Broken Things

By Jenny Harris

” …that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions” (Mosiah 24:14).

Every first Sunday of the month, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hold a sacrament meeting called “testimony meeting.” It’s a culturally nuanced open-mic experience—sometimes authentic and Christ-centered, often socially awkward.

As an introvert, I don’t cherish ad-lib preaching to a crowd. But as a Christian, I want to live 1 Peter 3:15: “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.”

HE is the reason for the hope in my heart, and I’d like to be ready to say so.

So I’m starting my own tradition. A written testimony, every first Sunday of the month. No mic, no audience (you excepted, dear reader), no obligations for length or poise or rhetoric. Just a good ponder and free-write. 

***

I’ve been musing on an experience. It happened to a friend, but lately it feels personal and metaphorical:

A few years ago, Chelsie* unearthed marital indiscretion. Without disclosing the details, know that she was devastated, and rightly so. Her world crumbled, starting at the bedrock foundation of her ten-year old marriage. Her immediate, agonized response was to punch the wall. And I mean PUNCH the wall. She punched right through the dry wall and the bones in her right hand. As painful symbols of grief, she now had a broken home, a broken hand, and a broken heart.

Everywhere, brokenness.

I visited her months after the event. I saw the cast on her hand, but I never saw the hole in the wall. She had covered it, ironically, with a picture like this:

Framed painting of Jesus Christ
The Good Shepherd by Simon Dewey

That picture. The hole.

Jesus. The broken thing. The proximity of the two.

These things keep running through my mind.

The image evokes several metaphors, but the one that I need is this: Christ hangs out with broken things. I mean, right next to them, maybe even covering them from view. He’ll FIX things, yeah, but some things remain broken for a long time. He’s STILL THERE. He’s just as near for the broken as for the whole—nearer, arguably (Mark 2:17).

Consider the stories of Jesus in the New Testament. He was kickin it with people that were ritually and spiritually broken: Adulterers. Samaritans. Lepers. The woman with an issue of blood. Even the dead. Name anyone that society frowned on, anyone who may have internalized shame or hurt or brokenness, He was there. He seemed to enjoy their company best, and I think it was not merely for the sake of healing and granting forgiveness. It seems, from the proliferation of accounts, that Jesus enjoyed hanging out with broken people.**

So what?

So I’m broken. And I’ve been surprised (and delighted) to find that Jesus hasn’t retreated from me. In fact, I think He rather enjoys me.

I feel comfort when I pray about dastardly recurring temptations. That makes me think that maybe he likes hearing from me, even when I’m spewing pessimism and unrighteousness. Broken, but there He is.

I sense purpose to my being—not all of the time, but often enough to carry me through the dark days and into a generally light existence. This happy-sad duality speaks to fallen worlds and redeeming Christs. I’m broken, but He’s still there.  

I see help when I look for it: kind conversations, mentors, positive music, opportunities to serve. You could chalk it up to coincidence or consequence, but I believe these blessings come from Him. I am broken, but He is ever present, assuring me of my alrightness despite my wounds and faults. 

That’s it. My testimony is that Jesus hangs out with broken things—with me. I make that claim because I feel equal parts broken and divinely sustained.

That picture. The hole.

Jesus. The broken thing. The proximity of the two.

Eventually I trust that His healing presence will FIX the broken bits, but there’s a special sort of poetry in being broken and hanging out with divinity for the meanwhile.

-August 4, 2019

*Name changed

**This idea, though probably obvious, came to me most recently from Father Gregory Boyle’s book, Tattoos on the Heart. Do yourself a favor and read it—it’s heart-changing, funny, and fresh.

Jenny Harris

Jenny Harris

Jenny is a star-gazing, book-clubbing mother of two. She has a Master’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies, which is mildly comical (but also a boon in parenting and relationships). Her kids will attest that she's crazy about reading aloud, time out of doors, and creative play. Her family's goal is the “abundant life,” as prescribed by Jesus. You can read more posts by Jenny here.
Jenny Harris

Jenny Harris

Jenny is a star-gazing, book-clubbing mother of two. She has a Master’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies, which is mildly comical (but also a boon in parenting and relationships). Her kids will attest that she's crazy about reading aloud, time out of doors, and creative play. Her family's goal is the “abundant life,” as prescribed by Jesus. You can read more posts by Jenny here.

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