I will never forget one time when I was sitting in my mentor’s living room explaining how mad I was that a boy hurt me. I didn’t care to reconcile with him because he treated me carelessly. She looked at me in loving boldness and said, “Chelsea, are you saying you don’t want to talk to this boy about how he disappointed you, or that you don’t want to talk to God about how he disappointed you?” Her words convicted my heart. I searched my heart and learned that my intention was not to run away from the boy, but to run away from my Father. My heart has experienced pain because of boys, friendships, and even family. Because our world is broken, we must constantly pursue restoration, but it’s hard to trust our Father with our pain and suffering. Plus from a very young age, we are trained to be strong, courageous, and protect ourselves from hurt. It’s a charming philosophy to preemptively guard our hearts from experiencing pain. This breaks down because protecting ourselves from hurt directly prevents God’s plan for restoration. We often believe the lie that being strong means we must condemn weakness, forsake pain, and ignore brokenness. This philosophy runs counter to the gospel and ignores the character of God.
Our culture preaches this distorted theory of brokenness and our hearts are hardened to what could be—that is, God’s holy intention for his children to be collectively known, saved, and redeemed with his all-encompassing affection for us. David writes,
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men. – Psalm 107:19-21
David clearly portrays an image of Christ as one who saves, heals, rescues, and loves. He reminds us of who we are and who God is. This passage is beautiful because it is a story of gospel power in community. Our humble acknowledgment of despair beckons surrender. It is only in this broken surrender that we experience Jesus.
Jesus hung vulnerable and exposed for the entire world to ridicule, yet silently he bore into deeper strength, devotion, and courage than any human being could grasp. This glorious mystery has been eternally inscribed on our hearts. The Holy Spirit retells this story in our lives. Will we risk humiliation, pain, and brokenness to search the mystery of God’s redemption in community?
Our hearts can’t be reconciled if we aren’t known.
We shield the place in our heart that holds our hurt, fear, and anger fiercely. When we expose these places, we may feel overwhelmed because the emotions there may be uncontrollable, unknown, and painful.
Our response is most often negligence, which (unknowingly) leaves us alone in despair. The gospel response would be inviting God into those places and praying, “Search me, God, and know my heart” (Ps. 139:23). This cry unifies our heart with the Holy Spirit then ushers us into community with fellow believers, which is God’s tangible gift of comfort and grace.
Our hearts can’t be reconciled if we aren’t cleansed by His blood.
To refuse pain is more than rejecting healing; it is ultimately rejecting the need for the cross. In the presence of Christ, our hearts are vulnerable to hope for reconciliation. Our hope is beautiful because it calls out for the cross. Dependence on God is so much deeper than admission of weakness; rather it’s an acknowledgement of worship. Our response to Jesus is a humble acknowledgement of how worthy his sacrifice was.
The Lord is rich in mercy, he is steadfast, and he delights to redeem. These are characteristics of his nature, which lead our eyes to Jesus, who was the incarnated hope of God’s children. The absence of need for help suggests an absence of worth for Christ (Gal. 2:21). When we choose to ignore this need, we choose to ignore his worth. This could likely be the most disparaging lie that Western culture believes.
However, we have reason to hope in the body of Christ. Community will flesh out honesty, brokenness, and even healing. Community is more than company to minimize loneliness; community is the coming together of Christ’s body. This means we must be unafraid to be known and dependent. Our mission is to walk, together as a body, towards the cross so that the world may see and declare that he is God.
Intimacy requires risk. It demands exposure to the weak and vulnerable places of our heart. I dread the continuous act of exposing my brokenness beckoning my need for counsel and prayer. I must choose trust, even when my flesh wants to hide in shame. Healing is the most humbling reminder of God’s gracious gift in dependence, both on him and among his body. I am forced to face my need for support, encouragement, and accountability. I am forced to trust God that he has provided me with a community that may disappoint me but will not abandon me. I have never felt closer to God then when I finally allowed him to touch my heart with his healing hand of grace. And the friend and mentor who challenged my source of disappointment has continued to trudge through the trenches and rejoice on the mountains. True community fights to resemble God’s image in dependence, faithfulness, and hope.
Chelsea Vaughn has served a ministry she helped start in the DFW Metroplex since she graduated from college. She received her undergraduate degree at Dallas Baptist University in Communication Theory. She does freelance writing, editing, and speaking for various organizations and non-profits. She hopes to spend her life using her gift for communication to reach culture and communities with the love of Jesus.