Broken U: a book reflection

By Rev. Dr. Bruce R. Nelson Apr 18, 2017

Tears came to my eyes as I thought of the brokenness of the many I visit with as a chaplain — as well as my own. The following are hard, yet strangely compelling words, thoughts, realities and invitations from Ann Voskamp in her book, “The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life.” These words just may bring rays of hope into your, my, our individual brokenness.

“There is the truth: Blessed — lucky — are those who cry. Blessed are those who are sad, who mourn, who feel the loss of what they love — because they will be held by the One who loves them. There is a strange and aching happiness only the hurting know — for they shall be held. And, by God, we’re the hurting beggars begging: Be close to the brokenhearted. Save the crushed in spirit. Somehow make suffering turn this evil against itself, so that a greater life rises from the dark. God, somehow.

“Is there a grace that can bury the fear that your faith isn’t big enough and your faults are too many? A grace that washes your dirty wounds and wounds the devil’s lies? A grace that embraces you before you prove anything — and after you’ve done everything wrong? A grace that holds you when everything is breaking down and falling apart — and whispers that everything is somehow breaking free and falling together.

“What if the busted and broken hearts could feel there’s a grace that holds us and calls us Beloved and says we belong and no brokenness ever has the power to break us away from being safe? What if we experienced the miracle of grace that can touch all our wounds?

“The same hand that unwraps the firmaments of winging stars wraps liniments around the wounded heart; the One whose breath births galaxies into being births healing into the heart of the broken.

“Maybe — I don’t know how, but somehow — maybe our hearts are made to be broken. Broken open. Broken free. Maybe the deepest wounds birth deepest wisdom. We are made in the image of God. And wasn’t God’s heart made to be broken too? Wounds can be openings to the beauty in us. And our weaknesses can be a container for God’s glory.”

I became interested in the writer Ann Voskamp as I first read about her in the magazine Christianity Today. I wanted to hear from this intensely shy writer who is adamant she will die in the same place where she was born — the farm in Canada where she lives with her husband and children. It’s the farm where her little sister tragically died and where her mother was often absent when she went to the psych wards after the accident. It’s the farm where teenage Ann often cut herself, struggled with being bullied in school and suicidal thoughts. These days, Ann writes, blogs, speaks, travels and has the kind of outreach and influence that helped her raise a million dollars for refugees in a matter of days. Most importantly, she lives and ministers as wife and mother on the farm.

I knew a bit about Ann’s earlier book, “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.” I read that one too after first reading “The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life.” I’ve been telling many people about Ann’s writing, and I appreciate this opportunity to tell you too. Like me, you may want to get her books and read more about gratitude and brokenness, or you may just want to read the quotes above again. I’ll leave you with one more quote from “The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life,” an invitation to find fulfillment in sharing with others out of your own brokenness.

“This is what I know right then: the world is brokenhearted and full of suffering, and if you listen to what life needs instead of what you need from it, you could fill the brokenness with your own brokenhearted love — and this will in turn fill you. What if you were not afraid?”