To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.~Isaiah 61:3 (NIV)
I don’t know about you, but this trying period has reminded me of how imperfect I am, how broken I am. Take away the mask, and I am just a broken girl. Often we go around pretending all is well and that we have the answers. Even when we are struggling inside, weighed down by our sins, worries, and challenges we face daily.
Why do we hide behind the mask? It seems it is something we have been doing since that evening in the Garden of Eden when God came calling, and Adam and Eve hid after eating of the fruit. The truth is that sin distorts reality.
What is Beauty? What do you consider beautiful? The tall, dark, handsome man, with a 6-pack. A beautiful sunset at the Masai Mara, with the animals in the background. Seeing your baby for the first time. Yes, these are all beautiful moments. However, we make a grave mistake to think that these happy moments are the only definition of beauty.
Yet I have discovered in my life’s journey so far, that after I have come through a period of brokenness that I can fully appreciate the blessings. The blessings God graciously gives to me time and time again. True beauty can only be glimpsed through God’s eyes and fully expressed when operating under that mindset. In fact, it is after the storms that I had often discovered that even amid the challenges, God was there even when I did not feel his presence.
How then can we deal with brokenness in light of who we are in Christ? Because there is the temptation to become bitter.
- Be honest with yourself: healing will begin from this point of acceptance.
- Recognize that you can’t solve the problem on your own. As humans, we often get so much confidence in being self-reliant. But when troubles come, we quickly realize that the foundation we built on things, careers, and people may not be as stable as we thought.
- Recognize that your mindset was faulty. What I mean here is that often we have the mindset that sees success as based on what is tangible. In other words, success is defined as having a well-paid job, being physically healthy, having money in the bank, etc. While all these things are good, they are not the determinants of what success is when seen from God’s perspective.
- Spend time reflecting. Being Broken allows you to take a good look inwards. What happens when you suddenly lose all the things you consider as being successful? If you had the wrong mindset, you are likely to feel like your world has ended. This is what happened to me in 2016 when my world, as I knew it came tumbling down. I had somehow, along the way, cultivated a wrong mindset, that equated academic success with being the most essential key to success. I had become so proud and self-reliant on my intellect.
- Admit where you went wrong. In your broken state, realize where you went wrong. For me, it was admitting that I let pride and ego get in the way. That I procrastinated when I should have boldly taken action. It was acknowledging that I had not put God first. My education had become my idol, and without God, it was an unstable foundation. Please, this is not saying education is wrong, but that the mindset one has can be wrong.
- Learn to control your emotions by feeding on the word of God. This is always a turning point for me. When I begin to see the issues through the light of God’s word. I gain new confidence, even when things have not changed physically. Because God looks beyond the physical, He looks beyond what the eyes can see. I also then begin to look beyond the current situation. Failure to control your emotions only leaves you more broken and prone to making disastrous choices.
- Take control of what you can. This simply means that you begin to do what it’s in your power to do. In 2016 I did that by writing e-mails, working on my thesis so that it was ready for defense. Today it means that I wash my hands and wear masks and practice social distancing.
- Giving God control of what you can’t control: There are obviously things that are beyond our control. Yet there is one who is in control, so I am learning to commit to God those things. So back in 2016, I prayed that God would open the doors for me to defend my thesis in Kenya. The other request was that I would get the visa to travel to the United States to start business school. Today it means that I pray that God will stop the spread of COVID-19.
- Begin to Act in Faith. Being broken can be a door to new opportunities, but it requires that you have faith to walk into the new place.
Brokenness is a gift in disguise. As it allows you to be pruned and to be refined. So that you enter into a new phase without the dross and weeds that overtime becomes entangled in our lives. Instead, you have the strength and capabilities to succeed in the latest adventure that could have only come from being broken. In the end, God exchanges the brokenness for beauty, we come out better and more durable.
When I think of people that were broken who instead of becoming bitter, instead found ways of remaining steadfast in their faith. Job and Joseph come to mind. They did not curse God, yes they had questions but remained faithful where they were in the midst of their pain and suffering. But in the end, they found a beauty for ashes and so can you.