I have learned the hard way that there is a big difference between being broken and being miserable. I have been miserable in my addictions and dysfunction a lot. Being miserable is being uncomfortable; it’s hating the circumstances; it’s being self-absorbed; it’s playing the victim; and it’s getting caught. Brokenness? That comes from a different place, and it’s the first step to finding the pathway to freedom because it’s brokenness that gets you to the place where you’re finally willing to admit that there is something broken in you—something that you can’t fix. There’s a deep realization when you figure out that your way is not the right way. That’s when you’re finally ready to cooperate and get well.
When you’re truly broken, the biggest realization becomes: you can’t help you anymore.
When I started to become familiar with the Bible, I really loved reading about Jesus and all of his encounters with people—people like me.
In John, chapter 5, Jesus’ heart is filled with compassion for a guy who he miraculously heals. The man was physically broken. He had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. It’s an amazing story of hope and new beginnings, but this story contains what I’ve come to know as one of the most important questions for life and recovery. Before Jesus even touched the man, Jesus asked him, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6 NIV).
When I first read that story, I thought that was a stupid question. But after years of my own stubborn refusal to change and working with all kinds of people who are living in denial, I’ve discovered that’s not a stupid question. It’s actually one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves. Sure, we are miserable, sick, know we have a problem, know things are out of control, but do we really want to get well?
I can’t remember the exact moment that I finally decided that I did want to get well. I think it was somewhere between my chapped-lipped-white-powder-on-my-shirt-cocaine-bender trip to Vegas and that three-block drive to tell my sponsor everything I had ever done. And somewhere in there, by the grace of God, I was able to drop the fear and finally humble myself to the loving touch of Jesus, and he started healing me. I also got into a community of fellow strugglers where I encountered honest, loving people and a loving God who met me right where I was. Still, I never would have made it to that place without finally admitting that, on my own, I am a broken, shattered mess.
If you will humbly embrace brokenness and allow God to go to work on the inside of you, if you will cooperate with him by working some steps, and if you will link arms with honest, fellow-strugglers, you will begin to get a handle on and actually overcome and break the chains of what binds you up and walk free.