Tag Archives: brokenness

Play Hurt

What are we trying to heal, anyway? The athlete knows the day will never come when he wakes up pain-free. He has to play hurt. (Steven Pressfield, The War of Art, pg. 48)

Play hurt. As long as you are living, you will be broken. Some part of you will be weak. You can’t eliminate the pain, but you can participate in the process of it being redeemed. 

That’s a daily choice for me – choosing to play hurt. But I think the opposite of it inevitably leads me to bitterness or apathy. So playing hurt may not be the easy choice. Or the comfortable choice. But, I’d rather limp along in pain than sit idle in bitterness.  

Honestly, I’m not so sure that YOU can heal you anyway. I think we’ve got to keep walking and, in doing so, participate in a process that will find us on the road to healing 6 months, 18 months, 2 years from now.

Don’t wait to be whole before walking alongside a friend who is also broken. Don’t wait to be perfect to write that book you’ve been waiting on, paint your next piece, take your next photo, write your next song. Believe that your creativity comes from a place in you deeper than your pain. And that your pain makes your creativity richer as it flows out through that place.

When You Don’t Even Know What Pieces You’re Holding

As I sat across from my friend yesterday I felt helpless. Stuck. Weak. I didn’t have answers I was seeking affirmation for. In fact I didn’t even have questions I was seeking answers for. All I had were the broken pieces & no idea how to begin putting them back together or what it was I was even trying to put together.

Honestly I’m not even sure I know what pieces I’m holding. 

I got an email from another friend a few hours later “How are you doing? Be honest. Don’t bull crap me.” My response was a paragraph that ended with “So yeah, that’s honest. And messy. You’re welcome. :)”

I don’t remember the last time I felt this strategy-less, plan-less, solution-less. When the problem wasn’t going away because I refused to do what I knew I needed to do but rather because I hadn’t yet even figured out what the problem was. How are you supposed to pray for answers when you don’t have any questions? How do you start putting the puzzle together when you’re not sure if you’re holding puzzle pieces or a random collection of game board pieces from Monopoly & Candy Land?

But you can only dwell on it for so long, right? Because there’s work to be done, meetings to be had, friends to be seen, life to be lived. The world isn’t going to be stopping anytime soon while I figure out what questions to ask.

Why do I tell you this? I tell you this because sometimes I think we need to hear that life is messy for other people to. That there are days, even for those of us who believe in an ever-present Father who never fails us, we feel quite lonely…like we’d much prefer curling up in a ball in a cave & not having to face the world until we choose to. Sometimes our heart needs to know that hope feels as distant for someone else as it does for us. That even those who seem to have it all together have seasons where emotions are thread bare.

And maybe, on some level, I need to remind myself of all of those things too and writing them down roots them a little deeper into my stubborn doubtful heart. 

So, if you’re in a place like I am today, take heart, you’re not alone. And tomorrow, if it comes, is a new day. Because while there may be a lot that I don’t know right now, that much I do – that each day is a new one, a small chance to start from scratch.  

When January 16th Causes You To Reflect

It was January 16, 2006. It was a Monday – like today…January 16, 2012. It was the first day of classes for the 2nd semester of my Junior year of college. But I wasn’t in class. I was on a Midwest flight from Milwaukee home to Minneapolis for my grandfather’s funeral. 

As I walked through the airport that day I wasn’t sure I was going to make it all the way. I can remember praying in my head, “Lord, just don’t let me fall. If I fall I won’t be able to get back up.” 

I landed in Minneapolis late that afternoon & can vividly remember my dad saying “I guess there really is something wrong” as he had to help me climb up into his large pick up truck.

The previous week I had gone back & forth on phone calls with my doctors explaining to them that I had suddenly grown very weak. I could barely walk on a flat surface. Hills were extremely difficult. Stairs were nearly impossible. Even standing up from a chair was quite the tricky process. I convinced them I wasn’t paralyzed & they talked of CT scans, mammograms, & muscle biopsies to be sure there was nothing cancerous going on & to take a look at my muscle tissue.

Six years later I’m on a flight from my home in Nashville to Minneapolis. This time for a visit to my doctor at the Mayo Clinic. A visit where I have no doubt I’ll get a good report. Because while I still have some symptoms & still live with pain on a daily basis, six years later I’ve been to China & back. I’ve climbed the Great Wall. I have been able to go camping again. I walk on a regular basis, up & down hills…I even throw in a little jogging here & there. I climb two flights of stairs without any hesitation to get to my room these days. I don’t think twice about going out with friends.  All that to say, God has worked some incredible healing. 

And perhaps the best part is the heart healing He worked through the physical brokenness before He worked physical healing. God has no doubt used the journey of the last 6 years to shape me & mold me into the person I am today.

I watched a TED talk the other day about the difference between our experiencing-selfs & our remembering-selfs. An experience may be incredibly painful for our experiencing-self but because of a happy ending or worthwhile lesson our remembering-selfs don’t see it that way. And while my experiencing self in no way wishes to go back & relive the journey of the last 6 years, my remembering self reflects on them almost fondly & with deep gratitude. Because 6 years later I see that not only is there physical healing but the journey to physical healing was directly related to the journey to heart healing. 

Father, thank you for loving me enough to break me so that You could make me whole.

What brokenness has God used in your life to make you whole? 

Scabs or Scars?

“Do you want relief or do you want to be healed?”

When I read that on a blog the other day it grabbed me. I stopped. Read it again. And realized it was a question I need to be asking myself…reminding myself of…more often. Because if I’m honest, most of the time I settle for relief. Because relief is a lot easier than healing.

It’s the difference between a scab & a scar. Scabs have found relief. They’re on their way to being healed, but they can still be ripped open & cause a lot of pain quite easily. Relief is fragile.

Scars on the other hand have healed. The effects are still visible & may always be, but they’re not causing any pain nor do they threaten to cause pain. Healing is solid.

But healing is also beyond our control. We can control we relief. Most of the time we know where to go to find it, and it’s quick. Scars take time to heal, and we can’t control them. But I would still rather have healing than relief. And I believe that’s what Jesus desires for us as well – healing…wholeness.



Honesty. It seems the older I get the more I learn the value of that word. And I’m not talking honesty simply in the sense of not telling a lie but honesty to the point of being vulnerable. It’s one thing to not tell a lie, it’s another to tell the truth…the whole truth…more than just a few kernels of truth…even when we don’t have to. And telling the whole truth oftentimes makes us vulnerable and is usually risky. It’s risky to put yourself out there and speak openly & truthfully about life, about experiences, about lessons learned along the way.

But it’s a risk that I’m finding is worth it. Because the beauty, healing, & friendship that comes from it far outweighs the hurt that may sometimes come. I think we must be broken individually, but most often we are healed in community. Think about it, you can injure yourself, but more often than not you can’t heal yourself. You need a doctor or team of doctors to help you do that. Just the same, when we’re broken we need friends to help us pick up the pieces. Or more accurately God blesses us by using friends to work His healing in our lives…His putting us back together.

I still find myself fighting honesty. Often. And honesty doesn’t always win the fight. But when it does I’m always grateful for the beauty of deepened relationships that comes from it. I’ve had several conversations in the last month where I spoke honestly from my heart & I haven’t regretted it. In fact, quite the opposite.

Do you find it hard to be truly honest?


Permission to Speak Freely and the Gift of Going Second

I got Anne Jackson’s “Permission to Speak Freely” when it came out back in August and it’s been sitting neglected on my shelf for the last several months. But, I finally had the chance to finish it and wanted to share a few thoughts.

For me it was one of those books that I read and I reminded I’m not alone…one where the author seems to put words to my heart. Here are just a few of the passages in Permission to Speak Freely that did just that.

“Most of us choose to live in one of these extremes: conforming or escaping. Few can find peace living in the tension of both. Those of us who do wonder if we’re too idealistic to believe a faith community can be a hospital where our wounds are welcomed and can be healed. That true sanctuary can be found both within the walls of the church and outside the church as well.

A Scottish minister once told me, “If you can’t be an idealist in the church, then something is extremely wrong.”

At the risk of sounding overly idealistic, I’d like to say that for those of use who believe the church should be one of the safest and most grace-giving places a person can experience here on earth, it’s time to reclaim what our faith stands for.” (page 85)

I’m definitely one of those idealists. And it just’s good to know I’m not the only one. :)

You can’t will yourself to transform. There’s nothing you can do to make your heart “get” it. Nothing. You can prepare for it, and be receptive when it comes, but that’s all you can do. You have to step back and let it soak in.  (page 95)

Even though the one thing I desired was to be by myself, deep down, none of us wants to be alone. The reason we crave isolation so badly is because more than our fear of being alone is our fear of rejection. (page 110)

Ouch! That one is truth. And the truth does indeed sometimes hurt.

“It’s funny: I feel I end up being a bit of a broken record because I keep saying it’s about community, or whatever you want to call it. We just need honest relationships. But for a lot of people, that’s scary place to start. But the burden of fearing those relationships is so much heavier than actually having them. Once we have them, we realize how necessary they are.” (page 176)

Yep, that’s my life!

Anne talks a lot about the “gift of going second.” The idea that when we risk…risk our hearts, our “image,” tackle fear head on and shed our masks sharing openly and transparently about our struggles and doubts we give others the freedom to do the same. Only it’s not quite as risky for them and the fear isn’t quite as great because they have been given the gift of going second and when it comes to being transparent going second is always easier. I think Permission to Speak Freely is that gift for many people. Thank you, Anne, for giving us all the gift of going second. I’m feeling challenged to pass that gift along to others.

Have you read the book? If so, what were your thoughts?