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Session 1: How Do We Live This One Broken Life?

Session 1 Video (From Ann Voskamp’s “The Broken Way”)

Blog Response (written by: Kensie Story)

There are some mornings we will never forget. Most begin the same – get up, get ready, go to work – mundane, like white noise you hardly notice. But sometimes, without warning, we get a morning that changes the very direction of our lives.

This was one of those mornings. The sun had barely come up; my alarm for work hadn’t even gone off yet. My dogs and my husband all snuggled around me in bed. This is the life.

The pounding and loud voices were mob-like. They still echo in my ears today like a reoccurring nightmare. I jolted upward – confused, barely awake. I started hitting my husband’s arm. What is that? What’s going on? Who is in our house?

My dogs started growling and showing their teeth to the bedroom door. This isn’t a dream. They hear it too. By the time my husband was awake enough to comprehend the noise, our bedroom door swung open with force and a team of police charged in.

What looked like machine guns pointed directly at our faces, something I’d only ever seen in movies. The police were yelling – PUT YOUR HANDS UP. PUT YOUR HANDS UP. My dogs were barking – INTRUDERS. INTRUDERS. My husband and I sitting were in bed – wide-eyed, motionless, defenseless.

We convince ourselves we’ll never be here. We live in a façade of wholeness when inside we are broken. We build our foundations on the world, its people, and its promises. Every time our brokenness floats to the surface we tie weights to it and let it drown into the depths of the unseen and unnoticed.

How do we live this one broken life?

How do we learn to embrace it?

What do we do when all feels hopeless?

My husband and I were being arrested for drug possession. A simple “I’ll try it once” turned into a lifestyle we never intended. You draw a line that you think you’ll never cross. You tip toe over it once, it feels like nothing, but slowly overtime you’ve tip toed so often that the line has significantly moved from its original place.

As we were placed inside our holding cells it still hadn’t fully absorbed. I was trying to tie those weights again and let reality sink, but this time it refused to be drowned.

Being from a small town, the news went viral. Everybody knew. I would hide in my hoodie wherever I went. I could barely go grocery shopping because I panicked every time I saw someone I recognized.

Shame. Guilt. Regret. The enemy was cooking and I was feasting. Losing every bit of what I had placed my identity in left me feeling empty, alone, hopeless.

In Psalm 42 and 43, David was feeling hopeless too, but He knew the way out.

“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again – my Savior and my God!” (Psalm 42:5, 11 and Psalm 43:5)

The original Hebrew word for praise means, “to confess, give thanks, and glorify/praise”. David knew that confession, thankfulness, and glorifying God would lead to healing and it’s what led to healing for me too.

Confession.

I confessed my brokenness to God. I admitted my sins and asked for forgiveness. This wasn’t an overnight process. It took a lot of prayer, a lot of tears, and a lot of perseverance. Feeling completely broken is a hard thing to face, but once we surrender it to the ultimate healer, releasing our grip of control, God redeems our bad for His good.

“Unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels – a plentiful harvest of new lives.” (John 12:24)

I had lived so long avoiding my brokenness; I never understood it was actually the way toward restoration, healing, and freedom. Like Ann Voskamp says, in her study The Broken Way, “For a seed to become fully its own, it must become wholly undone.” Once I understood this, I could move to step two in David’s plan.

Thankfulness.

I was bitter when I first was exposed. I was ashamed that I was so broken. But now I am grateful. I thanked God for my broken mess, because through it I found what grace and love really look like. The kind of grace that says, “Despite your flaws, you are beautiful. Despite your mistakes, you have a purpose. Despite what you do or have done, you are always and perfectly loved by God.”

“You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” (Song of Solomon 4:7)

That kind of grace is something I would never trade and leads to step three.

Glorifying God.

Now that I understood that my brokenness was a gift, I wanted to tell the whole world of what God had done! When that kind of grace is poured over you, when it reaches the untouched corners of your soul, you can’t help but want to share it.

“I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart, I will declare all your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1)

I shared my story with friends, family, anyone. I wanted everyone to know how amazing God is and what He had done for me and my husband. By glorifying God, it took the spotlight off my ugly and shined a light on His beauty instead. It helped release the guilt and regret I had and moved me towards healing and freedom.

So, are you ready to do this too? We can do it together – one foot in front of the other along “the broken way” to freedom. On the other side of this fog, God is waiting with baskets full of love and pockets full of grace. It only takes one step to start walking and I’m holding your hand, encouraging you along.

You can do it.

I believe in you.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

For more encouragement from Kensie Story, please visit her personal blog here!


Weekly Challenge

Face and embrace one broken thing in your past. Surrender it by sharing it with a trusted friend, or even better by sharing it with God in prayer.

Discussion Questions (From Ann Voskamp’s “The Broken Way”)

Feel free to answer and discuss these in the comments section below if you feel comfortable.

  1. How easy is it for you today to put your hope in God? Why?
  2. Can you imagine giving thanks for your brokenness? Why or Why not?
  3. How have you experienced the power of God in the very place of your brokenness?

Prayer Requests

If any of you need prayer we are here for you. You are NOT alone! Please send an email to support@beautifullybroken.blog and someone from the writing team will get back to you as soon as possible.

What’s next?

Thank you so much for joining our study! If you are following along with us in the book, feel free to go through “Between Sessions: Session 1” in Ann Voskamp’s “The Broken Way”. This will solidify what we’ve just learned and prepare you for the next topic. The next blog will be available Tuesday, January 31st. We hope to see you there.

17 thoughts on “Session 1: How Do We Live This One Broken Life?

  1. I love the concept of ‘cracked blessings’ … Question 2 asks us if we can imagine giving thanks for our brokenness. I love this quote from the video, “To join Christ in his suffering is to recognize that our brokenness insomuch as it connects us to the brokenness of Him, is a gift- a catalyst for gratitude.”

    Six years ago, I never would have considered giving thanks for my brokenness. Today, however I absolutely can and do on a regular basis- all of it- every single crack (and I have a LOT). Why? Because He has taken every broken piece of my life and used it- yes USED it- to bless another. I have been given the distinct blessing of walking alongside so many amazing women as a direct result of the wounds I have experienced. I am able to speak into the hearts of others in broken places BECAUSE I, like them, have experienced deep brokenness. So, praise the Lord! It wasn’t just for Joseph that God took what was intended for evil and used it for good… He’s still in the business of doing it today!! ❤ Would love to hear how session one has impacted you! ❤️

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  2. Maybe our hearts were made to be broken? What a perspective twist. If that IS the case, doesn’t that alter our conception of pain and suffering? For in our weakness, HE IS………

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  3. Thank you for sharing your testimony, Kensie. I love how seamlessly it fits alongside Session One.

    I was touched most when Ann said that Jesus is right there with us in our sufferings. He loves us SO much that He endures alongside us. We sometimes forget that when we are in the valleys of our lives, the lowest parts, that He is always there with a guiding hand on our shoulder. And that when our hearts are broken, it is not out of disgrace–it’s to LET THE LOVE IN!!! Out of my own selfishness, I used to get angry with God. But now I am so grateful for my past, my brokenness. Now that I know what is within me, I can love without borders. And I do just that through Him! ❤

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  4. The question, “How do you live unafraid of broken things?” stirred me.

    At first, I thought, “The answer is simple. Through Jesus. Through Him.” To throwback to first grade: Duh!

    Later on, my sister joined us for dinner. She had attended the wake of an estranged friend’s father earlier. My sister had known the father very well. When she arrived, her friend and her mother caused my sister to question whether or not she should have come. She went because she had respect for the man and for the old friendship. She asked me last week if she should go or not. My response was, “Yes, it is the right thing to do.” I thought to myself, I hope that girl would show up for my sister if the situation were reversed.

    Now, that got the wheels in my mind turning and my chest tightened thinking of one or both of my parents passing, or my grandparents, or a sibling. My family has been fortunate, we have faced difficult trials – my immediate family has survived bouts of cancer and sicknesses – but we are all still on earth together. My great grandma lived to 100, just passing 2 years ago! How has God blessed me so greatly?

    Now, back to the question at hand, “How do you live unafraid of broken things?” That tightening in my chest, the tears welling up in my eyes, and feeling of panic – now, I can turn to Jesus. Do I still feel that fear? Yes, but there is a way out of it: I can give it all over to him in prayer (as Ann talks about on pages 26-27). It doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt to think about, but I know that God has it. He has everything, and I don’t have to live in fear.

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  5. Not sure if I can give up my brokenness yet there so much. I am ready to give my suicidal thoughts. I have attempt six time this year but it’s been two month and I have not done anything but it’s a struggle so I am ready to give it up.

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    1. Oh sweet Linda! Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing that with us. Our hearts go out to you and we will pray for your sweet spirit to be lifted as you journey out of your broken places. You are not alone. Your struggles are real and we understand your pain. Please know that you are LOVED. Your Heavenly Father chose you and created you! He loves you so much! We love you too. You have prayer warrior sisters on your side now Linda- we are here for you. ❤

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    2. Linda,
      I also used to feel that this world would be better off without me. That no one would miss me. I have also burried family members who gave into these thoughts.
      Please try to trust that you are worthy and loved unconditionally. Those thoughts are not put in your head by our loving God but by the enemy who’s one job is to destroy His Kingdom.
      John 10:10 has saved me from
      myself multiple times
      “the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it in abundance.”
      You are loved…you are worthy.
      L

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  6. Thank you for this blog and for your honesty and transparency. I’m going through The Broken Way as well and it’s so encouraging to find other sojourners along the way. Thank you for providing a place to process all that God is doing.

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  7. This is beautiful! In a world that demands we be tough and not be vulnerable it is so refreshing to be reminded that pain is an inevitable part of our journey and through pain, if we choose to seek Him, Jesus will walk through our situations with us. We are never alone.
    I wish there was a guarantee that once you have been hurt you have paid your dues but there is no way to avoid being hurt as long as we continue to be loving human beings. It is inevitable.
    I have had an amazing journey the past 9 years and unfortunately was once again badly hurt about a year ago. I remember a conversation with my adult son who asked me how much more I thought God was going to demand of me. My reply was, I am hurt but Jesus has gotten me through so many worse situations and always raised me to a higher level if I chose his path. I was excited to see where I would be a year from then.
    Two days ago I returned from the trip of a lifetime to my childhood home in Australia. It was the most life-affirming trip I have ever taken and had I not been so badly hurt and seeking healing I never would have been so bold. But once again my faith has carried me through.
    I love being a cracked pot! Put a candle underneath and see the light shine through!

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    1. Thank you for sharing that even though we experience victory in life, there are still seasons of struggle and pain. Thank you for pointing us to the Lord, who is clearly your strength!

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  8. Thank you everyone for sharing your stories. We are all so different but still very much the same. You all are amazing, strong women! ❤

    How do you live unafraid of broken things? What a journey this has been for me. Many years filled with faith but thinking I was being punished or wasn't good enough, or didn't fit in. A broken childhood filled with fear, anxiety and judgement. The one woman who loved to a fault and was trying to protect me and would have given her life for me planted those things in me never realizing the damage. Her feelings of brokenness and inadequacies she unknowingly yet lovingly passed on to me – what a legacy.

    A childhood filled with loud arguing, violence, drugs, alcohol, hospitals, police and even murder – fear and anxiety was overflowing in my home and in me and I never realized it. The center of all of this were my brothers. Their behaviors would cause these things, my father's anger and disappointment and attempts at bringing them to living a good and responsible life were countered by my mother's never ending co-dependency. She felt the only way to show she loved was to support and provide for them. Always reminded to never speak of what was happening in our home for fear of being judged by the neighbors who happened to all be of the same nationality and religion. They were "not like us"; we were "different" than they were, they wouldn't accept us.

    As my parents were wrapped up in the dysfunction of my brother's lives, I turned into a pleaser, afraid to cause any additional stress – fondled/abused by a neighbor and by one of my brother's friends. Oh man, I didn't dare share that – it would be more police, more fighting, more blame. A little girl trying to be the source of my parents' happiness; be a good girl, don't cause any trouble, keep them from arguing, help them smile, help them stay married. Way too much responsibility and stress for a child. As the noise, arguing and fighting carried on I found comfort in not only trying to make everyone happy, but also in food. I covered my brokenness with chips and candy as did my parents. Another "thing" that made me different – another crack. You can't wear that, you're too heavy. You're not built like your friends, you have to wear clothes that cover up your rolls.

    I struggled with fad diets, starvation, diet pills and went from 175 lbs at 8th grade graduation to 126 lbs on the first day of my Freshman year. I hung out with burnouts but was, by the grace of God, able to remain a good student and was active in school government. I wanted to fit in with the cool kids and experimented with drugs but didn't like not being me. Luckily I met my high school sweetheart that pulled me from that group.

    Throughout my childhood I was drawn to God, to the Church. I attended a Pentecostal church with my Grandmother occasionally. A babysitter invited me to Sunday School at her Methodist Church – eventually I got my parents to attend for a couple of years. My Father worked two jobs to put us all through private schools – which happened to be Ukrainian Catholic – of which we were neither. I always thrived in Sunday School and excelled in religion classes. I found peace in The Word, the hope, the faith, the good in people, serving others. My parents were called to my high school by my religion teach to inform them that I had a gift that should be nurtured – Mom felt they were trying to recruit me to become a nun and she made it clear that would not work for her. 🙂 I eventually was baptized in the Catholic church – Catholic, I believe, because I wanted to "fit in" with my friends.

    This broken childhood led to a broken adulthood: two "failed" marriages to broken men that "needed" me – they loved my upbeat personality, my joy, my tender soul. Did they fail? Or was I strong – did I survive? Of course, my Mom felt it necessary to let me know both times that it was my weight that caused these two men to seek relationships outside of our marriage. Do I regret these marriages? Maybe at the time….but now, now that I know who I am in Christ – now that I know the blessings of the broken path? Absolutely not!!

    I have two beautiful children, one from each of my marriages. The truth with the relationships, yes I Ioved these men. I invested 12 years in the first relationship and 16 years in the second. I loved them, but I believe I wanted to "fit in", I didn't let God do his work – I took over and tried to build the life that everyone wanted to see. I didn't wait to see what God had in store for me, a man with whom I had common interests, a man of faith, a man He sent to me. Instead I wanted to prove to my mother that I could find someone to love me despite my weight issues. I looked for someone who "needed" me and what I had to offer, someone who wouldn't leave because they needed me. I prayed, I prayed a lot. I was ridiculed for my faith by both husbands and always stood alone in my faith. I went to Church as I was dealing with the pain of the broken relationships, the broken promises, the broken dreams. I got angry and shared my "survivor" strength with everyone – my anger, my "I don't need him", "I don't need a man", "I can handle this". I had meaningless physical relationships to "prove" I was attractive, men did want me.

    In reality it was God who was carrying me through it all! I'm sure he was heartbroken as I made many bad and self-destructive choices that certainly a parent would not want a child to make. He kept me alive, as suicide often crossed my mind after my first divorce. The comments of my mother, who did the best she could do, raced (and continue to jog today) through my head of not being good enough, thin enough to be loved, what are people going to say about a 2nd divorce? I cracked – on a normal day, a typical stressor caused an extraordinary response that could have ended very differently. I jumped out of a moving car – thank goodness we weren't on a busy street or a highway. Who would've thought? Me, sweet, thoughtful, loving, caring Tammy would feel so hopeless that she would put herself and her children at risk. This is when my faith caught fire…God does his best work during our times off weakness.

    It was my daughter, my first born who said "Mom, I think you should see someone, a counselor. I'll go with you." Who would have thought my "child" would be the one to give her college educated mother life saving direction? God led me to a counselor, not a Christian counselor, through my employer's assistance program. My first words to him as I sat in his chair were: "I'm just so broken" It was this counselor who reminded me of my strong faith, and urged me to reconnect with my faith – my Church.

    That second divorce did hit hard! God however, planted me in McHenry, and had a plan in mind for me. He placed a nail technician in my path who was grounded in her faith and introduced me to The Chapel. He had another friend around the corner who was grounded in her faith who shared a business opportunity full of believers. She added me to a Voxer Bible Study – which I thought was a little weird. It was in this little group that God planted one of his warriors who shook my soul every time she shared on this Group. God had me sign up for a Bible Study – "Daughters" – where I was able to see meet this warrior in person – she then gave birth to this Beautifully Broken group where we can help each other and help other women to see their Beauty in Christ – despite their mess. A group where we are blessed to touch others, share and give back. A group that allows women who may think there is no way out, or that they aren't "enough" see how Christ worked in our messes and continues to work through our Brokenness.

    In the past, I reacted, then leaned in to God. Now, I've learned that He is my Comforter – if I forget, I lean into the friends he perfectly placed in my path – who remind me to lean into Him. The best advice I ever received from my faith filled entrepreneur: "Tammy, He's trying to pull you closer – just pray." She gave me this advice as my Mother was dying and our family blew up – dysfunction at its best – broken relationships, hurtful words, arguments, and physical aggression. Guess what? I leaned in to HIM – completely raw and broken! I am able to love those that hurt me and still aren't talking to me. I am able to go on without hate and hurt. I am able to forgive them, pray for them and hope that one day we can be a family again. God is good and through Him all things are possible.

    The struggle isn't over – a work in progress. But, those broken pieces with sharp edges help me to cut through the messes that continue to throw up roadblocks. My cracks allow the love of Jesus to flow out; they allow the light that shines in me to shine on others around me. Christ is my strength to not be afraid of broken things…through hope, faith, comfort and love.

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