Brokenness is a Gift

 ”He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3




My parents emailed and asked if Dave and I could Skype before the kids woke up. I immediately went to worst case scenarios….death, cancer, affairs…. my mind was a swirling mess. When we finally Skyped in the darkness of early morning, I clutched tightly to Dave with one hand and my cup of coffee with the other. Dad said, “I need to tell you that you have a brother… a child I had with a girl before coming to Christ and before I met your mom. She and I never saw the baby, we gave it up for adoption.

And I burst out laughing.

I laughed hard. The relief, the absurdity, the nerves, all mixed into one brought out the giggles in me. All I could think of saying was, “I have a brother?” in my best Tommy Boy impersonation.

However, the laughter quickly dissipated and turned to tears, which became sobs.

I cried for a week.

My closest friends held me and listened as I blubbered away. Then came the anger. Anger at the betrayal. Anger at the secrets.

It wasn’t the sin that angered me, it was the secret kept for 35 years of my life.  It was not knowing the answer to so many questions lying just below the surface, the missing piece to the puzzle of so many things left unsaid throughout my life.

And then came brokenness. I was, no I am, broken. Broken for my dad, holding his pain inside all his life, wishing he had known he could have told. Broken for my mom, protecting her husband all these many long years, wanting to share with her daughters, but choosing to honor the wishes of the love of her life instead. Broken for closeness my dad and I missed, him always holding back a little bit of his heart. Broken for all the years I thought his holding back was my fault…something wrong with me.

We traveled back, the kids and I, to the States for a visit, broken.

But even through the brokenness, I found so many gifts.

The gift of traveling back to the States to work things out face to face with my family. The sweet gift of reconciliation and closeness that comes from being broken together. The gift of meeting a brother I didn’t know I had only months ago. The gift of opening up to friends and realizing that this frees them to be open about their brokenness…who knew?

The gift of falling into the arms of my Savior, with nothing to give, nothing to offer, but simply coming in my broken state before Him, to let Him heal my wounds.

Through all of this, I have come to look at my dad, the head pastor of a large church, standing broken before his congregation, as a gift.

Sharing brokenness with one another is a gift.

By showing our brokenness to one another Jesus and His power can more clearly shine through. When we keep it to ourselves, try to clean up our story, our sin, and only show our beauty to one another, that is what they see.

Our beauty. Beauty that is man-made and hollow.

But when we take the brave step of sharing our ugliness, our pain, our broken pieces, then His beauty can shine through, and it is truly beautiful.

He gets the glory of a life redeemed. Not us.

His glory shines through the mess. He picks up the pieces, our broken pottery lying on the ground, and begins to fit them all together the most beautiful mosaic, so much more beautiful than we could ever dream or imagine. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7

And that is why I share this with you today. I give you this gift of my brokenness, my family’s brokenness, that His glory might shine brightly through us.

Even now, as I prepare to publish this post, my flesh screams out to protect, to keep hidden. My mind thinks, “But you know she will be reading this, and you know she will judge.” And I want to hit the delete button, to push it back, to keep it my secret.

But He says no.

He says, this is what His Son has done for me. He was broken, spilled out, laid bare for me. How can I not do the same?  So I follow my Savior and my dad’s humble examples and choose not to protect myself, but to point to Him.

To show my brokenness, that His name be lifted high.

Here is my gift of brokenness to you. My dad, my hero, sharing with our congregation, his story of brokenness.

A personal story Alan shared in the weekend services. from Good Shepherd Community Church on Vimeo.


O Lord, let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up,

that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart,

that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,

that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,

that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from the deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter thy starts shine;

Let me find thy light in my darkness, thy life in my death, thy joy in my sorrow,

thy grace in my sin, thy riches in my poverty, thy glory in my valley.“- Valley of Vision

May God shine brightly. To Him be the glory.

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  • Katie

    Hi Grace! So sorry you have to go through this, but I rejoice that The Lord is good and He can restore brokenness. I lived in Boring during this time and knew many people at your dad’s church who were touched by this story. I was encouraged by the testimony he had and the forgiveness he sought. Hugs to you and your family and glory be to God for setting your dad free from this burden!

  • Brenda

    Tears roll down my face listening to the story your dad so humbly shares…..and what truth resonated in my heart when he talked about…….that the ugly parts of our story are indeed part of our story….and our stories show God’s love at work in our lives. You see, I have not been sharing my whole story out of fear of what others would think…..and in not, am not living in my story or allowing God to use it for His Glory! Thank you for sharing this ….it means more than you will ever know!

    • Joy

      You are so welcome. I am so glad that God is showing us that when we don’t hide the ugly, His power can be more clearly seen. :)


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  • Jenny

    Joy, I get this. Completely. As I sit in my living room at 5 am, nearly a year after you posted this, recovering from a concussion I got last week, and living in a rented home that is not my home… I get this. My husband, our family is in Ministry and through a crazy turn of events, we are not in ministry at the moment, but back from a nearby City, where we went to serve, and didn’t feel at home. Now we’re back in our hometown and don’t fit here anymore either.

    We’re waiting on God at the moment. And clearly I’ve been stalking your blog this early morning because I’m referring to your coming back to the US. I’m just saying THANK YOU for this blog, these posts, and I TOTALLY GET IT. Our friends and family acted as though we were going to a foreign country when we left this small town and went to the big city. In some ways they were right. And even as our hearts longed to be here, once we got here, our hearts longed to be back there, with those people, in those neighborhoods, in that city.

    So we’re (hopefully at the end of 3 months of) waiting. For a job for my husband, and for peace, and justice and the end of this current turmoil. And to top if off, I’ve been off work for a week because of a concussion, obtained when my 5-year-old slid the van door closed on my head.

    God bless you and your family, wherever you are and wherever you go. And thank you for sharing your heart.

  • Grace Robideau

    Thank you for allowing the Lord to use you to be a blessing and encouragement! So many of your posts have been exactly what I needed right now. And thank you for being so real, I feel as though I know you although we’ve never met.