as thanksgiving approaches i am closing the door on a flurry of thanksgiving themed youth groups and sunday schools. i have taught our students everything they need to know about how every good and perfect gift comes to us from god, and how we are to be thankful for all our blessings, big or small. with my due diligence behind me, i can now reflect on what i am thankful for. but this is turning out to be more difficult then i expected, because of the main event itself, the actual thanksgiving family dinner.
my family’s thanksgiving dinner is revealing to me an entirely unexplored area in my spiritual development when it comes to being thankful. this is being thankful for my brokenness. coming from a broken home, thanksgiving brings an incredible amount of stress and anxiety. there are sophisticated negotiations just to keep the many families appeased. then, once we are together there is the awkwardness of us young adults regressing to the childhood roles we played decades earlier as we struggle with new ways to relate. the fancy facades we have been perfecting throughout the year, gets stripped down to reveal the broken and wounded kid underneath. (and we haven’t even sat down at the table yet)
my family is just one area of brokenness in my life, and one that happens to get drudged up every thanksgiving. but i have plenty of brokenness to go around. some of this brokenness comes form people in my past who have wronged me. much of it comes from the poor choices i have made and still make. and the result of all of this is a weak and wounded mess. and it is in this place where the gospel comes alive!
the ministry of jesus christ is the ministry of reconciliation and healing. these are the two things i always need more of in my life. i need the power of jesus to forgive those who have wronged me and to accept the forgiveness of jesus for the many ways i have wronged others, including him. and in the process of reconciliation there is healing. jesus takes our wounds, our brokenness, our sin, and exchanges them with his wholeness and righteousness.
the truth is that all of us are broken. the more we are aware of it, the more we can allow space for jesus to get in there and heal us. and the more we are healed the more we become whole. and it is in our brokenness and weakness when jesus’ power is made complete. it is in this place where we are the most human and can connect with other humans on the deepest of levels. this seems to be the most true of the students i work with.
brokenness is the easiest character trait for students to identify with. their entire lives are in chaos. some of it has been done to them, and some of it they are doing to themselves. my brokenness gets to be a point of connection with them. with all the differences between us, it is the main thing we have in common. and because of this common brokenness, we can share in the common healing christ offers as well.
this thanksgiving, i recognize it is my brokenness that has created depth and character. it is my brokenness that has shaped my faith and revealed my need for jesus. it is my brokenness that allows me to connect with students in an authentic way. and it is my brokenness that god has used and is using to transform me into his masterpiece created for good works, which god prepared in advance for me to do. and for that, i am truly thankful.