Thursday, June 6, 2013

Episode Four: How do you wear your brokenness?

Recently, during a shared meal with friends and colleagues, we began discussing the link that's been found between Facebook and depression.  You can read a bit about it here. While the research has since been disputed and is currently up for debate, the main premise makes sense to me.  When we look at Facebook, we see the "highlights" of people's lives--the gatherings of friends, the happy moments, the good times filled with joy and laughter.  But what if you're not in a joyful, exuberant state when you log in? What if you've had a crappy day?  Some researchers are suggesting that looking at everyone else's "highlights" during a "low" time in your own life may lead to discouragement and perhaps depression.

I'm as guilty as the next person when it comes to selectively sharing more "highs" than "lows" via Facebook.  In fact, the day after we had this conversation and I vowed to be more transparent with my posts, I posted the following status update without thinking: 

Listening to the new Patty Griffin album (thanks to Jason Gerig), putting up mint leaves picked from our herb garden, and planning what to do with all the beautiful swiss chard I picked today for supper....I'm in a sweet spot y'all. Life is good.

Now, it was true, life really was good. Patty Griffin rocks my world and our fresh mint and swiss chard was quite lovely.  But just a few minutes after I posted this, the conversation from the day before came back to me and for at least ten minutes I debated whether I should add a disclaimer to my post, something along the lines of "life is good right now but I have plenty of areas of brokenness--I worry about nothing and everything all at the same time; I think too much; I have a huge pimple on my chin and my right ankle kind of hurts from my jog earlier today."  Ultimately, I didn't add the addendum but I wondered if I should.  Would it have somehow been more honest?  

So now I find myself with a question: how do we wear our brokenness?  

I know brokenness is a dangerous word theologically and I'm not using it to refer to any type of inherent wrong within us, I don't think we are inherently flawed. We are not inherently broken. No,  I'm using the term to refer to the "stuff" of life--the heart breaks and the failures, the awkward conversations, fights between spouses, mistakes at work, and the list could go on forever.  How do we wear this? How do we share it? How do we have real conversations that involve both our highs and our lows, our places of great joy and our spaces of real sadness?

In another conversation with a new friend just a few days ago, I was asked how open I was in friendships--how much did I share?  Did I allow folks to see the hard, rough spots as well as the beautiful, joyful patches or did I "protect" my "lows" and hide them as somehow secret?  Essentially, he was asking me, how do you wear your brokenness? I wasn't able to answer the question well in the moment but I know how I would like to answer it someday.  Someday, I'd like to be able to say, I wear my brokenness proudly, boldly and courageously.  I share the highs and the lows with those I love.  I am my whole self--good day self and crappy day self, best self and worst self--all the time.  

I'm not there yet but I think it's an important thing to strive for if we want to be in authentic, meaningful relationship with those around us. 

And so, my dear friends, I pose the same question to you that I was lucky enough to be asked a few days ago: how do you wear your brokenness? 


  1. This is really lovely, Jamie. I have a feeling I'll be coming back to it...thinking on it....

    1. Thanks so much Julie! Hope you're well my friend.

  2. Its a fascinating question, and one I wrestle with too. One thing I run against preaching is that my brokenness often rubs up on other people's brokenness, (say, Rachel's) and it is important to respect her desires not to have our conflicts aired publicly.
    Also, there are different kinds of brokenness that are 'appropriate' to share-I notice 'sad, because x tragedy happened' is easy to share. Depression, not so much.

    1. This notion that our brokenness rubs up against the brokenness of others feels important--the idea that how we choose to wear our own places of hurt might directly impact how others wear theirs. Perhaps one of the countless ways entering into deep relationship with someone binds lives together in ways you'd never even think to consider or imagine...thanks for this Samuel.