Posted January 11, 2014 by Marg Herder
This post is part of my series on the 2014 Gay Christian Network conference. EEWC-Christian Feminism Today is partnering with GCN to present GCN’s 2014 weconnect Women’s Retreat. Complete information on the conference can be found here. My introduction to the conference and the weconnect Women’s Retreat can be found here.
“We are broken.”
I’ve heard this phrase spoken often by Christian people.
For some reason the words always raised my hackles. Hearing them made me feel like someone had walked up behind me and grabbed me a little too roughly— not necessarily with malicious intent, but perhaps with an unwelcome sense of familiarity.
I’ve been thinking about why I’m bothered when I hear these words spoken.
It’s not that I have a problem with the concept. I am broken— and trust me, I’m very well aware of it. I’m not in denial, and I’ve even come to greatly appreciate what it allows me. Knowing my own brokenness teaches me how to move through the world compassionately. Only in coming to terms with it can I ever hope to embrace and bestow forgiveness. Brokenness is integral to my experience of grace.
So I think the problem is that I almost always hear the words said lightly, glibly, confidently, like some kind of Christian humble brag. I think maybe this has something to do with the fact that admitting and believing in our brokenness is just the lead-up to the “important part,” namely Christ’s sacrifice and our subsequent salvation. Our human brokenness is treated as an abstract concept, the thing that makes the rest of the narrative work.
When we talk about brokenness I want to feel the pain of naked truth. I want the words to be untamed and un-groomed. I want to hear the crimson bloom of shame in our voices. I want to feel the emotional morass of untenable situations caused when we responded without grace, without patience, without compassion. I want our shoulders to sag. I want our eyes to wander because we are unable to meet each other’s gaze. I don’t want to hear even a flicker of pride.
Because that’s the brokenness that I know.
That’s the brokenness that I feel.
That’s the brokenness that haunts me.
And then, only then, do I want you to slowly look up at me, shyly, hesitantly, and with true humility say the first, next, word.
Then you can tell me how our brokenness prepares our beings for redemption by tearing us wide open so Ruach Elohim can flow more freely through us. Then I will be able to trust your words and believe it is only through grace we can love, and be loved, with abandon.
Then, and only then, can we talk about salvation.
This afternoon at the Gay Christian Network conference I attended a question and answer session with Linda and Rob Robertson (they spoke in a plenary session earlier in the day). Read about them. Really. They lost their gay son, Ryan, in what basically amounts to a long and drawn out suicide. For many years while Ryan was alive the Robertsons’ understanding of their Christian faith kept them from loving him (and kept Ryan from loving himself) as someone beautifully and uniquely created in the image of God, someone loved by God just because he breathed.
The Robertsons understand brokenness in a way that requires tears and massive regret, that demands faith in impossible healing, and that emerges from waters so thick with pain it’s almost unimaginable.
And when they said today, several times, “we are broken,” my hackles didn’t go up. Instead I dropped my eyes and through my own tears thought quietly to myself, “Yes, yes we are.”
Related Content on Where She Is:
And There Was Singing (Sunday)
Rachel Held Evans’ Presentation Summary (Saturday)
There Will be Some Tears (Thursday)
weconnect – Introduction to GCN Board Chairperson Susan Shopland
weconnect – Interview with Susan Shopland, Part 1
weconnect – Interview with Susan Shopland, Part 2
weconnect – Introduction to Featured Speaker Reverend Audrey Connor
weconnect – Interview with Audrey Connor, Part 1
weconnect – Interview with Audrey Connor, Part 2
weconnect – Interview with Audrey Connor, Part 3
Introduction to the Gay Christian Network’s weconnect Women’s Retreat
GCN’s “Live It Out” Conference Website
Conference Twitter Feed Follow @gcnconf
The hashtags to use are #GCNConf and #weconnect
Gay Christian Network Facebook Page
Gay Christian Network Website
Marg, when I first read this, I couldn’t ‘take it in’. I read it like the news about a 3rd world country. I thought — wow great writing. Miraculous in fact. That you can assemble such beautiful reflection around such a painful topic. Then I turned off my phone and put a snack together. I was going to see if the Colts game was on. Or switch out laundry. Or take down Solstice & Christmas decorations. Or. But instead I dug out a notebook and pen and wrote. First the word BROKEN. I will get on my ‘big’ PC to write the rest.
Awesome, beautiful, moving article, Marg. Thank you.