February 11, 2020

Grace in Brokenness

Forward Movement

If you are going through a season of brokenness, seeking healing and wholeness, keep moving forward. Forward doesn’t always look the way you think it should. Sometimes you take a step forward and retreat two steps because the world looks unsafe and risky. This is okay, it’s still forward movement.

Stay in your two-steps-back state until you are comfortable with the step forward and try again. Take it gently and slowly, setting a pace that is comfortable for you. But do not stop. You don’t want to be stuck in the brokenness; you don’t want to be in a holding pattern of pain and woundedness. When you are ready to try a forward step, try again. This time, stay a little longer, embracing the fear and the risk until you can breathe through it and put it to rest. If the need to retreat persists, go back to where you feel safe, breathe, and process through the situation. When ready, try again. Keep working it out – this is movement and, as much as bystanders may think you are stuck, you are making progress.

Everything new, everything outside the comfort zone, feels like a risk to your brokenness, feeling like it will rip open your healing heart and add to the damage. Whether it is a new relationship with the same or the opposite sex, the fear of risk calls out. This is normal. Give yourself grace and time to work through this fear.

The Shelter of His Wings

In my season of brokenness and healing, I leaned into God for breath, for sustenance, for clarity, for peace. He was (and is) my constant companion, and I found Him to be a safe and dependable hiding place. When my season of brokenness was ending, I had relocated to Texas, yet had not taken the risk of making new acquaintances. After residing in Texas for a year, and after publishing my first book, “The Making of a Dragonfly”, the Lord prompted me to step outside my safety zone to meet people and develop new relationships.

Obediently, but with great hesitation, I contacted a vendor I worked with through Dragonfly Ministries. Though I had not met her personally, I was familiar with her Christian involvement in the community and sensed she could help me get plugged in. And she did.

Stepping into New Relationships

But stepping into new relationships proved to be difficult. With anxiety and fear, I would attend a gathering,  stay for 15 minutes and then quietly gather my things and leave. No word to anyone, I just disappeared. I lost count of the number of times I canceled commitments out of fear someone would ask me questions. I learned to give myself grace when this happened. After a while, I mustered the courage and peace of mind to stay for 30 minutes before disappearing. Being comfortable and at peace in a group of new acquaintances was a process. Over a one-year period, I developed the chutzpah to stay for the entire program, and to hang around afterward and mingle with attendees.

Even when I started attending church in my new town, I arrived late so I would not be required to speak to anyone (being late made me feel invisible). And I would leave before the service was over (invisibility cloak). Being seen and approached by anyone was a risk. Especially anyone from the male gender.

The Dreaded Question

One of the most dreaded questions was, “Are you dating anyone?” My answer was blunt and spoken with conviction, “I have no interest in that.” When men approached and expressed interest, my response was the same, spoken bluntly and with conviction, “I have no interest in that.”
I had no interest in opening my heart to the risk of being hurt. I was determined I would not step into a romantic relationship until I had healed. This is healthy and normal. Guard your heart. For a season. Don’t harden your heart, but guard it. Allow time and space to heal. Learn who you are apart from a mate, a significant other. Find your footing, your grounding, in your relationship with Christ.

When you are lonely, sit with Him in the quietness, and allow His love to wash over you. Give yourself grace. Grieve through the loneliness. You don’t need a person to fill this void; you need the Spirit of the Lord to minister to you.

Grace in the Season of Brokenness

If you are in this season of brokenness, give grace to yourself. Don’t put undue pressure on your broken heart to be “who you were” before the heartbreak. Rather, allow time to heal, time to breathe, time to step back into the world bit by bit. And retreat when you need to refuel, process, heal, take in what happened when you ‘stepped out’, and build your courage. This is normal and is nothing to be ashamed of. If you disappear for a month or two or three or four to hide under the shelter of God’s wing and regroup, that is between you and your Father. Don’t let anyone speak judgementally or negatively to you about hiding for too long, taking too long to heal, or ‘moving on with your life’. Ahem, this is YOUR life.

This is a season of grieving, healing, growing, and working through emotions and relationships. It is a season of rebuilding your life in a way that the foundation is sure, is on Christ, and will never crumble as it did. Why? Because your healed foundation, significance, and security are built in who God is and who God says you are rather than your own understanding or the expectations of others. And remember, this is your journey, your opportunity to embrace God’s love and healing power. So move in your pace and don’t feel obligated to explain your pace or process to anyone.

You’re Still In There

Your true personality will return, you will rise above the fear, your emotions will heal, and your character will be made stronger. You have not been lost to grief. Rather, your spirit and soul are pulling inward to find a safe place for processing and healing. Give grace to yourself. You deserve this time to seek and receive the healing only God can bring. Don’t pressure yourself. You set the pace for your healing, not anyone else. Most people want you to ‘get back to yourself’ for selfish reasons. Push them away for a season and focus on your healing. This is important for your way forward.

Joy Comes in the Morning

Psalm 30:5 says, “Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” My healing process was a long season of weeping nights. Everything felt like a risk. I didn’t want to open my heart to share my pain. That sadness was between me, God, and very few individuals.

It took two years after divorce before I was willing to meet new people and two more years before I was interested in stepping into larger gatherings. After that four-year period, I had the courage to begin interacting with Christian women in a Bible study setting. It was in this setting I gained the courage to consider initiating new friendships.

We each process pain and grief in ways unique to our history, character, and personality. Some bounce back quickly, others – like me – take a longer season to find complete wholeness and healing. Keep moving forward, at a pace that is comfortable. Lean into God for wisdom and understanding. Remember, your wholeness is working itself out.

God’s Love

Pull in God’s love, a love like no other. His love is all-consuming, all gracious. He will heal and teach you about true and pure love, as described in 1 Corinthians 13:1-7.  One morning you will awaken, and the day will seem brighter, your soul will be lighter, a song will touch your lips, and you will laugh and be filled with joy. You will have drawn closer to God and be ready to step into a relationship with that person God brings into your path. You will see things in a fresh and new way, you will have a greater appreciation and understanding for those around you, and you will open your heart and love like never before. Your emotions will be healed, strengthened, and matured.

In these hard days, your season of brokenness, keep your focus on Jesus and keep looking up. I am living proof – Joy truly comes in the morning.

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Mary Ethel Eckard is an author, speaker and teacher called to encourage Christians in their faith journey. She is passionate about sharing Christ with all who will listen. Through her captivating testimony of relying on God's strength and guidance through the heights and depths of life, Mary helps others find freedom from the shame and pain of their past. Mary resides in Frisco, Texas and enjoys spending time with family and friends.

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