As we walk through our lives, we meet people who seem to shine from within. They have wisdom, grace and a discernment that is rare. They may or may not be well known, popular or do "big things." However, they are the ones who family, friends, churches or even strangers happening by just seem to turn to. They are broken people.
Broken people are those who have been hurt, scarred, maligned, abused, molested or the target of gossip. Yet they remain fixed, hopeful and determined to not allow what has happened to them to determine their destiny.
Broken people have an aura of determination about them ... a peacefulness, if you will. This person will turn heaven and earth to fight for someone else, yet have a "come what may" stance when it comes to themselves. Everyone who has ever been hurt is not necessarily a broken person. Rather, broken people are the ones who have chosen to take their brokenness and do something with it. God helping them, they respond by allowing their brokenness to bring them to the only one who can heal, allow him to heal, and then pour unto others through their brokenness.
A characteristic you will never see in a broken person, a truly broken person, is pride. Pride hinders the flowing, and pride stops the willingness of God to work through them. As soon as it is sensed, a humbling happens, and humility is restored. I have a personal opinion here and that is: One reason he often uses broken people is that they will not touch the glory. The deadly poison of pride is not in their lives. A pastor told my daughter and some other Bible College students this past week: "If you ever get to the place that you think you've done such and such, it's time to get out. And I mean get out of the ministry." It is God who does the "work." She's mentioned it many times as the impact has changed her life forever with that one piece of advice.
A popular author and speaker was being discussed the other day. I replied without even thinking, "What's she been through?"
The person didn't miss a beat and replied, "She was abused when she was a child."
"Oh, that makes sense," I thought.
You see, abuse paves the way to humility and usefulness. When you've been delivered from it, you have thankfulness in your life. Often thankfulness is the catalyst to helping others. You want them to experience the freedom you now possess.
You see, it is not what happens to you that determines your usefulness to mankind, it is your response to it. Your response to any given situation can mean the difference between becoming bitter or becoming better. Teaching this to bereaved clients daily, I have a humble reminder that crying out about God to him is a far cry from talking about God behind his back ... if that were even possible. Crying out to him brings healing. Crying around about him leads to bitterness and a sense of betrayal. That's a big difference.
Because of my job, I am reminded daily of Psalm 34:18 - "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit." There is truly a special working and anointing upon someone who is turning to God and not away from him in their brokenness.
There have been times I have met folks who just radiate kindness, contentment and peace. I often wonder, but rarely ask, "So, whatcha been through?" I heard the story of a young adopted boy who formerly dug through trash heaps for food in another country. The young man radiated peace and a thankfulness you and I rarely witness. He refused to allow his "rough start" to determine his attitude, but rather he chose the attitude he wanted to experience. We've all heard the little cliche, "don't be a thermometer, be a thermostat."
I have seen abused children grow up and turn to drugs, food and promiscuity to try and forget their abuse. However, I have also seen abused children grow up and make their abuse a ladder and a stepping stone to helping others who have been abused. Now, never discount the impact of a good teacher, counselor, mentor or friend that goes a long way to helping someone who is broken. Also, never discount the use of doctor prescribed medications to realign the chemicals of the brain that have been depleted through abuse. There are 4-year-olds whose nervous systems are "shot" due to abusive environments. Medicines and counseling go a long way in God's plan to helping broken people.
If you or someone you know is a broken person and you feel your life is not worth living, take heart, it is the broken ones God is close to. It is the broken ones he uses to accomplish his purpose. Let's take a look: Jesus used a prostitute to proclaim his word after she met him. God used a converted murderer to write much of the Bible. God used David who had to run for his literal life in several instances due to the jealousy of someone who simply could not defer any of the praise. He was then running a length of time from his own son who sought to kill him. Then he walked with God, but then stole a man's wife and had the poor fellow killed. Can you say dysfunction? But then David turns to God and continues on to write the most comforting book of the Bible: Psalms. Did these folks first come to him for forgiveness and healing? Oh yes, but then he used them, broken as they may have been, to accomplish his will.
Are you broken and feel worthless? Have you been abused or possibly have you abused others and did things you are so ashamed of? Are you afraid of your past determining your future? Take heart and never fear. He is there for the asking and waiting with open arms to run into and be safe. He will use you dear broken one. He will rebuild your life and give you hope, purpose and peace. He will take those ashes of your life and make something absolutely beautiful out of them.
"The lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18
(Kimberly Short-Wolfe, MA, is a homeschool mom and the grief counselor and a chaplain for Mountain Hospice. To contact her, call 304-637-7018 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.)