Session 3 Video (From Ann Voskamp’s “The Broken Way”)
Blog Response (written by: Nikki Laureano)
My parents divorced when I was young, and most of my earliest memories spawn from a season of my life that was very lonely. I grew up living with my biological mother, and my childhood was a time dampened by the cumbersome task of growing up too soon; it was a time when I wasn’t allowed to be a child. To anyone looking in, it appeared to be a content home, filled with fairy hunting at the park and Sunday mornings spent at mass. We were all very good at masquerading the darkness that lived under our roof. When it came to my relationship with my biological mother, her love was always conditional. If I did not abide by a certain code of conduct, the repercussion was emotional and physical abuse. This type of abuse conditioned me to believe that love was a transaction. Only after you give “that” will you receive “this.”
One summer, my father, and stepmother won full custody of me. And—eventually—the wounds from her physical abuse healed. But as I grew older, the emotional wounds continued to unfold. It’s these very wounds that have caused the most heartache, anger, and destructive behavior. I became an adult holding onto the subconscious belief that the abuse I endured was directly indicative of my self-worth.
And so it went, my life was filled with self-sabotage and brokenness. I turned to worldly things like sex, drugs, and alcohol to wrap my shame in bandages—anything to fool myself into thinking I alone had my life under control and that I was okay. I destroyed quality friendships and trust among my parents. One year, I even begged God to help me experience true, raw love. And when He answered this prayer in the form of a sweet—yet unexpected—baby girl, I continued to turn my back on Him. The more control I prided myself on having, the more out of control my life became. It became so messy that I put my life and my daughter’s life in danger by prioritizing promiscuity and excessive drinking. I continued to find myself in the midst of adulterous, toxic relationships, and I continually failed to listen to God’s call. The further I spiraled into my own paralyzing selfishness and oppressing excuses, the further I felt from being worthy or loved. The more I focused on my own default settings, the quieter His whispers became.
Deep down, I knew God was always knocking on my door, patiently waiting for me to open it and for me to welcome Him inside. But how could I open the door? How could I bare my heart and my soul, and reveal the seemingly unsoothable pain of my brokenness? Why would anyone want to come inside? How could anyone want to STAY? How could anyone love ME?
When we don’t believe in ourselves, or that we are worthy of love, we begin to put up walls around our hearts. We begin to walk down the path of deception and destruction. We only give because we can control it, and the control makes us comfortable. We gain weight to protect us from malice. We grow our hair out so we can hide our face, hoping to shield us from the gazes of those who may see who we are at our very core. Maybe, just maybe, if I could stuff down all my pain and disgrace…. If I could just stuff it down deep enough, maybe even God couldn’t see it.
But God sees me. He sees ALL of us. And He knows all of the days behind us and the days to follow. He alone can cast out our darkness. When we abide in Jesus, we are in the light.
In John 8, a woman is brought to Jesus who has been caught in the act of adultery. Jesus shows her mercy, and He calls her to repentance:
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NIV)
Much like the woman in this passage, it was not until I surrendered all to Him that I could finally see again. I could feel Him reach into my life and save me from the suffocating secrets. I could feel God pulling me closer and I finally slipped into the waters of His grace and gave in completely. I stopped fighting and I opened the door. I let Him into my brokenness. And there, I found the unconditional love of the Holy Spirit waiting, just as it had always been.
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, Out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock And gave me a firm place to stand.” (Psalm 40:1-2)
The word Koinonia is a Greek word that means “to share in a thing,” or communion. There was nothing I had to do to win over the Lord. His love and mercy were already inside of me. I only needed to accept it and BE. All that was required of me was to jointly participate in my relationship with Him. All I had to do was reach out and let His good light overpower my darkness. I had to surrender all my secrets aloud—confess, and reach out to pursue God. Only then could I be healed by His good brokenness.
In turn, I have been able to share my blessed brokenness with those around me. And now, after all of these years, I am able to be the CHILD I so longed to be when I was growing up. Only now, I get to be a child of the One True King.
So, I ask you this… if we are not open to receive His love and grace, how can we give and receive, in any capacity, to others? How can we truly live cruciform and proclaim His glory? We are all candles, needing the flame of His grace to give unto others.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14 NIV)
Our vulnerability is NOT a weakness. It is a testimony of God’s strength and love for His children. You will never know what experiences or gifts God is sending your way until you BREAK YOURSELF OPEN to receive them. So, give God your brokenness and find your identity in Him. Put on the LOVE of Jesus Christ and feel the unfaltering, everlasting grace that your soul deeply desires.
Write one of these identities in Christ down (or pick one on your own) and remind yourself of it each morning. Maybe even post it on your bathroom mirror or somewhere you will see it often.
- Chose, holy, and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12)
- Holy and blameless in His sight (Ephesians 1:4)
- God’s child (Galatians 4:7)
- Made new (2 Corinthians 5:17)
- Beautiful and flawless (Song of Solomon 4:7)
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.
- Do you ever feel as if you need to clean up your life of sin before Jesus releases you from condemnation?
- Why do you suppose we still often feel condemned instead of free to receive mercy?
- How have others helped you to believe you are loved unconditionally?
If any of you need prayer we are here for you. You are NOT alone! Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and someone from the writing team will get back to you as soon as possible.
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 3” 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, February 14th. We hope to see you there!
Missed a Week?
No problem! Check out Session 2: Living Cruciform to catch up!