Broken or Whole? What say you?

Broken or Whole? What say you? July 31, 2013

Elizabeth, responding to a pastor’s recent tweet, says we teach our children they are whole. What say you?

Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection…As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, “Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody.” … [My dark side says,] I am no good… I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned.”  –Henri J.M. Nouwen

I have written this post at least five times.

Right now, my fingers are shaking.

I have erased and re-written this sentence RIGHT HERE three times.

I realize this probably sounds dramatic. Forgive me, I’m simply attempting to demonstrate how frightened I get about the kind of theology that was summed up in a pastor’s recent tweet: “Teach your children they are broken. Deeply broken.”

I was raised this way.

I was taught this way….

To summarize, being raised with a “You are deeply broken” theological framework seriously screwed me over.

This is no way to raise children. I mean, unless you’d like them to wrack up thousands of hours in therapy. Not that I know ANYTHING about that.

I have to work my recovery every single day because I’m STILL afraid God hates me.

But there is hope. I can see it in my children. I’m teaching them to live a different way.

When I teach my children the Gospel, I don’t start with: “You are bad, therefore you need Jesus.” I start with: “Before you were born, God loved you.” I start with God’s love and I end with God’s love. 

I teach my children they are whole, deeply whole. I teach them they were beautifully created in the image of God. I teach them they are unconditionally loved and cherished—no matter what they do or don’t do. I teach them to be lighthearted, easeful, resting in full assurance that they are loved. I teach them that and nothing and nobody can separate them from the love of Christ.

This kind of theology affects me on a visceral, bodily level.

Which is to say, even though I left an abusive church ten years ago, I’m still cleaning up the wreckage of the destructive belief that says I’m deeply, inherently broken.

Hear me on this: I still struggle every day to believe God loves me. 

This is because when you teach a child they are unworthy and somehow intrinsically broken/flawed/less-than, you set them up for disaster–not just in their relationship to God but in their relationships with people. 

Indeed, my biggest obstacle in healing from a harmful theological framework has been an inability to receive love. For YEARS after leaving an oppressive church, I could not receive the love of God—and many times, the love of people—because I kept blocking it with the whole “I’m a wretch! I’m a worm! I don’t deserve love!” mentality.

"'This renewal began first with the renewal of the people of God (chapter 5 or ..."

Putting the Bible Together
"In Christ, there is no Jew or Greek, male or female."

Go Home or At Home?
"I just started to read about Scot Mcknight! His arguments are good.However, I recommend Scot ..."

Tim Keller under the Eye
"" if it be Your will" 1 John 4:14,15 says, 14And this is the confidence ..."

JesusCreed.org Blog Prayer

Browse Our Archives

Close Ad