers. “You give it away.”
So maybe it’s time to stop grasping for personal wholeness and embrace the truth that the only way others can see His light in me is through the cracks?
Maybe it is only in my brokenness that I am qualified to enter yours?
The Broken Way is the account of what happened when Ann said yes to God’s second dare.
The first dare? To count His One Thousand Gifts — to find Him in everything, and to let her perspective and her whole life be transformed by living fully aware and fully grateful. But gratitude is a beginning, not an end. At the Last Supper, Jesus didn’t stop with giving thanks for the bread. He broke it. And He gave. Then He told his disciples, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”
Do this. Break as I am broken. And your brokenness will be made into abundance.
The second dare? Lay down your one life — the handful of moments granted you — and pour them out as an offering to Him.
This book is a masterpiece painted with words — a stunning depiction of the upside-down, sacramental life my soul craves when I let the Spirit speak louder than the magazine headlines. I’m only four chapters in, and it has already spoken to the deeps in seismic fashion. Don’t be surprised if I have a lot more to say about it in the days ahead, but meanwhile, you can learn more and pre-order at TheBrokenWay.com.
How will you live with your one broken heart?
There’s a way to fullness of meaning, fullness of purpose, and fullness of joy. It’s the way Christ chose for Himself and the one He beckons us to follow.
Here’s my hand. Let’s go together.