Hey, my name is Deanna and I live and teach in Dongguan, China. This year will complete my 10th year here, and I’m still not used to the smells. No, I really do love it here and all of the unique opportunities that God graciously provides. My passions in life revolve around children, music, and photography. I’ll also admit that I may have a small obsession with coffee.
I grew up in a wonderful, spiritual home. My Dad is a pastor, faithful to one church for the past 35 years. My mom has also faithfully served God through serving my dad, her children, and church family. With every day that passes, I realize more and more what amazing parents I have and how much they sacrificed (and still do) to pour the love of God into my life.
I met Angela in 2011 and we reunited in China a couple of years ago. She has become a dear friend and I’m so thankful to be a part of this beautiful blog.
My inclination is to teach a neat little lesson on the meaning of “whole” with three bullet points and supporting passages rather than give personal testimony to God’s work in my life. However, it is now with trembling hands that I beg God to take these words and use them how He sees fit. As we take a few minutes out of our jam-packed lives, I invite you to grab your coffee (because what else is there?) and commune with me as we reflect on the goodness of God in making us whole.
I can’t think about “wholeness” without thinking of brokenness. This very well may be because I’m a teacher and one of the quickest ways to establish understanding and make connections is to give the opposite meaning. Two events in my life have brought significant seasons of brokenness; one of which was April of 2014. I found myself at the Dr.’s office, crying uncontrollably and watching him scribble a list on the tissue paper that covered the examination table. He was asking me a series of questions. I nodded in agreement as my head hung low. “Eight out of the nine symptoms of clinical depression,” he said carefully. He didn’t know that I had been too ashamed to admit the 9th and final symptom, suicidal thoughts. “You’re not alone,” he said. He followed up by saying that exercise won in every case study over medication. He followed that up with a prescription. He told me of a counselor that he knew who had helped many people. I left his office with a glimmer of hope, hope that I would know what it felt like to be whole again.
As Angela wrote a couple of weeks ago, brokenness is what we hide. It’s what we are afraid of, ashamed of and embarrassed about. I’m pretty sure we can trace this all of the way back to the first Adam (Genesis 3:7), except all he could find to hide behind were fig leaves. I grew up as a pastor’s kid and believe me, we hid our brokenness most Sunday mornings. My mom would be the first to testify that trying to get everyone ready and to church on time and with a good heart attitude was nearly impossible. Yet, for some reason, we all felt compelled to put on our church face – aka hide the brokenness – and greet everyone with plastic smiles. Some of you can relate to the Sunday-morning-cover up, but all of us can relate in some capacity to hiding behind our hurts.
I remember being afraid to tell anyone that I had been diagnosed with depression. I wanted them to think I was strong; strong physically, emotionally, mentally, and especially spiritually. I didn’t want anyone to see my brokenness. The truth is we’re all broken, with scars to prove it. (Isaiah 64:6)
Here’s more truth: we don’t like broken things, but God does. We avoid people with lots of brokenness. We look down on people with lots of scars. How is it that the very people Jesus Christ gave his broken body for (Isaiah 61:1-2, Luke 4:18) are the people that we shun? What blows my mind even more is that brokenness is what God desires from us. (Psalm 51) Sometimes things must be broken to bring glory. (Jeremiah 18:1-4) Think about Jacob when he wrestled with the Lord, and Mary with her alabaster jar of precious ointment.
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. 4 And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Jeremiah 18:1-4
I remember a time when I had saved a lot of money to buy a guitar that I wanted, a really nice guitar. I remember buying it, bringing it back to China to use in different ministries. I remember walking up to Bible study one night shortly after it had rained. I had the guitar case strap around my shoulder, took one step inside and slipped on the tile floor. I fell straight down, my guitar catching most of the impact. I heard the sound of what I knew would be a crack in my brand new beautiful guitar. I walked upstairs, opened the case and saw the crack. I was so angry. All of this time and effort and money I had wasted for this now scarred guitar. I walked home from the study with thoughts of throwing the guitar away. I remember thinking to myself, “Why would I want a broken guitar?” God, in His sweet small voice said, “I still want you, even in your brokenness.”
Have you heard of an art form called, Kintsugi? It is a Japanese method used to restore broken pottery by putting the pieces back together and filling the cracks with a precious metal (gold, silver). What was once broken and even unusable, is now something even more beautiful.
Tears streamed down my face that day as His words took root in my heart…He loves me in my brokenness. Today, I proclaim to you that the cracks in our lives – the scars – serve as a testimony of His beautiful grace. He is working, reshaping, and molding us into the image of His Son. From the moment He whispered that truth to me, I no longer looked at my guitar with anger or disgust or regret. To this day, I use it as a tool to boast about the goodness of God that restores and heals and makes whole our wandering hearts.
In conclusion, I’d like to leave you with two statements: (at least it wasn’t three bullet points)
The complete work of Christ demands our complete surrender. Jesus Christ, wholly broken for you and me, still bears the scars that tell of the beautiful gospel – a complete work that freed us from the bondage of shame and the need to hide. (Leviticus 26:13) If in our finite minds we could just grasp the unrelenting, unconditional love of our God, we would have no other option but to worship Him with our whole being. (Deuteronomy 6:5)
The continual work of the Holy Spirit empowers us for total victory. I love passages like I Thessalonians 5:23-24 and II Peter 1:3-4 that reassures of victorious life. Here’s good news – He who called you is faithful and will bring it to pass. My season of depression eventually passed. God revealed to me during that difficult time that He is everything my soul longs for, and the Holy Spirit continues to empower me to live in that truth.
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. I Thessalonians 5:23-24
Dear daughter of the King, give your broken pieces to Jesus. Embrace the work that is already complete. Let him fill the cracks with His love, joy and peace, and worship with your whole heart the One who has made you whole in Him.