But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.” – Genesis 3:9-13 (NRSV)
I hate what Adam did to Eve in the passage above. Not only was it a weak and unkind response to God’s question, but he also reminds me of me. Here is the woman God made just for Adam talking to a serpent and Adam never says a word. Here is the flesh of his flesh and Adam stands by and does nothing when she picks the fruit and eats it. He stands by like the kid who dared his friend to knock on old Mr. Jenkins door, waiting out of harms way until the friend waves him the all-clear. Then as soon as he is at the door with his friend the door opens and an unhappy Mr. Jenkins demands to know why they are on his porch.
I have been on both sides of that story and I didn’t like how it ended either way. It is humiliating to realize you are a coward; a coward for allowing someone else to do the dirty work and a coward for letting someone cajole you into doing the dirty work. I am certain that if I had been in Adam’s shoes I would have had a fruit pie made before the serpent even started talking. I have had too many opportunities through the years to see my brokenness in full bloom to think otherwise. My only comfort is that I am pretty sure most everyone else from Adam on would have the same problem.
We have made it too easy to understand brokenness as normal and even romantic. We say things like:
“I did it for love.”
“The devil made me do it.”
“That’s just the way I am.”
“My mother/father didn’t love me enough.”
“If you loved me, you would accept me the way I am.”
And the list could go on. They are phrases and ideas that try to rationalize our brokenness, to place the blame elsewhere, but our brokenness is ours and ours alone. Let me be clear that the experiences we have that break us and twist the truth in our hearts and minds are real and regrettable. However, there is a difference between being hurt and using the fact that you were hurt as a rationale for remaining broken.
We may come by our brokenness through our own disobedience, the disobedience of someone else or a combination of the two, buy regardless of where our brokenness comes from, it only bears fruit in our lives if we choose to do nothing about it. We have to decide that wholeness is a worthy pursuit. We have to choose not to be defined by our brokenness, but by the One who can make us whole.
So that leaves us with some questions. Are we willing to discover our brokenness? Are we willing to see our weaknesses and wounds with God’s eyes and endure the pain that healing requires? Can we forgive those who broke us (including ourselves) and extend love and mercy? For wholeness does not come easily or without pain and suffering. It is does not come in a convenient checklist or a witty self-help book. It is through a willingness to seek truth without fearing the consequences. This is the wholeness Christ suffered for, the life He died for, the joy He rose for and He is a gentle healer.
In the words of one well acquainted with brokenness: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24 (NRSV)