The Broken Bless

 

Over the past seven years I have found myself bruised, broken, torn, bewildered, lonely, facing no answer to medical concerns, blanketed with the weight of depression, laying in a hospital bed undergoing back surgery in a foreign country, bombarded with panic attacks, gaining weight despite a healthful diet plan and 2 hour work-outs at the gym, getting the news that my mother had a heart attack and I was too far away to hold her hand or be present by her hospital bed, hearing the news that my son would not be released from prison- yet again, watching my husband bear the load of watching me have seizures on long-haul plane flights, being far from my home country when my younger brother had a stroke, experiencing my body go completely numb within three days’ time and having no answers after medical testing was done, saying hard good-byes to dear friends who I may never see again this side of heaven, missing out on births, weddings and the death of loved ones, walking a long valley of isolation and feeling the tremendous overbearing weight of the dark night of the human soul.

At times it felt like too much to bear. And I am sure that I frequently mentioned that to the Lord in my prayer journal.

It wasn’t that joy wasn’t sprinkled-brightly, in-between these great sorrows, losses or disappointments; but today as I re-think this journey of my life I am reminded of this thought. The broken bless!

Opportunity through brokenness

Those who are broken have a tremendous opportunity to use their brokenness as a means to gift others with; their empathy, compassion, mercy, understanding of pain, loss, bereavement, trial, difficulties and great sorrows.

As I look back at these past years I can easily see the dark, frayed and broken strands of my life; but I also see a tremendous gift that God has given me through these trials. Through the school of brokenness, I can greet others with mercy and compassion. I can withhold my judgmental voice because; “just maybe”, they too are wading through murky, rough waters.

There are no schools that give certificates or degrees for brokenness; but I believe that our Lord showed us most clearly that when we embrace our brokenness, we can become a healing balm to those around us.

Called into brokenness

As believers, Christ Himself calls us into brokenness. We each have the choice to curse, or to embrace our suffering; which then becomes the means in which we experience more of Christ Himself.

In our brokenness we draw nearer to the cross of Christ as we identify with His suffering. Through identifying with Christ, we see that our suffering has meaning and purpose.  

Only the Broken Can Bless

 

Only the broken can bless

Only the bruised can heal

Only despised and rejected ones

Truly know how it feels

 

Those praying in vain for relief

Relieve pain wherever they go

Those stumbling, bearing their cross

Best lift up the head weighed low

 

Chorus:

So take me into your arms

Lord, help me to make it through

There is nobody else who has suffered so much

To love me the way you do.

 

Only a love sacrifice

Is worthy of the name

Only a heart wrung out of life

Can make dead hearts beat again

 

Only the broken can bless

Only the bruised can heal

Only despised and rejected ones

Truly know how it feels

 

Chorus:

So take me into your arms

Lord, help me to make it through

There is nobody else who has suffered so much

To love me the way you do.

 

I’ve been broken so I can bless

I’ve been bruised to help you heal

Since I’ve been despised and rejected

I think I know how you feel

 

Chorus:

So come to my Savior’s arms

We will help you to make it through

There is nobody else who has suffered so much

To love you the way we do.

Written by: David J. Weaver

Used with permission

 

Author and missionary David J. Weaver says; “It is not enough that we identify with each other’s suffering. We must identify our suffering ultimately with Christ’s suffering if our suffering is to have meaning and purpose. Only by making that connection do we see our suffering as a means to God’s saving end in another person’s life.

When we see each line of the poem (*above) speaking of Christ, then we can see each line that speaks to our suffering – as having a specific purpose as well. Then, for the joy before us, we will endure our cross, despise its pain, and let God resurrect us as wounded healers of others.”

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV

Pause and Reflect:

Does your life carry with it a litany of bumps and bruises? Are you currently journeying through the valley of desolation? Is your pain so intense that you can’t see any way through it?

  • Can you see any parallels between your suffering and the suffering of Christ’s brokenness?

Christ’s pain was never wasted, it was offered up as a gift of life and redemption to all mankind.

  • What do you think it means to not waste your pain?

We waste our pain when we use it to curse God.

We waste our pain when we allow our desolation to bring us to the brink of despair.

We waste our pain when we turn our hearts against God, not realizing that our pain is a means for God to be glorified in our lives.

We waste our pain when we don’t use it as opportunity to be drawn to God and see that His power can do the impossible!

 

As we walk through the valley of suffering, we have a choice, we can either curl inward; not allowing God to use our brokenness as a channel in which His holy love can shine, or, we can use it as a means of the healing power of God to bring us to a place of reflecting His glory through praise and thanksgiving.  

Linda Jane Dingeldein: Different by Design

 

We can allow the touch of God to change us and use our brokenness to reveal Christ to others who need comfort and healing.

When Christ power shines through our brokenness, our pain will be used to draw mankind to Christ. The world will see the power of God work in the unbearable, impossibilities of our lives, and know that their brokenness can have purpose as well.

Prayer 

God, it’s not easy to endure suffering. I pray that I will have a heart of gratitude even when I am walking through difficulties, disappointments and trials. May my attitude towards suffering allow others to see your goodness and be drawn to You. May I use my brokenness as a means in which I can identify with the loss, pain and bereavement of others; and come along side of them with comfort, encouragement and grace.

God, your pain was not wasted. You offered up yourself as a means of redeeming all mankind to Christ. May my life be a living witness that also draws others to the redeeming work of Christ.

Give to me the opportunity to share my suffering, and the courage to enter the suffering of others. May my brokenness become a means to listen well, identify and bless others; and mostly of all, to glorify Your name.  

In Jesus Merciful Name. Amen

Linda Jane Dingeldein: Different by Design
Photography by Linda Jane Dingeldein

 

Linda Jane Dingeldein applauds the majesty of God shown in the fall foliage of Warren, Pennsylvania

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Conversation Connection

As my husband and I sat in a local coffee shop, we began a conversation with a young business man. The emblem on his shirt causing us to wonder what his line of work was. Just one, simple, inquisitive question opened the door for a fascinating conversation in which we learned that he was a financial planner who loved Jesus and used his line of work to represent Christ to those in his sphere of influence. A friendly conversation took off from there as we sat on common spiritual ground.

His passion rose to the surface as he expressed that he had been coming to the realization that often what we desire comes to fruition as we connect and have community with others. As we minister to others, we not only meet their need; but somehow in the process of giving, our own desires are met as well.

Stepping into the conversation

This has been a season of giving for me as I seek to live presently and fully out of each opportunity that God brings my way. I am learning to tune-in and hear beyond what people are saying on the surface. This closer look brings me to a place of discerning what people’s deeper issues and often real needs are. Most often the root concerns are left hidden in what is unspoken.

I know that I can’t meet everyone’s needs; but I believe that showing a genuine gesture of kindness or stopping to listen can be a start in ministering to them in the broken places of their lives.

I often ask myself; “Am I so wrapped up in my own concerns that I don’t consciously look beyond myself to see the needs of others?” “Do I guard my personal time so closely that I become stingy, self-centered and protective of what I consider to be mine?”

The Apostle Paul wrote in the book of Philippians:

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others.

Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

Each of you should look not only to your own interests,

but also to the interests of others.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 2:3-5

Starting the conversation

“I’m just not a good conversation starter!” I have often used this as my excuse to stay comfortable in my own-little-world; but the more I learn to embrace and live out of my own authenticity, the more I feel that I have something to offer others.  

In living out of my uniqueness, I can enter a conversation out of who I am and not worry about trying to present myself in a certain light.

As I enter the life of someone else through a conversation or a kindness, I find that the blessing is two-fold. I am blessed in the giving and they are blessed in the receiving.

Everyone likes to be noticed and kindness goes a long way in viewing others through the eyes of Christ! Evoking a conversation on top of that is often a bright-spot in their day!

After expressing to a friend how timid I felt at starting conversations, he told me; “Just be inquisitive! What strikes you as interesting about the other person? Ask them about it.”

Creating conversation opportunities 

Sometimes a meaningful conversation will start in areas that we often consider to be mundane.

  • A genuine smile is a great conversation starter!
  • Holding a door open and wishing someone a blessed day.
  • Stopping to acknowledge someone’s pet.
  • Drawing attention to something unique a person is wearing.
  • Asking about a book they are reading.
  • Finding a common ground of interests. (children, a hobby, education, health, a job, decorating, spiritual growth, food etc.) 

Creating common interests 

Not being a natural conversation starter, I often rely on areas of personal interest to get the conversation going. Lately for me, this has been essential oils, healthy eating, noticing that the other person has lived with chronic pain, or discovering what book the other person has just read.

Designing and creating unique handbags from leather is also a passion of mine.  I have always liked to sew and re-create things from reclaimed fabrics. When I see someone with a leather journal, an interesting leather pouch, leather earrings or a unique leather coat; I am instantly drawn in and feel like I have something in common with them. This has often become a conversation starter for me.

  • What are your interests, hobbies, life experiences or dreams? Look for ways to use them in starting a conversation with others.

Conversing Christ through our actions

“Not every acknowledgement will yield a fruitful conversation

But every genuine act of kindness will minister –

Even without a word being spoken.”

 Linda Jane Dingeldein: Different by Design

 

Asking the hard questions

  • What is one tangible step I can take today to reflect the love of Christ?
  • How can I intentionally minister to someone who has a physical need?
  • Am I willing to risk leaving my comfort zone to touch the life of someone who is suffering? How?
  • Is there someone I feel compelled to walk along side of through a hard situation?
  • Am I too wrapped up in my own troubles that I have become oblivious to the true needs of others? If so, how can this change?

So, whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.

Matthew 7:12

As I think of living each day purposefully in God’s presence, I am much more conscious that I must set myself aside and intentionally consider others. Whether it be a verbal conversation, a listening ear, a simple act of kindness or journeying alongside of someone who is struggling; this is the way of Christ.  

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

Isaiah 61:1-3

Let’s take time to reflect

  • How might we intentionally step into the journey of someone else’s life today?
  • How might we make the effort to enter into a caring conversation with someone else this week?
  • How might we choose to reflect the love of Christ with a simple act of kindness?

It is my prayer today; that each intentional act of mercy extended towards others, will bring them one step closer to understanding the love of Christ. 

May the Truth of God’s Word break through a life-time of captivity and offer liberation to free hearts that are bound in sin and deception.

May we risk, entering a place where suffering dwells; giving of ourselves for the long-haul. Not a momentary fix; but an offering up, a pouring out of ourselves to enter a place of deep grieving. A place where we leave self behind and live fully-present as we think of the needs of others.

The question is…

How will we make the effort to offer up our unique selves to be the hands and feet of Jesus today?

Prayer Response:

God, right now I have a lot of my own needs to work through; but I long to touch others with the love of Christ. Help me to see beyond the place where I am at and to lift my eyes to the hurts, problems and pain of others. Show me what I can do to make a difference in someone else’s life today.

I know, that it is in giving to others that I will receive a fresh joy to walk my own personal journey. Open my eyes to see the needs of others around me. Give me the courage to risk and step towards them with compassion and love. May I minister to them in a way that encourages them by becoming the hands and feet of Christ today. Amen

(Philippians 4:19; Hebrews 3:13; 1 Peter 5:7; 11 Corinthians 12:9)

LINDA JANE DINGELDEIN: DIFFERENT BY DESIGN
LINDA JANE PHOTOGRAPHY

 

Linda Jane Dingeldein acknowledges the beauty of God’s creation in the crisp splendor of autumn foliage.