Archives For Brokenness

I love Tom & Jerry. That playful cat and mouse bring back such beautiful memories of after school peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.

(Oh, and of course, gratuitous violence).

Remember those classic reels where Jerry would smash Tom with a hammer and a giant lump would grow out of his head? And then in a beautiful moment of animated realism, Tom would push the bulging lump back down into his skull only to watch it pop up again on the other side.

Watching these cartoons didn’t turn me into a violent criminal, but I wonder if I subliminally learned more from them than I realize.

As I wrote in yesterday’s post, we’re wired to build over the top of our broken places rather than dig them up from the roots. And just like Tom, we end up trying to push these giant, gaping wounds back down into place only to watch them re-emerge just as blatantly somewhere else.

We can put filters in place to help manage an internet porn addiction. But if we don’t dig up the root of lust, the issue will just find a new place to grow.

We can work through feelings of jealousy towards a friend. But if we refuse to address the core of our insecurity, envy will just find new victims to target.

Arrogance doesn’t always manifest as obnoxious overconfidence. Squelch it there, and it could find new expression in your piety. Spiritual pride is perhaps the ugliest mutation. Deal with it at the root.

What brokenness are you simply trying to manage? Find the courage to go back to the source. Dig it up. Or you may find yourself maneuvering around different expressions of the same root cause. Pushing down one cranial contusion only to find it popping up again somewhere else. Maybe somewhere you weren’t expecting.

Repentance is a beautiful thing. Jesus is ready to meet you there.

It’s Valentine’s Day. The Taylor Swift lyric of holidays. Sweet. Sappy. Romantic. I think I got a cavity just writing that sentence.

Watching all the Twitter @ mention and Facebook wall post love flying around this morning (you know, those online digital expressions that have officially replaced the paper Hallmark cards and handwritten notes that are so 2003) got me thinking.

I’m a ridiculously lucky man.

Today, I woke up next to my beautiful Valentine of 15 years. We’re light years from perfect (and we know it), but our undying commitment to one another has led us on quite a journey. An adventure that now includes three little valentines and more undeserved love than we know what to do with most days. Valentine’s Day reminds me to celebrate this.

But I’m not ignorant. I also know this day threatens to swallow some of you. To remind you of what you don’t have. What you fear you may never have. Or maybe something you’ve lost.

An unexpected divorce.

Your annual tax filing status (once again) checked single.

A bouquet of flowers laid on a gravestone instead displayed in a vase on the kitchen counter.

Brokenness. Pain. Whether by poor choice or no choice of your own. Either way, it doesn’t matter. Today, as everyone else celebrates with balloons, candygrams, and romantic dinners for two, you quietly mourn.

I wish I had neat, easy answers. That Rosetta Stone Scripture that could clean it all up, snap it into focus, force it to all make sense.

But I can offer hope. Our God understands our sorrow.

“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.”
-Isaiah 53:3

So if you find Valentine’s Day more bitter than sweet, just know you’re not alone in feeling alone. Pain is far too often a real place. God didn’t design you to live there. He doesn’t want you to stay there. But if you are there today, just know that He will be right there with you.

My God is close to the brokenhearted.

Monuments to Me

Erik Cooper —  January 31, 2011 — 5 Comments

We humans are a screwed up bunch.

Scripture clearly states we’re created with God’s nature (Genesis 1:27). Yet we’re also cursed with our own inner Charlie Sheen (Genesis 6:5). Don’t think that tension goes unnoticed as BeyondTheRisk 2.0 goes live today.

Confession…

I write to express what God’s doing in me. To create something beautiful. To inspire action. To challenge perspective. To share something I value with you.

But I also write to please my inner narcissist. Because I want you to like me. For your approval. So you’ll make me feel valuable. So you’ll know who I am.

Just keeping it real.

Everything we create has the ability to elevate God and serve humanity, or become another monument to me.

We have to engage that tension with a lot of honest confession and repentance (and a good dose of loving community). It seems the only other option is to never create anything at all.

Where do you feel that tension?

A few weeks ago I spent the night in a hospital. It wasn’t an unexpected trip. I was scheduled to have an extended EEG on my brain, a test my neurologist felt was necessary to finally rule out all the serious possibilities for some strange symptoms I’ve been having the last couple of years.

I thought it was just a day trip. Turned out, they wanted me to sleep over.

For 23 hours my head looked like this (you have to admit, the colored wires are festive and do give the illusion of a stronger hairline).

I had to sit painfully still on the bed.  I had to wear ridiculous yellow hospital slippers.  And worst of all, I had to ring Nurse Ratched for a personal potty escort every time my coffee intake reached capacity (hey, it was that or the bedpan).

Good news.

Turns out I officially suffer from ocular migraines, an easily treatable condition typically found in post-menopausal women. So other than my bruised male ego, there was really nothing to fix. They sent me home with a mild prescription (for the impending hotflashes?).

Over those few short hours of inconvenience and humiliation, I gained something I could never have acquired any other way.

Empathy.

The ability to intellectually and emotionally identify with someone else. To know what it’s like to lay in a hospital bed.  To be hooked up to countless machines and beeping monitors.  To wonder if dinner will be edible.  To question if anyone is coming to visit. To worry if everything is going to be OK.

It was a valuable emotional tool to add to my repertoire. But it was only temporary.

At six the next morning I walked myself out.  No seizures.  No tumors.  No surgery required. Just a short, vicarious experience of what it could feel like to own a pair of those shoes.

And that’s what makes Christmas so unbelievably amazing (betcha didn’t see that turn coming, did you?).

Empathy is beautiful, but the God of the universe didn’t stop there. He didn’t just sit in heaven and feel sorry for us.  Our pain. Our brokenness.  He didn’t just momentarily capture our experience like a snapshot to hang on the refrigerator with the other Christmas cards.  He didn’t just empathize.

He incarnated

…a fancy, theological word that simply means “to become in flesh.” Our Creator didn’t just intellectually or emotionally identify with us.  He became one of us.

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”  – John 1:14 MSG

He didn’t Skype Himself in.

He didn’t post on our Facebook wall.

He didn’t drop by for a quick photo shoot on His way to deal with more important cosmic business.

He became.

Immanuel.

God with us.

He moved into the neighborhood.

That, my friends, is the truth I’m hanging tightly to this Christmas.