How am I broken?

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How am I broken?

by Alyssa Robinson

In Rev. Doug Meyer’s message on Sunday, he said that the first step to healing the brokenness in others is to recognize how we are broken. I’ve been meditating on this idea.

You can watch the full worship service here or listen to the message here.

So I asked myself the question: how am I broken? What is it that I need to recognize within myself? I started making a list.

Ways I’m Broken:

  1. I don’t trust others easily.
  2. I’m selfish with my time.
  3. I’m scared.
 

I stopped writing. I’m scared.

When I saw those words I wrote, it struck my heart. When did I become a fearful person? I sat with this feeling for a moment. In recent years I’ve regressed from a generous spirit to a mindset of scarcity. I am broken.

Psalm 6:1-3
O Lord, don’t rebuke me in your anger

   or discipline me in your rage.

Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak.
   Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. 

I am sick at heart.

   How long, O Lord, until you restore me?

I wish I could pinpoint exactly when it started. The easy culprit is my divorce in 2019, but I know it’s more than that. Here a few of the things that have caused me anxiety and stress in the past 5(ish) years:
  • Following politics and news events has really taken a toll on my mental health since 2016
  • Marriage going badly 2017 - 2019
  • Divorce in 2019
  • Hit by tornado in October 2019
  • World shut down in March 2020
  • Forced from my home in August 2020
  • Bought my first house in October 2020
  • Grandmother died in November 2020
  • Pipes burst in freeze of February 2021
  • Renovating house from pipe burst in October 2021 - February 2022
  • Depression from May 2021 - June 2022
  • Car hit by Amazon driver in August 2022 (fun cherry on top)
 

You might have a similar list. We’ve all been through so much in the past 5 years. When I look at each of those moments in time, I can see the fear start to creep into my life.

Psalm 102:1-2
Lord, hear my prayer!

   Listen to my plea!

Don’t turn away from me

   in my time of distress.

Bend down to listen.
   
and answer me quickly when I call to you.

My divorce made me fearful about money because my security was gone. I was deceived about investments and savings, and it left me brokenhearted and scared for the future. Losing my grandmother was my first major death, and it made me fear loss. For a while I closed myself off to people and had the bleakest of thoughts, “Why does it matter? Everyone dies.” Divorce and death consumed me with grief. 

Psalm 6:6-7
I am worn out from sobbing.

   All night I flood my bed with weeping,

   drenching it with my tears.

My vision is blurred by grief;

   my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies.
 

My depression swallowed me whole. In June I saw the poet Rupi Kaur perform, and she introduced a poem about her depression experience by saying, “Depression doesn’t knock when it arrives. It slips through an open window undetected.” That was my experience, too. I was months into my depression before I realized it. My dad is a therapist, and I’ve been in therapy myself. It scared me. How could depression sneak up on me like this? What if it happens again? I’m constantly looking over my shoulder to discern if depression has caught up to me.

Psalm 143: 7-8
Come quickly, Lord, and answer me,

   for my depression deepens.

Don’t turn away from me,

   or I will die.

Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning,

   for I am trusting you.

Show me where to walk,

   for I give myself to you.
 

I’m broken. I’m afraid.

Psalm 34:17-18
The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.

   He rescues them from all their troubles. 

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;

   he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
 

It’s hard to admit. I want to be strong and courageous. I want to be fearless. I want to be the person giving motivational speeches about how I’ve overcome, but I’ve become someone held back by fear. How do I change this? I want to feel peace, gratitude, and contentment. I want to change my perspective. I have a tendency to tell myself, “Stop complaining. There are millions of people who have it worse than you.” I thought this self-talk grounded me. What it really did was shut down my emotions. I didn’t give myself permission to feel pain or sorrow. I stuffed my fears down deeper and deeper, and it resulted in depression and anxiety.

Psalm 51:15-17
Unseal my lips, O Lord,

  that my mouth may praise you.
You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
  You do not want a burnt offering.
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
  You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

The Bible is full of stories of broken people who took the time to admit their brokenness and cry out to God: King David, Jonah, Hagar, Mary Magdalene. The Psalms of Lament remind me that I’m not alone, and God wants to hear all of it. God wants us to cry out when we are broken, which is always. But the beauty of the Psalms of Lament is that they end with trust, acceptance, and thanksgiving to God.

Psalm 6:8-9
Go away, all you who do evil,
  for the Lord has heard my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
  the Lord will answer my prayer.

Psalm 102:27-28
But you are always the same;
  you will live forever.
The children of your people
  will live in security.
Their children’s children
  will thrive in your presence.

Psalm 143:11-12
For the glory of your name, O Lord, preserve my life.
   
Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress.
In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies

  and destroy all my foes,
  for I am your servant.

Psalm 34:22
But the Lord will redeem those who serve him.

   No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

I believe it's possible for our brokenness to be healed if we open our souls to God's Spirit. When I wrote my list of anxieties over the past 5 years, I forgot to look for God. In every tragedy and upheaval, God surrounded me with people to love me and support me. My parents took me in when I had nowhere to live. My friends and my church rallied around me when I was going through my divorce. My partner helped me with daily needs while I was in the throes of depression, like groceries, car maintenance, and yard work. My parents and grandparents helped me with finances when money was tight. Every challenge I’ve faced in my life has been met with God’s grace in abundance. Why am I afraid?

Isaiah 41:10
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

I’d love to tell you that this realization has led me to unending peace, but my stress and anxiety didn’t magically disappear when I remembered God is with me. Like Pastor Doug said, admitting our brokenness is often the first step on a long journey. I admit my brokenness to you in the hopes that it’s my first step to God’s peace, grace, and gratitude. I want my brokenness to be healed, and I believe God can do it.

Posted by Alyssa Robinson at 4:00 AM
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