The following post was written by Emily Baily. In 2011 she graduated from Grace University with a M.A. in Biblical Studies. She describes herself as, “an introspective explorer whose heart is softened every time I have the honor to love, care for and play with my nieces and nephews . . . I hope they never find out that I’m already a grown up.”
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I was recently driving across the back roads of Western Nebraska. It is a desolate, unforgiving and lonely land. The road stretches beyond the horizon, cut off by a sky that seems unreal, as if it was born from the imagination of some strange Artist. And as I drove, I looked at the dried out fields, the lonely, abandoned windmills and the broken down barns and thought, this…this is beauty.
Why am I so drawn to broken things? To things that have been used, destroyed and left to rot. Every abandoned home, dead tree, or even a discarded and forgotten toy fills my heart with such a strange longing; as if I gaze upon these now worthless things and see myself. I look at what the world calls ugly and useless, and am overwhelmed by the beauty.
I have known the depths of a tortured brokenness. I have felt the sting of losing almost everything. My job, my home, my friends, my health, my sense of security and safety…even my hope. I have waded deep into the waters of sorrow and pain, and thought of letting myself be drowned in that ever darkening abyss. I understand what it means to have a crushed and broken spirit.
So why, after such pain and loneliness, do I still love and even long for the broken? When I see a dead tree, I know it is dead. It does not try to hide that fact by borrowing leaves from other trees or trying to brush away the discolored bark now covering its trunk. The tree has accepted its brokenness, and I find that remarkably beautiful.
As my own life fell apart, I tried to pretend everything was okay. I worked hard to pretend that I wasn’t bothered by the losses I was suffering. I hid the truth from those around me and tried to hide it from God. And then I was too tired to pretend. I stood before God; scarred, sad, ashamed and utterly crushed. There was nothing left to give or say; it was me…in pieces. And I know that as God gazed on me, in all of my unfiltered and exposed brokenness, He thought; now this … this is beauty.