BEAUTY IN THE BROKEN

On Nov. 16, 2013, Tyler Perry’s The Haves and The Have Nots cast geared up to promote the new season by executing a photo shoot.  The shoot’s photographer (Jeremy Cowart) recently shared his life-changing experience with one of the actors (John Schneider), which led to one of my infamous epiphanies.

I’ve always been a Schneider fan.  Now, I’m too young to remember the Bo Duke days (on Dukes of Hazzard), but I fell in love with this actor as he portrayed Jonathan Kent on Smallville (bring this show back, please!).  Just the personality contrasts between patriarchal Mr. Kent and his current role as the pigheaded Jim Cryer alone reveal his talent made for TV.

Yet, Cowart had a “rare connection” with Schneider, as his subject, which would stain the lenses of the photographer’s life indefinitely.

 John (happy) (crop)         John (sad)

Photo on the left captures impeccability:  Cowart insinuated that Schneider’s portraits were close to perfection.  His charisma captivated the camera’s gaze.  During the entire shoot, Schneider was smiling, joking, laughing, dancing and impersonating.

Photo on the right captures brokenness:   Shortly after the end of the shoot, Schneider asks Cowart to take more photos of him individually.  Then he suddenly breaks down into tears.  Schneider later revealed:  “My Dad died about an hour ago. I found out during our lunch break, and I wanted you to capture that for me.”

Could we ever capture our brokenness like Schneider did?  “To capture” in this sense means “to acknowledge”.  Many of us are broken in spirit:  endured breakups, divorces, familial disappointments, hurt from peers, and/or general rejection from others.  Yet, we either try to find ways to masquerade our broken hearts or try to heal them with false anecdotes.  We hop from guy to guy or from girl to girl to cover up the pain formed in previously failed relationships.  We resort to amity with people who only bring us down to fulfill the love that we did not receive from our mothers or fathers.  We turn to substances—like drugs, alcohol and other tangibles—that actually bring us no substance.  We might turn to illicit sex so that we can just feel wanted.  We also may respond to rejection by isolation to bury its impact.

However we handle our brokenness, the shattered pieces are more evident than we realize.  The Bible describes how a merry heart heals us while a broken spirit dries up our bones (Prov. 17:22).  Our brokenness does not affect our outward appearance; therefore, we can easily look as good as John on the left.  Ladies, your makeup and hair can be flawless…and guys, your debonairness can reach GQ levels…but your essence withers away, like John on the right.  Although hurt can be disguised, it cannot be alleviated unless acknowledged.  Schneider acknowledged his as such and did not allow it to take root underneath his surface.

 John (Dad)

After viewing the still shots of his breakdown, Schneider pointed to the last one (above) and said:  “That’s it.  That’s my Dad.”

Between depictions of gut-wrenching emotions, Schneider found himself reflecting his father.  I can’t fathom Schneider’s relationship with his father, but I can imagine this caption as the beginning of his restoration.  What a thought to know that he could see his father (whom he loved) emanating from himself!

Like Schneider, we are only reflections of our Father.  We will never bear that which He has not endured.  Beaten, stripped, whipped, scourged, stabbed, pummeled; our Savior is the epitome of brokenness.  Yet, here is where the BEAUTY of His brokenness lies:  He did not remain broken…so neither should we.

Capturing our hurt, like Schneider, is always ugly because we have to tell ourselves the truth and stop babysitting our pity.  I personally had a “come-to” moment recently, which carried me back to my childhood.  I endured endless persecution because of my weight, but lately realized that this experience was the origin of my introversion and general distrust of people.  Furthermore, I allowed this experience to act as my excuse (crutch is a more befitting word) to keep me victimized.

Most people will not admit this, but some of us like the attention of victimization.  We like to broadcast our hurt (another false anecdote) so we can gain certain reactions from others.  Yet, our perpetuity of pain constantly ensnares us.  When we nurse our hurt or disguise our pain, we discount THE cross.  His death occurred for our freedom.  His shame existed for our edification.  Jesus was broken so we no longer have to be.  He draws near to our broken-heartedness (Ps. 34:18) and heals our wounds (Ps. 147:3).  He revives our lowly spirits (Isa. 57:15) and brings good news to the afflicted (Isa. 61:1).  In our weakness, God strengthens us (2 Cor. 12:9).  We must remember to let go of our ashes before we can receive any beauty from them (Isa. 61:3).

CHALLENGE:  Everyone has experienced hurt, so everyone can complete this exercise.  Ask yourself:  Which traumatic experience(s) keep me broken and inhibit me from true freedom?

Now capture it:  Acknowledge the experience(s) to God and/or to someone else you dearly trust (James 5:16), and express your rooted hurt.  Like so…

(I apologize in advance for a few choice words, but it illustrates my point very well)

Now cast it:  Cast this situation that left you broken to God (I Peter 5:7) and allow His Word to mend your heart.

Now reflect Him:  Reflect God’s redemptive power in your life, and don’t allow past hurt to hinder you from your present health.  Reflect Him from the inside out!

P.S.

  • To access Jeremy Cowart’s full story about John Schneider, CLICK HERE!
  • Condolences go to the families of Jack Schneider and James Avery.  Please keep them and anyone else who has experienced a loss lifted up in prayer.

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GIMME

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Gimme some mo’!  Gimme whatcha got for a poakchop!  Gimme this!  Gimme dat!  Gimme mines (moment of silence for the ‘s’ in mines because it MUST die) and gimme yours!  Gimme ALL ya’ got!  In today’s society of sheer entitlement, most of us only care about “getting ours”…period.

Have you ever noticed even after we attain what we earnestly desire, we are still not satisfied?  Think of a toddler getting his/her favorite toy for Christmas, yet ditches it within minutes to play with his/her sibling’s gift.  Think of the techno-junkies who save their hard earnings to buy the latest gadget, yet realize the release of a newer version breaks tomorrow.  Think of enjoying your own dinner until your friend’s delectable meal hits the table directly beside you (The struggle in this case is ALWAYS real for me!).

The incapacity to satisfy ourselves consumes us.  If you’re single, you may wish you were married.  If you’re married you may wish you had a child (or to be single again! Lol!).  If you have a child, you may wish you had more knuckle heads (Yes, God made all of them)!  If you’re full-figured, you wish you were skinny (yup)!  If you’re thin, you wish you were thick (never understood that one)!   Tall to short….Dark to light…Poor to rich…Here to there!  Has your head exploded yet?

As you notice, self-absorption is an endless process, yet there’s a reason behind this phenomenon.  Simply put, we were not created to satisfy ourselves.  Since creation, God established standards by which to live.  As God’s creation, we will only find true happiness through these standards.  We fulfill God’s law if we look not at our own interests (Phil. 2:4) and if we bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2).

So how do you begin?  Here’s how…

As King over Israel, Solomon made one pivotal request to God:  “an understanding heart to judge [God’s] people” (I Kings 3:9, NKJV).  He didn’t ask for the dollar dollar bill y’all or for women who would dance for bands (I wonder if they were making rounds of applause back then?).  He didn’t allow the request for stardom or for future votes to cross his lips.  His requests were not for himself.  Solomon’s heart was for serving his people for justice’s sake.  In turn, God not only granted his request, but also bestowed him with riches and honor.  So here’s the lesson:   When you seek to satisfy the needs of others, God will take care of your needs (and then some of them “wants” too).

We can also apply Solomon’s request for wisdom to our current work ethics.  Yes, money is important, but our attitudes toward our jobs reflect our sole desire for the paycheck.  Adequate customer service is a diamond in the ruff now-a-days (yup, spelled ruff like that because that’s how rough it is!).  Furthermore, we can barely complete an extra task without explaining what is or is not within our ‘job prescriptions’ (for those who still don’t know how to say it right…say it with me… ‘job  de-scrip-tion’!  Good Class!).

Unlike our actions today, Solomon saw the value of his position because he was trusted by the Israelites and by God.  How many of us ask for wisdom to carry out jobs that God gave us because we are trusted by Him and others?  No matter how great or small our positions are within organizations, we still have roles to play.  Our “part” completes the “whole” of the operation.  So when we steal company hours while vigorously surfing the net or taking long lunches, next time we should think:  Could my “part” be the weak link of the company’s chain?  Could God trust me with something greater based on how I handle my “part” today?  Notice, Solomon was elevated and his wisdom exceeded all others (I Kings 4: 20-34) because he followed God’s heart to serve people.  If we learn to value our current positions and revere the trust of others through service, we will be elevated!

As shown, satisfying our own desires alone never brings true fulfilment; that’s God’s job (Isa. 58:11).  Furthermore, our selfish actions inevitably have detrimental effects on others.  So let’s tell “Gimme” to get!  We’ll no longer be needing his services!

CHALLENGE:  Today, I challenge you to help someone whom you don’t usually assist.  You can help someone you know or a complete stranger.  The goal here is to give something of yourself and NOT expect anything in return.  If you work, I challenge you to take on a task that’s outside of your job prescription.  If you can’t do that, ask your supervisor to give you an extra task (once you’ve completed your usual tasks, of course).  If you’re really “bad” (as bad as MJ), I challenge you to do this regularly!  Let’s stretch ourselves beyond ourselves so we can grow (Colossians 1:10-12).

Be HAPPY about your life…

…because change always comes eventually.

Sometimes we have to say goodbye to our old selves…

…so that we can be the light of the world!

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