Let Your Pieces Be Gathered
The integrity God calls us to is nothing more or less than integration--to bring our inner and outer world into closer alignment; to get our heads, hearts and bodies into alignment. This is a tall enough order as it is, and certainly requires dependence on the Holy Spirit. I get out of alignment regularly. But this is my aim, now, much more simple and clear--not to get it "right" so much, as to let all my pieces be gathered. Jonathan Martin
I woke up this morning to a note on the bathroom door.
I think I might have broken a light bulb in here. Be careful!
I was grateful for the warning. I didn’t want to discover shards of glass with my bare feet.
It’s not just light bulbs that get broken. We are full of chips and cracks, insecurities and doubts, questions and fears. We all get fractured and fissured, misaligned and out of sorts. We all get damaged by repeated knocks and falls.
Our brokenness also brings with it shame. There are pieces of ourselves and our stories we would rather disown, so we banish them into exile in the hope of never seeing or hearing from them again.
The problem with broken pieces, though, is that they always find a way to get back underfoot. They turn up in unexpected places to hurt us and other people. I’ve seen it in my own self: the snap judgements and critical comments. The overreactions and harsh words that I didn’t even mean. The impulse to reject others before they reject me.
It’s true that “hurt people hurt people” so how do we find healing? How do we ensure that our wounds don’t become the sharp splinters that damage others?
I think there is a clue at the end of the story where Jesus feeds the five thousand. When everyone has finished the miracle meal, Jesus tells his disciples:
“Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing may be lost.” John 6:12-13
Jesus wasn’t just interested in the parts that looked desirable, the parts that did a good job of feeding people, the bits that everyone wanted. He was interested in the whole picture, even the leftover fragments. Time and time again in the Gospels, we see Jesus making room for people whose brokenness has left them on the margins of society. He consistently seeks out what is lost so that it can be found again: lost sheep, mislaid coins, missing sons, leftover fragments of bread, the broken pieces of us.
Jesus doesn’t want any part of us to be lost. Even the bits with the jagged edges, the episodes we’re not proud of, the stories that are too painful to tell.
When we disown these parts of ourselves, we are orphaning and abandoning them, but Jesus promised that he would not leave us as orphans. Instead, he gives us his Holy Spirit who works with us to uncover our broken pieces and restore us to wholeness with gentle care.
Our job is to co-operate with the process. We do this by being honest about our brokenness. It takes vulnerability and courage, but it is the path to wholeness. It moves us away from fear of being found out, towards knowing that we are loved and accepted as we are.
I had one of those conversations recently. I sat in the kitchen of a trusted friend as she told her stories and I told mine. It was a holy afternoon of feeling known and loved in a deeper way. And the Holy Spirit was there in the middle of it, as we let our cracked and broken pieces be gathered.
As Leonard Cohen famously wrote, “there’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”