I Have Become Like Broken Pottery

In a world of mega-church celebrity leaders, where status and strength are esteemed, there runs concurrently a steady stream of people walking away from the popular church culture. Rather than walking into an alternate realm of power and position, they walk into a desolate exile.

Many have found themselves on this journey not knowing if there is an ultimate purpose, often not even knowing if God is a part of this detour from the well-worn path of christendom.

We came from a world where we operated in our strengths. We were valued for what we had to offer – our gifts, talents, energy, vision – whatever we could contribute. Looking back on our participation, we gave it all and then some.

That is what the church needs, right? The movers and shakers, the visionary leaders, the mighty men and women of God who can accomplish His purposes, those with the anointing to build and plant.

When we operate in our strengths, we operate from a position of power. We are the ministers. We are the ones who give. Ministry is always focused downward. Sure I will let you pray for me, but it is not likely I will be vulnerable with you.

Perhaps the purpose of exile is to transform us into people who have been delivered of our own sufficiency to the point of realizing our weakness. Maybe we are being prepared to function in a way that ministry among the body is mutual so that we can also learn from and receive from the least among us.

In order to really be with the poor, the weak, and the marginalized, we must learn to walk alongside them, not distancing ourselves with the power of our strength. This doesn’t come easily or automatically for us. It may require an extended time of deprogramming from the values of the culture of empire.

After enough time in the desert, we come to the place where we are spent, we are needy. It may feel like we no longer have anything to offer. We are finally willing to receive from others rather than always being in the role of provider. Allowing ourselves to be known in our weakness is difficult and humbling.

Could it be that exile is necessary for our development in becoming incarnational?

“They are blessed who realize their spiritual poverty,
for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.”

Matthew 5:3

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20 thoughts on “I Have Become Like Broken Pottery

  1. It’s like you read my mind. I love this post, amen and amen. Matthew 5:3 is a promise I have reminded God of very often in this strange season, and holds great personal significance for me.

    “an extended time of deprogramming from the values of the culture of empire.”
    That’ll preach, Sister, that’ll preach!

  2. Exile. That makes sense. Yesterday I got a form letter from my former church (and employer) inviting me to join other “kingdom-minded folks” for some kind of drive or another. I didn’t read it too closely. I suppose that I’m a refugee now.

  3. I think it may be something like the apostle Paul went through. He was brought to the point where he realized that his only strength was what Jesus gave him. He went from the top to the bottom – then God used him.

  4. Grace, you’ve just described what I’ve been through for the past decade of my life (11 years, to be precise). I wouldn’t trade it for the world, though it’s been the most brutal time of my life. I’m finally coming back out into the light (from the back of the cave), a totally changed person. The light is a bit blinding to my eyes, but I know I’ll adjust to that!

  5. Dear Grace,
    Thank you, I am so glad I found you a year and a half ago when I was googling spiritual abuse. It has been so healing to sit, listen and realize that while I may have felt I was the only person in the world to feel like I did, I was not. God gave you all to me to show me hope, thank you. I have spent 5 long years in silence, just me and God, sitting at the epicenter of a disaster I had no control over, being a secondary trauma victim, then watching the people I thought would love and support me turn away because I could not be who they wanted me to be. I thought I had faith before, now I know He is present. I am still getting stronger, still healing, still getting to know this new girl I have become, but I would not trade anything for what I have learned. I agree with Tracy, it is so bright outside the pit. I feel like I am in Walmart and I want to buy just one thing, but it is so bright and there are so many choices, so many wonderful things I do not know where to start, which path to go down first. And I can finally say I am glad I am alive.

  6. I wonder if the Lord isn’t teaching me the lesson of powerlessness. I was always uncomfortable sitting on that pedestal. I didn’t know how to respond to people or let them into my world. As you said, I don’t think the position allows for vulnerability.

    Great thoughts grace, thanks.

  7. Exile … might be a welcome stage after Refugee or Edge-dweller — where you have been forced out (intentionally or not) or marginalized (intentionally or not). It is in the not knowing that we go crazy, isn’t it?

    But Exile … there is some strange peace in being released from the yearning of being so close and yet so far.

    … if I refuse to get up on the pedestal, I have a better chance at authenticity … put being counter-cultural is so difficult.

    Maybe being in, but not of, the World is embracing an Exile as part of the already/not yet reality of Kingdom culture … and understanding and embracing brokenness is essential if we are to submit ourselves to the Spirit for healing and service. Cracked pots, yes — but patched up and able to be used in God’s hands.

    Grace, I am so grateful to be on this journey with you.

  8. Here’s the promise:

    Neh 1:9-10 …. even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’ “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand.

    The condition is being faithful to Him – I think many people here are that :)

  9. You said “When we operate in our strengths, we operate from a position of power. We are the ministers. We are the ones who give. Ministry is always focused downward. Sure I will let you pray for me, but it is not likely I will be vulnerable with you.”
    When we train prayer ministers to do work in deliverance and inner healing, they are required to go through the process first themselves and to also regularly receive prayer and be totally open to the question “How are you doing?” in their own lives. This, I think, helps “level the playing field” and reduces the abuse of power.

  10. grace, thanks for this. AMEN! it is always so interesting how the beatitudes are so contrary to church organizations and the worldly ways that have been adopted. the infiltration of power and togetherness in church systems is overwhelmming. our brokenness is our greatest gift yet is still so undervalued. “authenticity” has become a cool word & is what so many want but the truth and reality of it being truly lived out in leadership is another thing…at the refuge, we are obviously deeply crazily committed to the theology of brokenness, but we are well aware it’s not the most popular idea when it’s really lived out. it is so clear to me that people want authenticity on one level but at the same time they are looking too for puttogetherness and powerful strength, otherwise why do they keep filling the auditoriums sunday after sunday? it is all very painful, in my opinion, the perpetuation of power instead of weakness & humility. i completely agree with you, incarnational ministry can only come from this kind of heart & life. otherwise it’s just one-up thing and the same ol’ same ol’ “we are strong and smart and know how to help you”. thanks for always putting words to things so well…

  11. !

    I wrote a post about being broken yesterday and scheduled it to appear two hours ago, then this morning this popped up in my Google reader!

    It’s so weird that I so often write posts and then come across something so related written by somebody in a completely different part of the world :-) I love bloggers.

  12. Heather! Amen, me too!
    Grace, as always, you nailed it.

    “Could it be that exile is necessary for our development in becoming incarnational?”
    I think….yes.

  13. Thoughtful. Good.

    You know, the older I get the more sure I become that few of us are trustworthy with our “strengths”. Perhaps I’m over-generalizing from my own weaknesses…

    Tom

  14. Sarah, Pete, Bill, Sonja, and 7catz,
    You are welcome. Glad you liked it.

    Ron,
    The blogging community got me through some pretty dark times. It helps to know you are not alone.

    Fred,
    Paul’s thoughts on weakness in Corinthians are some of my favorites.

    Tracy,
    Your description made me think of Lazarus. Perhaps there is an element of death and resurrection to the journey.

    kimberly,
    I’m glad that God has brought healing and redemption to your situation.

    jeff,
    I still struggle with allowing myself to be known in my weakness.

    peggy,
    I’m glad to be on this journey with you too. Wear your purple shades tomorrow.

    Jerry,
    Great verse. Ezekiel 34 is always encouraging to me too

    inheritor,
    We had a similar process. However even then, we were usually receiving from someone equal or above us, not from below. I hate to even use that terminology, but it was the reality of how things were. There were ministers and “ministees.”

    kathy,
    Great comments. Relating to one another in weakness and brokenness is definitely easier in theory than in practice.

    heather,
    I smiled when I saw your post. The post I have written for tomorrow is in the same vein.

    Interesting thought Tom.

  15. Loved the post Grace – the title alone spoke so much to me. I relate….

    Mike Frost has book out called Exiles – about living our lives out in The Empire – worth a read to see you’re not alone….

  16. I love how God has you come across things when you need them most. Im a pastor currently on a 6 week leave of absence wondering if I have anything left to give. Thanks for the thoughts and perspective!
    Kathy

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