“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day…
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you…”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
-The Velveteen Rabbit
My greatest fear in regards to brokenness is paralysis. What if… in that place of being utterly shattered, our strength and will-power is also utterly broken. What if… I stay in that place of hurting and seeing and feeling my woundedness… forever. What if… I’m unable to come out of this stronger, healthier, more beautiful and whole. These risks are what we are afraid of. But in this journey towards wholeness, I see that it is only through taking the risk and surrendering complete control to God, that we progress towards our destination. We cannot take these risks and throw ourselves fully into Him if we do not know His character and our Belovedness. To be broken implies we will come face to face with our mess, our junk, our ugliness that we’ve perhaps stifled and pressed far into the depths of our hearts. And honestly, it’s easier to do that. If I’m completely honest, that has been my journey the past few months. My fear of seeing the depth of my hurts and pains, my fear of never finding joy and my fear of paralysis lead me to shutting my heart down, thus shunning my emotions and all sign of tenderness. You see, it is only when we choose to let ourselves be vulnerable, to embrace the reality of our heart’s condition that we are able to feel, to be tender and ultimately to love.
I fought for so long to not feel out of fear, but this lead to my heart becoming cold, apathetic, and ultimately incapable of loving and feeling love. To love at all is to be vulnerable. To be tender and receive the hearts of those hurting and wounded, it means that we cannot be hardened towards our own emotions, hurts and wounds. To love means that we risk the safety of keeping pain, hurt and wounds out through our invulnerability. To love means we instead come, bearing our hearts, vulnerably, feeling our pains, emotions and brokenness, so that we can receive the pains, wounds and brokenness of others.
To be real, to be vulnerable, to truly live, means that we embrace brokenness as part of us. Wholeness does not exclude brokenness. Wholeness means we embrace, receive and accept those places we deem unlovable, unacceptable and unworthy of love. Wholeness only comes as we embrace our broken and messy selves and we see that God is actually drawn to messy and broken people moreso than those who are all put together. God doesn’t want a neatly packaged heart, He longs for the broken and shattered heart. God doesn’t want a rigid, cold and impenetrable heart, He longs for one that may be vulnerable and susceptible to the slightest sting of pain. But this is a heart that is completely ready to receive the fullness of His love. It is a heart that is open to His working in our lives and it is a heart that is quick to receive the pains, wounds and brokenness of other broken hearts.
Brokenness enables us to step into realness. Although brokenness is often times seen as weakness, I believe that brokenness is only for the strong and courageous of heart. You see, brokenness entails vulnerability, but to let ourselves be unguarded and absolutely defenseless speaks volumes of the person’s character and strength. One cannot truly let themselves be exposed and susceptible to brokenness without the knowledge of one’s belovedness. When we see we are safe in the arms of our Father, we let ourselves crumble. When we realize we are held in safety, we give ourselves permission to be weak. When we realize there is Someone who is guarding our hearts, we let ourselves be broken. Because at the end of the day, we realize, I am not alone and I am loved by One who not only sees my brokenness, but creates a safe space where I can BE broken.
Brokenness is the gateway to a heart of compassion. Brokenness is the gateway for one to be real, authentic and genuine. Without brokenness, we are unable to let God reshape our identities, it breaks off all pride. Brokenness humbles us, but also strengthens us. Brokenness enables us to reach out to another and hold them, wipe their tears and whisper love, without letting fear creep in. When we are broken to realness, we are broken to be given to others. When we are broken to realness, our hearts are reshaped so as to be a sanction for other broken hearts. When we are broken to realness, apathy and hard-heartedness are broken off of us. When we are broken to realness, we become the broken but true representations of Christ’s broken body, given to draw us into relationship with Him. And when we are broken, we are truly living, loving and feeling.
To be real, means we must be broken. But when you are real, you don’t mind being hurt. For being real implies we are truly living, loving and feeling. To be truly alive means we are capable of seeing the beauty all around us, even in the midst of brokenness. To be truly alive far outweighs the risk of hurt, pain and grief that are thrown at our hearts, which choose to feel over numbness.
To be real means we are vulnerable. To be real implies we will be broken, but to be real means that we are stepping towards true wholeness and experiencing things a cold and hardened heart will never be able to feel.
words by Grace Chun and photo by Jessica DiMento