Hundreds came to Longview, Washington, to hear Jeffrey R. Holland, religious leader and past university president speak. After only a few minutes he set aside his planned sermon and said he was moved to talk about something else. He said, "God loves broken things." Those words struck members of the congregation, silencing the room. He went on to explain, "He loves a broken heart and a contrite spirit." A contrite spirit is someone who feels guilt and remorse.
Why would God love broken things? Perhaps, when we are broken we are often finally willing to turn to him. It is sometimes in a total state of despair that we are at last willing to fall completely to our knees and cry to the Lord for help. In those moments we are often most ready to turn our lives over to God, search his scriptures, follow his guidance and have a change of heart.
It is also in our broken and lonely moments that we fall back into bad habits to cope with past traumas. Waiting for the Lord's plan can take patience. It is tempting to seek a quick fix including alcohol, online pornography and other self-destructive behaviors to medicate our pain in a quick and costly way. In order to avoid self-destruction, we must do the hard work required to put ourselves back together.
But, in the darkest moments of the longest days, if we can just hang on, the sun will rise again and we can find wholeness and spiritual peace.
When you feel broken, like a vessel leaking the very spiritual matter that used to fill your lost and broken soul, there is hope. The following simple steps can help mend your heart, heal you and fill you with the spirit.
You may have prayed many times before. Whatever your religion or method of prayer, Dr. Christina M. Puchalski examined faith and healing and their connection. The doctor met with a focus group working with patients living with HIV/AIDS. They have found that patients often report that HIV made them look at life differently, led to a belief that they are on earth for a specific reason ... their faith in God helps them. Some patients even reported that their life was better after being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and that their two primary needs at the end of their life were companionship and spiritual comfort. Prayers can be said in groups, individually, out loud or silently.
Start each day with prayer. Here is a simple way to pray that allows you to speak from the heart.
Greet your Father in Heaven with reverence, "Our Father, which art in Heaven."
List all the things you are grateful for, even if the list feels short right now.
Then, from your heart, share your wants and needs. This is your perfect father who has given you a direct line home. He may not buy you everything you ask for, but he has promised he will provide what you need.
Close it with the same respect and add an amen.
Read scripture daily
Choose a book of scripture and study it. By reading in the morning, you set the tone for your day. By reading at night, you set the tone for your mood and sleep. Fill yourself with personal information about your God and Savior. Learn first-hand what scriptures say. Keep a study journal. A Focus on the Family article by Robert Velarde lists eight reasons for daily scripture study.
Although you may feel like hiding problems that make you feel broken or overwhelmed, seek help. Help can come from clergy, counselors or professional doctors. Share as much as you feel able and accept advice as it applies. Then, ponder the advice you are given. Work with trusted therapists, friends and family to move forward. Go back to your knees and work on making a life plan that will bring you more joy.
Immerse yourself in the light of God
Choose to surround yourself with uplifting people and experiences. Only attend uplifting movies and entertainment. Choose music that is inspiring and clean. Spend time in holy places. Surround yourself with like-minded people who encourage you, inspire you, have the qualities you wish you had and are doing things that you would like to do. Let a little of their light help you in your darkest moments.
Dr. Marc Muchnick in a Psychology Today article said, "If you want to be happier and have less regret in your life, stay as far away as possible from toxic people. Instead surround yourself with positive, supportive people who will encourage you and believe in you."
Dr. Mark Snyder reported volunteering increases happiness. In a USA Today article he said, "People who volunteer tend to have higher self-esteem, psychological well-being, and happiness." Snyder says, "All of these things go up as their feelings of social connectedness goes up, which in reality, it does. It also improves their health and even their longevity."
You can start small. Look around your home and then your extended friends and family for opportunities to do little service projects like help the elderly weed or deliver food to a new mother.
Everyone experiences sorrow, pain and loss. Everyone makes mistakes. You are never truly alone. There is no way to really live without risking injury or relationship issues.
When you feel broken, be grateful, for it is in these dark and dreadful moments that we are often ready to look up, let go and let God direct our lives. And when the pieces are put back together, it will be a mosaic of heavenly creation.
Shannon Symonds, Author of Safe House due to be released July 2017 by Cedar Fort, has 15 years experience working as an Advocate for victims of domestic and sexual violence while raising 6 children in Seaside Oregon. She loves to write, run and Laugh