Every person is both broken and intact. We have all perhaps noticed that sometimes the more broken a person is, the more intact they claim to be. This may be a sophisticated defence mechanism used to conceal their awareness that not everything is someone else’s fault. Who can deal with their own darker side or their wounded innocence?
The answer is we all can... and must. This is our life’s work and it can be done. How do we know it can be done? Because often the most broken people among us are the ones who contribute the most, or the most effectively. None of our givers or leaders are perfect. A current past-time in today’s culture of micro-scrutiny and evaluation is to negatively scrutinize our "enemies" and pedestal our "friends". People are always rating and voting, as though their voice on these matters carries astonishing importance. There is the nub. We are doing two things. We are inflating to an absurd degree and also ignoring the fact that we are all, at times, underdressed emperors. (Nobody wants to be naked. I know that. So I left it at underdressed.)
Above I stated that it is often broken people who pull it together enough to contribute the most. How does this happen? Is this person truly most wounded or more wounded? Or is it that the people who are capable of effective service and even leadership are those who have engaged with their brokenness and accepted that hopefully anything they offer will be flawed, but helpful? I think it is the latter. A holy, older priest once told me, wearily, “I don’t want to spend time with anyone who has not been broken.” It took me a few years to understand what he meant. He meant that he did not want to waste time having conversations that were not genuine. He did not want to engage in religious talk that lacked substance, heart, and authenticity.
When I say broken, just to be clear, I do not mean traumatically impacted. Hopefully, at least some of us escape that reality. Maybe not. Reading a newspaper would traumatize even the hardiest among us. Plus, we might all be surprised at what qualifies as trauma. Maybe nobody escapes it. The Backpack programs attempt to connect us all to our true self, where we hurt, where we numb, and where and how we transcend. The goal of Backpack Productions is to, among other things, preserve the thinking faculty so that people can retain or reacquire their ability to connect directly to God, in an honest way. Because maybe God would rather we acknowledge our brokenness and where we misbehave in relationships. Maybe, like the holy older priest, God would like us to talk straight to him and not try to be something we are not, pious people from another century.
Christ came to expose bad religion and show us how truly loved we are by God. Jesus died for us willingly, not grudgingly. Jesus died for us willingly not because we are so bad, so truly guilty, or because we need extensive prescriptions to best understand our badness. He died willingly for us so we could always reenter our innocence. He wept tears of blood because he dreaded the cross but he also could not bear that we could be unsure about our potential for goodness. Our fallen natures ensured that when we experienced hurt we could be vulnerable and lured into negative responses, mistakes, sins, if they were deliberate and damaging to self or others. No. Jesus did not willingly die for us because he could not stand our guilt. He died willingly for us because the extent of our innocence broke his heart. He, thus, understood and absorbed our guilt so that we could always re-connect to our innocence in a true way.
To go back to the beginning, those who serve effectively and honestly, serve from the intact part of themselves. The intact part of ourselves is the true self we all know is in there. It is the part that we all sense is innocent and good; the child, the true identity, the person who wants to be happy and wants to make others happy, too. The intact part of ourself, quite correctly, craves love. This eternal identity remains present in every person, with huge potential for good, regardless of any dreadful mistakes from their past.
We are all wounded. We are all broken. Some people are simply further along in the transcendence of that reality.