The word “broken” has an almost exclusively negative connotation in our culture. Broken in our popular delusion, is equated with “weak.” In a world of mis-applied social-Darwinism, where “only the strong survive,” this is the last adjective someone wants applied to their character!
Broken, however, also has a redemptive aspect. When our pride is broken we are more willing to take advice, admit our failings, and freely embrace the consequences of our actions. People with broken pride are not weak, far from it! In fact, they are strong. Strong enough to look deep within themselves and acknowledge where the darkness of a broken world works in and through them. From there, they embrace the hope of new possibilities.
To me, this is the point to which this first image speaks. A rotted and tired piece of wood flops onto the hard ground, giving up it’s struggle of pride and wondering what’s in store.
Christians, at our best, are lead by the Holy Spirit into this very form of brokenness – where our sense of self is shattered in order for us to be reformed into servants. Sadly, in our culture many who claim to be Christians have embraced our wider culture’s attitude toward brokenness. This has led to the growth of “compassionless Christianity,” which seeks power, control, and judgement for it’s own self-preservation.
This second image speaks to the more negative understanding of broken. In the background lies the shattered remains of a fallen tree. Reaching out from the mass is a lone scrap of bark, desperately striving back towards its former glory.
I often few our culture this way. We have developed a psychology so toxic, based on a frail sense of self and the fear of legal repercussions, that admitting a failure is something to be avoided at all costs. We long to reach out for the time before we knew our own shortcomings and fail to see the beauty of self-awareness. We think strength comes from an impeccable or mighty facade, but it does not. Real strength emerges from weakness.