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Brokenness – more normal than foreign

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By Dave Henning / January 5, 2018

“All of us live with brokenness in our lives.  To varying degrees and in various ways, brokenness is more normal than foreign in the human experience.”- Ann Swindell

in Chapter 1 (“When Waiting Makes You Broken”) of Still Waiting, Ann Swindell states she began to clearly understand brokenness at the age of eleven.  Up until that point, Ann considered herself a “good girl.”  A rule-follower by nature, the author notes she came from a long line of rule followers.   Thus, Ann felt a sense of internal control.

However, at age eleven, Ms. Swindell received a challenging diagnosis: trichotillomania.  The American Journal of Psychiatry defines the condition as “a poorly understood disorder characterized by repetitive hair pulling that leads to noticeable hair loss, distress, and social or functional impairment.”  For Ann, “trich” manifested itself through pulling out her eyebrows and eye lashes.

As a result, Ann first experienced the emotion of knowing her own brokenness.  In addition, for the first time she felt helpless to change her brokenness.

Whether small or overwhelming, we all know that feeling.  And sometimes it seems too much to bear.  As the author astutely observes, “we wait because we are broken and we are broken because we are waiting.”

Also, waiting hardly presents as a calm and even business.  Ann explains:

  1. We wait because we are broken.  The Bible declares what we know in our bones.  It describes all creation as tattered, destroyed, and torn.  Yet, until God comes and makes all things new, we wait in the brokenness.  We wait to receive from God what we can’t secure on our own.
  2. We are broken because we’re waiting.  God could end our waiting at any point.  Until then, we wait.  We put our trust in a God who saves, who promises to come through.  And yet, Ann stresses, God’s prolonging = a kindness.  It reveals His patience.
  3. We know the defeat of broken waiting.  As Ann poignantly writes, “we all know the hollow truth of brokenness, of feeling defeated, of seeing ourselves as failures.”

Today’s question: How do you reconcile that brokenness is more normal than foreign?  Please share.

Coming Monday: the annotated bibliography of I’d Like You More If You Were More Like Me

Tomorrow’s blog: “Coming to know weakness in a broken world”

About the author

    Dave Henning


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