Tag Archives: brokenness

In the Stretching Moments

17 Nov

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For over three years, I’ve been walking on a broken foot.  Every step towards something or away from something was taken on a foot that wasn’t healed. Because I didn’t know it was broken, I walked on it anyway.

Often times, my foot would was sore and swollen. My podiatrist assured me I was fine, just suffering from tendonitis.  She told me to keep doing my normal activities and gave me a strong painkiller.  So I worked out, jumped, played, drove, shopped, and swam.  I walked on a boardwalk, on a sandy beach, on the sides of beautiful rivers, chased children and puppies, and I stood.  When I stopped taking the painkiller, which masked what was going on in my body, it hurt too much to stand. It hurt so much to walk, at times I would fight back tears.

Right now, it hurts too much to stand.  Sometimes I fight back tears.

So I’m in physical therapy, learning how to stretch my muscles and tendons because my broken foot doesn’t work properly.  It can’t do what it was designed to do—to roll from the heel to the toes—to carry me from place to place.

The muscles in both feet are atrophied. Therefore, they’re learning how to be strong again through stretching and bending and pulling and aching.

And the stretching out hurts.

As stiff muscles are pulled this way and that, they burn and the burning makes me nauseous.  Yet I keep stretching because I know my foot won’t always be broken.  I know that the stretching will provide the healing I need.  I know the muscles will become strong.

My foot isn’t the only thing that’s broken.  In fact, in many ways it has taken a back seat to my broken heart and crushed spirit.

See, I was doing life broken and crushed I didn’t realize it.  From the business (busyness?) of doing ministry and life, my spirit had become atrophied.

And now I’m in the place of the stretching out—finding a new place to belong, putting myself out there to make new friends, healing from wounds that are still bleeding, and pulling on  muscles that are rigid. 

I’m opening my hands before God, for He is the One who gives and takes away

The stretching out is uncomfortable, but I’m trying to see it as a gift.  Everything God gives me or allows to happen in my life is part of the stretching.  He is making the hard places malleable and builds strength in the weak places.

The stretching is necessary if I’m ever going to walk right again…and I don’t just want to walk, I want to run!  I want to run the race He has given me to run.

It is strange how God still allowed me to walk broken and to do ministry so crushed, yet that’s His mercy.  Maybe we’re all broken, but He only makes us aware of the areas of brokenness as we can handle them, as we become ready for Him to heal them in our lives.

I’m walking broken—physically and spiritually and emotionally—but I am still walking.  Isn’t that really the point of this race we call life?  Whether we rest or run a marathon, we keep on going.  Whether we’re warming up for a sprint or drinking Gatorade on the sidelines, we look at what is ahead, not behind

And sometimes we’re in the stretching, the waiting and the trusting for the moment God will let us run loose.  We will be stronger, faster, and more like Him because of the stretching.  The brokenness and the stretching is all part of the life race. 

Unlike other races, It’s not about who wins.  It’s about how we get there.  Because we were made to run.

*This post was heavily inspired by Jennie Allen’s RESTLESS Bible Study and Ann VosKamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts.  I highly recommend both resources!

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Bebo Norman :: From the Ruins

14 Sep

Talking with Bebo Norman is like chatting with an old friend; except I’ve never met Bebo Norman. However, I’ve closely followed his career.  Easing into our phone interview with a joke, Bebo informed me that he’s running errands while he talks.  Moving into a safe icebreaker, we chat about his family and rearing of his one-year-old son. Specifically, who is better at diaper duty: “I’m better at it; there’s no question,” laughs Bebo.  “I haven’t timed it.  I pride myself on cleanliness rather than speed.”

It’s this articulate attention to detail in lyric and music that has made Bebo Norman a popular singer/songwriter since 1996.  Looking back on the past 12 years is like reading an autobiography. “I really have a unique opportunity, a gauge of where my life story has been and how God has been so strangely consistent in the middle of all that.  I say ‘strangely’ because sometimes I can look up and wonder where God is, but I have this constant reminder of the consistency of Him through these songs and through my story.”

After finishing his first record deal, last year, Bebo signed with Seattle-based BEC Recordings, home to artists such as Jeremy Camp, Kutless, and Chris Taylor. On the heels of releasing an immaculate Christian album, Christmas…from the Realms of Glory in 2007, Bebo’s latest project is a self-titled album and probably his most revealing and vulnerable. “My prayer—and I really do hope this happens—that every year I live, I can be more vulnerable relationally and musically.”

Similarly, Bebo draws from his life humbly noting, “I don’t really know how to write songs unless I’m writing them out of life.”  Take the song “Britney,” a quiet apology to women who have been ravaged by lies about true beauty from culture and media.  Ironically, the song was inspired by Britney Spears.

“Truth be told, who writes a song about Britney Spears?” rhetorically asks Bebo with a chuckle.  “I was up late one night because I couldn’t sleep.  I was flipping through the news channels when I came upon a pretty tragic story about Britney,” referring to Spears’s hospitalization.

“She was being taken off in a stretcher.  My first instinct was to respond cynically, and then there was a freeze frame moment.  She had this look on her face where she was completely lost in brokenness and despair.  The thing that struck me—paralyzed me—was that I’ve had that look on my face before.  I was able to look at her life with compassion, not as a tabloid story.”

Not excusing her poor choices, Bebo continues, “Who, if not the Church, is going to say ‘hope is here’ to the culture, to someone like Britney Spears?  We are called to live with compassion in a broken world.”

Though it is the opening song on the album, “Pull Me Out,” is one of Bebo’s most personal songs to date.  Recently opening up about his struggles with anxiety and panic attacks over the past five years, Bebo lays it all out in this song.  But for the purposes of this interview, he was more than willing to candidly discuss anxiety with a fellow sufferer.

Suffering from panic attacks which seemed to revolve around playing music, Bebo says he felt as though he could not breath and his heart would race and sweat would pour down his face.  “I would try to convince myself before I played a show that I could do it.  ‘I know how to play these songs, which I’ve literally played a thousand times and I can breathe; I’m breathing right now.’  Despite the positive self-talk, Bebo shares that sometimes he would “literally lose it. It is the most helpless feeling I’ve ever felt.”

By opening up to those around him and getting help, Bebo is learning to manage his anxiety.  At first, he was ashamed to tell anyone about his attacks. “I was praying about it and praying about it and reading Scriptures about it and praying that God would heal me from it—all these things.  I don’t believe this, but subconsciously within the culture of Christianity, we communicate that if you’re not alright, then something’s not right with you spiritually.”  But it wasn’t the judgment of others that keep Bebo suffering silently, it was his own inability to reason through his anxiety.

“I’ve always prided myself on my ability or what I thought was my ability to reason my way through things.  This whole struggle with anxiety has been the first thing in my life that I haven’t been able to reason through… that was the scariest moment for me. I didn’t understand why it happened or when it was going to happen again.  For years and years, I felt a lot of shame and frustration in that; I was trying to fix it on my own.”

While anxiety has put Bebo on edge, it has also allowed him to cling to the very edges of his faith. “The older I get, the more I realize that faith is not about this accumulation of wisdom or wealth or knowledge or spiritual gifts.  Faith is literally, as defined by Scripture, a desperate clinging to Christ.  In that sense, anxiety has done nothing but increase my faith because it has forced me to do nothing but cling to Christ.” He thoughtfully adds, “Clinging to Christ doesn’t mean that the anxiety is going to go away, but it does mean that God is in the middle of that anxiety.”

In his musings about anxiety, Bebo swings back to the first song he wrote for the project. Inadvertently, “Ruins” became the theme song for the whole album with its simple phrase: “Let my ruins become the ground You build upon.”  Bebo shares. “Anxiety has stripped me of a lot of things.  It has broken down notions in my mind about control, vanity, and reason. It is from brokenness that I want God to rebuild this faith structure that I have, which isn’t built on my own abilities.”

Rebuilding and starting afresh are what Bebo Norman’s latest project is all about. His admirable vulnerability only add to his ability as a songwriter to strengthen this man of God, as he lets his ruins become the breaking ground of faith.


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