On the drive to their apartment, I told Art that there’s a 50-50 chance they’ll be a no-show. Hurting people like this are a gamble for follow-through. Been there, done that a hundred times. But… we’re called to do it anyway.
We pulled up alongside the Arbors, one of the affordable housing places hidden in a forgotten neighborhood of south Fargo. I told Art to stay put and I’d go around the backside and try to buzz them on the intercom.
Fifteen minutes of buzzing, waiting and silence was all I got. I shook my head but held no animosity or resentment. Just part of the game, and I headed back for the car.
On my way back I stumbled across this broken-off head of a barbie doll on the lawn. I stopped, pondered for a moment, and smiled. How fitting… a perfect symbolic metaphor for this couple. Broken.
Monday morning found me in my office with my window open to enjoy the gorgeous day and beautiful breeze. About 10-ish, I heard a screeching outside that at first, I ignored. And then as it continued, I thought it to be a hawk of some sort, but as the intensity and volume increased, I realized it was a hysterical woman. I peered out my window and saw a man and woman running back and forth across 6th Ave, and into our parking lot. They were screaming at one another, and body language declared quite an epic battle. I quickly descended to the parking lot and a fellow citizen in a nearby car had already called 911. I instantly recognized the couple as my new friends from last week. A pair of Fargo’s finest soon arrived to help and sorted out this very public domestic. After the police left, the couple lingered around our parking lot and entryway for a long time with the heat of the conflict simmering and smoldering just below the surface. Thank God for our superb police. But police can rarely fix broken.
In all my years of ministry, when people counsel in my office, or through our daily interactions with people in general, I am blown away by the amount of brokenness and pain that surround us. It’s just mind-boggling. Most of it is hidden below the surface in the hearts and minds of those all around us in the privacy of their own world. Sometimes though it leaks out in the public arena like our new friends this week in the parking lot. Brokenness, pain, and suffering may be hidden, but they can’t be denied. We all experience brokenness at some point in our lives.
Mental health, depression, anxiety, addictions, broken friendships, job loss, health issues, aging parents or spouses, empty or crumbling marriages, divorce, loneliness, cancers, bullies, job stress, tumors, breakups, grief, loss, and now COVID. These are all personal issues of brokenness and pain. Let’s not even mention what flashes across our TV screens on the news with the Afghanistan crisis, mask wars, vaccination debates, political dividedness, droughts, racial tensions, drenching rains, floods, global warming, and now hurricane Ida. Our bigger world appears to be broken.
To be broken is human. It comes with our flawed human condition. Unfortunately, police can’t fix broken. Nor can politicians or political parties. Governments can help with some of our big world problems, but they can’t do much with our personal brokenness. School systems can’t fix broken. Alcohol or drugs don’t fix brokenness. Nor does binge-watching Netflix or hours spent on Facebook. Ironically, even churches can’t do much to fix broken.
To be broken is a condition of the heart. And though a good cardiologist can mend your physical heart, the heart of our soul has only one healer. Much of our brokenness, both personally and corporately in the bigger world, has to do with sin. And sin has only one cure. Jesus. Bring your brokenness to Jesus. Lay it at the foot of the cross. Surrender your pain and struggle to the one who can bring about true and long-lasting healing.