Writing has seemed more like a chore lately.
The hustle and bustle of ending semesters, beginning semesters, term papers, textbook reading, socializing, and driving back to Texas for the summer has definitely not helped anything, but ultimately that’s not what has caused my annoyance with deep thinking.
The truth is, life has just been hard…and it has completely worn me out.
Marriage has seemed hard, friendships have seemed hard, school has seemed hard, and the transient lifestyle we have been living seems harder by the day. As if this isn’t enough, my own personal hang-ups and bad habits compact the problems making things…you guessed it…even harder.
Long story short, it’s been quite the ride, and I have been waiting for summer since the beginning of the year.
A few days ago, I was driving home from meeting a friend, when I heard a song by one of my favorite artists, Nichole Nordeman. The song is entitled The Unmaking, and it immediately drew me in:
“What happens now when all I’ve made is torn down? What happens next when all of You, is all that’s left?…
This is the unmaking, the beauty in the breaking. Had to lose myself to find out who You are. Before each beginning, there must be an ending. Sitting in the rubble, I can see the stars. This is the unmaking.”
The song spoke to me.
For the past few months, I have been trying to hold everything together. I have been wrestling with my past, while trying to make my present a dream. I’ve been relying upon my own strength, my own intellect, and my own power. I’ve been trying to be the best wife, a good friend, a diligent student, a secure person, and a faithful follower of Christ. I’ve been clinching my jaws and my fists and have been determined to make everything work out as planned.
The problem is, I have been failing miserably.
Although it sucks (let’s be real), I think this is why Nordeman’s words are so powerful.
Maybe life isn’t found in keeping everything together – maybe it’s found in acts of surrender and letting go. Maybe life is found in the unmaking – not in endless strivings to make life work.
This message is echoed through the old covenant and the new covenant, too. (That is, through the Old Testament law and Christ’s death in the New Testament).
Romans 7:7-13 and Galatians 3:19-29 explain that the law (the old covenant) produced helplessness in people. It showed people that their own self-effort was not enough to save themselves from sin. Their own darkness, insecurities and idolatrous habits still ruled in their hearts no matter how hard they tried. They just couldn’t be the people they needed to be in order to experience life.
The good news is, this brokenness – this desperate need in the hearts of God’s people – set the stage for the new covenant (Christ, His death, and resurrection).
The new covenant promised that God would forgive the sins of His people and that He would write His law on their hearts so that they would not forget them (Jeremiah 31:33 & 34). He also promised that He would give His people a “new Spirit” that would enable them to walk in His ways (Ezekiel 36:23-28).
I like how Cynthia Heald puts it:
“Had Christ come directly after the fall, the enormity and deadly fruits of sin would not have been realized fully by man, so as to feel his desperate state and need of a savior.”
It’s clear. Faith begins with brokenness.
It begins with unbelief in yourself and your own ability to be all the things you want to be. It’s about believing you can’t do it alone.
You see, I want to be a lot of things.
I long to be a really kind and encouraging wife. I dream of being an effective counselor. I want to be a good friend, sister, and daughter – and one day, I hope to be a compassionate, intentional, nurturing, and loving mom. I want to be full of joy, and I want to see the best in people. I want to be physically healthy (not in a way that is consuming and idolatrous) and mentally free (free from anxiety and past hardships). I want to be a peaceful person who is not easily stressed out and a person whom people can trust. I want to be passionate about pursuing God and His calling in my life, and I want to exhibit patience, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and love to all I encounter. I want to be free from idols, and I desperately want to be less concerned about myself.
I want to be an investor in the things that really matter in this life.
The problem is, I do not have the power to change my heart.
Nordeman’s song was so powerful to me because it reminded me that I am incapable of being the person I want to be. The harder I try to change my heart, the more and more I am reminded of my inability to do so.
Brokenness. It’s all about brokenness.
It’s all about sitting in the rubble of the things you are trying to build, and realizing that you are in desperate need of help. It’s realizing you can’t do it alone.
These past few months I have been praying for transformation. I have been praying that God would help me be a better wife, friend, daughter, student, and follower of Christ. All the while, I have been doing what I can to make everything work. I have been coping and trying harder. Ultimately, I have been doing things my own way.
I have been praying for help, but I am not sure I truly believed I needed it.
Nordeman’s song reminded me that brokenness is beautiful.
In order to be whole, we have to be unmade. We have to have our self-made foundations torn down so that a new foundation can be laid – a foundation that is secure, and truly life-changing.
We can’t beat sin. We can’t beat death. And we can’t change our own hearts.
But God can. And He has equipped us with the Holy Spirit to help us. We are not alone.
Brokenness leads to surrender, which leads to faith, which leads to life. To be honest, I’m not sure it can happen any other way.
* Special thanks to the AWESOME work of Cynthia Heald, which has helped me navigate through the concept of God’s grace in the old and new covenants. Her words and insights truly encourage me. And of course Nichole Nordeman who has drawn me closer to the Lord through her music for the past 9 years.