Once I cared for a young man who had survived an overdose attempt. He was young enough to be my son, and as I looked at his handsome face and deep, kind eyes, I did feel an almost motherly affection for him. In fact, after we had gotten comfortable with one another I jokingly addressed him as “son,” and he in turn called me “mom.” It was a good day, that day, and my time with him reminded me of something we can all forget.
We’re all broken. In one way or another.
He had just so happened to hit his rock bottom place. Do you remember yours? Maybe you haven’t hit it yet.
I can recall mine. I was around the same age as him. College. That time where you’re supposed to be grown, and it seems like everyone expects you to have it all figured out. It’s funny to me, an age where an individual has the ability to lay their life on the line for their country, is also an age where so much uncertainty can be. But I’ve found that it’s in those lonely, indeterminate times that God meets us. When our hands are thrown in the air, when we cannot find the answers, at the end of our rope; there He is.
This young man reminded me so much of myself. Sensitive, tearful, soft-spoken, kind. The tears in his eyes felt like my own, and if I could have placed my understanding of life at forty-two into his own fragile state of mind, I probably would have, but I also know that we must all get to that place in our own time. It took me a long time to get there. I still pray now that it won’t take him near as long.
During one of our many, heartfelt conversations he shared his broken spirit, in shaking, emotional words.
He cried, “I’m defective!”
And my heart broke for him. Empathetic, I felt his pain. I had known it myself. I wanted to run to his rescue, to console my son, to encourage him, to tell him how lovely he was.
I wanted to say, “no you’re not!” But something held me back.
How many times had others tried to make me see myself like Jesus saw me? Precious, loved, made new? Until I was ready to see myself like God intended, it was just words. And although it was all true, I was beautiful and made perfect, it wasn’t until I accepted my brokenness that I could allow Jesus to fix me.
So instead I answered him, “yes, you are defective! So am I! So is everyone. It’s called being human. And it’s ok.”
If God had a clubhouse with a sign above the door I am very certain what it wouldn’t say. It wouldn’t read,
No Sinners Allowed
It wouldn’t proclaim,
No Brokenness Can Enter Here
The Lord certainly isn’t the little boy on the school bus in Forest Gump saying, “you can’t sit here!”
No, I like to think that Jesus is more like Jenny, patting the empty seat beside her, a smile even though we’re a little weird, a little different, a little defective.
No, I think if God had a clubhouse, the uneven, wooden slab above the door would read in faded, red paint,
No Perfect People Allowed
It’s only once we’ve accepted His invitation inside that we are made perfect through Him. And even that is a journey.
We’re all broken, you see, in one way or another. Many of us experienced a horrible childhood, some worse than others. Some can move on from the ashes, and others not so much. I do know this; we all need a hand out of our mess. We’re all defective, like my young patient felt, and it’s in that mangled mess that God can save us. It’s in our weakness that His strength emerges, and it’s in our hopeless, helpless, unrecoverable life that He can make all things new.
You know what you can’t see when you’re at the bottom? The top. You know what you can’t see in the midst of misery? The way out. It’s ok. It’s ok because He is the light at the end of the tunnel. He is the hand that pulls us out of our mess.
God doesn’t expect our perfection to come to Him. He just wants our love. He takes care of all the rest. So, while the bad news is that yes, we’re all defective, the good news is that He in turn is our perfector.