Cracked, Flawed, and Broken

I've been listening a lot lately. Listening to recorded books while I endlessly drive all over the county, listening to conversations at the next table, listening to my teens in my kitchen. 

Characters in books, adult women, teens - we all have this in common: we like to talk about each other. This isn't news, is it? 

If I'm being honest with myself, I can confess to anyone that I am cracked, flawed, and broken without the hope of fixing any of my flaws all by myself. To be sure, there are many tools I've used over the years to help heal the areas of my life that have seen damage, but ultimately, as a woman who puts her hope in Jesus Christ's finished redemption, I believe that God is the only true healer here.

I also compensate for my overly-nerdy, introverted, "gifted", think-too-deeply, live-inside-my-head tendencies by talking far, far too much. Dead conversational space makes me physically queasy, and I cope by talking. By saying what could be said in 5 words with 105. Only the most patient of friends put up with me (and that's like two). 

In all the recent listening, I'm learning about other women what I have missed in a thousand conversations I've listened to before. We are all cracked, flawed, and broken.

That uppity woman who needs for all the other women to know how much money she makes or that she writes her thank you notes on Crane stationery and bought her boots at Bergdorfs? She's probably wildly insecure.

That teen who heartlessly puts down all the other teens around her and surrounds herself with a friend or two who giggle at her insults and snide remarks under her breath? This is an obvious one, isn't it? She's so insecure in who she is becoming that she's creating a wall no one else can penetrate. She'll have to spend the rest of her life tearing it down, brick by brick. 

That overly-chatty friend who seems to talk endlessly about the things going on in her world in profuse abundance and droll detail? Well, that would be me, and I'm trying to compensate for my own social ineptitude. 

How does it change us, as women, to realize that the woman sitting next to us at the swim team parent meeting is just as cracked, flawed, and broken as we are? How does it alter our view to realize that she is compensating, too: for a failing marriage, for a lack of love growing up, for her personality that isn't endearing or funny or "winning"? 

Here's the charge: Let's love each other well. Let's be the brave women who smile tenderly and openly at the woman chattering incessantly next to us. Let's be the generous hearts who see past the exaggerated accomplishment stories and bragging about children, who reach out and say, "I'm cracked, flawed and broken, but I can be your friend."

There is a time for boundaries, you know? Sometimes cracks, flaws, and brokenness lend themselves to lashing out and hurting others. I'll write more about that next time. 

When We Keep Criticizing the Big Names in Christendom

I have relationships with a few of the "big names" you know out there. Several are authors of international acclaim and the others are speakers and leaders in Christendom. By relationship, I mean, staying in their homes, emailing frequently, crying over texts and praying together, planning our next get-togethers. 

I have watched and weathered the flagrant criticism they've encountered over the past few years. I was at a conference with one who was followed incessantly by young, starry-eyed writers who pressed the author for time, an ear, a photo, and perhaps a lead to publication? 

That author friend is gracious and kind and sympathetic, but fame is not her arena and she struggles to pour herself out to the adoring fans. It takes everything she has within her and leaves her desert-dry.

Other author friends can't speak at conferences without an assistant, which maybe makes others look askance: "Who do they think they are?" , but is a necessity because of the expectations their fans have placed on them. Everyone wants a personal conversation; many are hoping the author can give them a word. The assistant can see the drain on the author and quietly pulls them away to rest and recovery. 

I hear the accusations. I see them passed around on Facebook and discussed by armchair pundits. 

"She speaks subtle heresy, she's a mystic, she misleads." 

"He has a plan that denigrates women."

"He's power hungry."

A direct hit: "You're tickling their ears, telling people what they want to hear."

My jaw drops open. Who are the Facebook and blog commenters talking about? These aren't the hearts I know. These aren't the passionate, lovely, Jesus-adoring, gospel-hungry, beautifully flawed and in-need-of-a-Savior friends I have come to love deeply and pray for with intensity. 

As I've carried the burden of yet another scathing judgment lobbed this month at friends I love, I become increasingly disgusted with this particular behavior of Christians. I'm not a big name but I've experienced the unfounded, self-righteous judgment of Christians, too, and though my personal narratives of criticism are on a smaller, less public scale, it's a tool that Satan often uses to tear down our confidence and tempt us to retreat into a safe and insulated cave that would cause our message of hope and Jesus to be snuffed out.

Do you see that? Snuffed out.

What God is using to draw others to Him, our careless and puffed-up proclamations dropped over the reputations of those God has put in the public eye are like the bucket of chemicals released from the underbelly of a fire plane and spread over the forest to put out a wildfire.

You're putting out the fire.

Perhaps before we spread our own version of what we think the author/speaker/big guy is like, we check our own hearts for the flaws. They're there. The flaws are why we need Jesus in the first place. No author, no book, no keynote speech is going to compare with the perfection of God's Word, so can we get that through our troubled hearts? 

No author is flawless.
No speaker is flawless.
No big name is flawless.
We all need Jesus.

Read the authors you love, put aside the books you don't. Stay away from the stuff you know to be the opposite of Scripture. But don't look for ways to take down the Jesus-loving author because if you're combing their work for inaccuracies, guess what? You're going to find them, every time.

Take all that critical energy and instead point everyone you know to Jesus.