This is the moment we all need each other — that I need you.
This is the moment we look at each other and say we need each other and maybe there’s a better way.
The summer I turned 16 was a hot, muggy summer, and the tree frogs sang anxious like they do this summer and the wheat harvest was heavy with yield.
I spent humid nights cutting up the thin skin of my wrists, bleeding out of pain I could no longer contain. What do we do with pain we can’t contain? Is the worst human emotion feeling alone?
Feeling like no one understands us may be what overwhelms us the most.
That summer, my mom was in a locked psych ward, my dad was walled off to us, angry and silent, the grass drying and dying over my sister’s grave, the whole world teetering on the edge of some great chasm of despair, and me, hemorrhaging a bit. Or more than a bit.
What I know is this: Your unspoken broken will break you unless you release it. Unless you speak it.
You’ve let me do this here — and this is me taking your hand, looking you in the eye, and thanking you a thousand times for being my safe place, for letting here be our safe place us both to be real and unfold.
What I know is: We all carry our unspoken brokens. And they will break us unless we reach out.
The summer I turned 40 — I felt a whole new kind of broken. Turns out what can happen when you’re halfway through your life, you wonder if you’ve found a truly meaningful way through your life?
What can happen is you would give nearly everything for more time just to get more right, less wrong. You can change — change into someone who’s begun embracing a love so large it broke her heart all over again in a thousand aching places, a woman who surprises you by longing to meet the world’s suffering with her own, because she knows that wounds can heal wounds.
You can find out your heart is exploding and love and suffering are kin in ways we may not want to admit.
Honestly, what happened is — I didn’t quite know the way to put all these broken pieces back into place. And maybe that was the point?
Maybe — maybe instead of trying to put all the broken pieces of your life together again — maybe there’s deeper peace in reaching out to give those broken pieces away?
That’s what I had done. Instead of trying to put the pieces of my brokenness back together again, I began to give the pieces of my broken heart away though I didn’t know how, and I didn’t often want to even—didn’t even know what it truly meant. And I got it all wrong—in countless ways.
But, if I know anything, I know there’s no more powerful force in the world than giving. For God so loved — He gave.
I’d lived it —in thanksgiving — I’d given thanks for a thousand gifts, and it had begun to radically transform my life. But what if the story didn’t end there? Giving can’t stop at thanksgiving.
What if life is ultimately about living broken and given? Taking everything as grace, giving thanks for it — and then being broken and given.
What if brokenness itself was meant to be embraced and given?
What if brokenness — could be made into abundance?
This I began — not to write about. Not laying the way down on paper. But to simply, quietly live — wrestling the way out in my own skin, with the shards of my own busted heart.
Because there is nothing we need to know more than how to live with our one broken heart. How do you live with your unspoken broken? What is an honest answer to suffering in a broken world? What matters more than figuring all this out?
This is what happened too: We found ourselves opening up our front door and letting the broken, the homeless, the abandoned in — and seeing ourselves. I traced my own scars —- and the scars I kept making. I sat with the brokenness under my own roof — and began to believe that brokenness is always the best beginning. I began to embrace it in startling ways: Sitting with brokenness is how wholeness comes to meet you.
I went to Iraq, Haiti, Rwanda, Uganda, Guatemala, Ecuador, inner city North America, backroad Canada, China and sat with the forgotten and marginalized, sat with women who saw their husband’s heads blown off by ISIS, women who could only carry two children in their arms as they fled the killing and had to choose between children — and had to live with themselves after the choosing.
Met you, all over the world — and you handed me your broken hearted hallelujahs and together, we broke a bit —- and began to break free.
And this is the one thing I kept fiercely doing:— I didn’t turn away from brokenness. I kept choosing to live the most authentic, transformative way I know: I chose to live given. Giving Thanks. Being Broken and Given.
And then, very slowly, I started to write. Did any of this broken way make any sense in a broken world? At times, I wanted nothing more than to give up. Eventually, I passed the story to a woman who intimately, powerfully knows brokenness in her own life and the world’s, Christine Caine.
“Ann — I read The Broken Way with tears streaming down my face, my Spirit crying out YES, YES, YES, YES!
If we can live out the truth contained within The Broken Way, I believe we will reach & impact our generation like never before.
So powerful. So prophetic. So profound. Everyone needs to read this book.”
I reached out to a pastor and Senior Editor at the largest Christian publishing house:
“I’ve never felt more “wrecked,” more grateful, more transformed—on any other project I’ve been part of in thirty years of publishing experience.”
And an associate publisher said something I’ll never forget: “I believe this book is even better than One Thousand Gifts. Exquisite.
The signature of knock-out writing is this: it does more than touch people, it moves them—deeper into who they are meant to be. The Broken Way moves readers deeper into who they are meant to be…”
Sometimes you need other people to be your eyes and ears, to hear your own heart in ways you can’t. Anxiety and fear can make you blind to the abundance being made out of your brokenness.
So comes this summer and I turn around with this story of The Broken Way: The Daring Path to the Abundant Life —-and it turns out the world’s more than a bit broken with fear and shootings and anger and blood in the streets and horror on children’s faces and deepening chasms of division everywhere we turn.
This is the moment we all need each other. This is the moment I need you and maybe you need me and we need to move deeper into who we are meant to be…
This is the moment we could together dare to take The Broken Way and believe it leads to the abundance we all need right now.
And maybe — maybe before this little story releases in October, we could join together as the GIFTers, live out this dare of #365GIFT — be GIFTs and Give It Forward Today, sit a moment with weekly short videos dares, starting next week, that offer these Give It Forward Today daily dares, intentional acts of living broken and given, that become a bit of healing, a bit of genuine wholeness.
Because this is the moment, right now, here, we are at a crossroads. We can all feel it.
And what does not matter right now, is labels and rhetoric and loud arguing — what matters is that we love each other beyond labels, that we sacrifice for each other regardless of differences, that we live broken and given right into the brokenness, with bits of our own broken hearts.
We can be polarized by differences or be characterized by living given.
We can debate about the national dialogue or we can engage in a neighbourly dialogue– listening well, hearing better, being kind always.We can fall prey to the politics of division or fall on our knees and pray to be in a state of united kindness.
Kindness isn’t weakness and humility isn’t a liability and giving forward to each other may be the only way forward with each other.
This is the moment a whole broken world needs us to be the lovers and the reachers, the GIFTers and the witnessers, to be the darers and the willing and the broken and the given.
Right now is the time we need to not be afraid of broken things — because He is redeeming everything.
Now is the time, for such a time as this…
we could dare to maybe take a deeply more meaningful, powerful, transformative way — a broken way.
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Join me in #365GIFT, starting with videos in your inbox next week — and become a GIFT to the world, every day for a year, a brokenhearted hallelujah, living broken and given, one intentional act of brokenhearted compassion at a time. Join us and let’s begin together next week?
Dare to be a GIFTer, to live broken & given. Take The Broken Way.
Book cover and photo credits: Mary Anne Morgan and Hope Voskamp