In the Broken Places

By Kathleen

Kathleen is a palliative care nurse and lived for several years in a low-income area in south Asia.

How hard it is to put the brokenness of life into words. Sometimes—often—what is in my heart is too painful to be spoken or inked onto a page. All the broken places, all the pieces. All the ways I fail to be who I wish I was. Disappointments and lost dreams. The loneliness and isolation of returning to Canada after years overseas. Not belonging anywhere. Not being heard. The things I wish my family had done but never did—and the things they did that can never be undone. As a palliative care nurse, all the pain and suffering I've witnessed in my patients and their families—their angry outbursts and demands. My neighbours' messed-up lives. The state of the world.

Life itself is far darker and more painful and more screwed-up than I thought. Maybe only now I am seeing the world the way it really is—maybe grieving a loss of innocence. The world is not how I thought it was and never will be.

Why God lets this all be so, I have absolutely no idea. I have a lot more questions and far fewer answers than I’ve ever had. Sometimes I want nothing more than to walk away and live my own damn life in my own way.

And yet—


At the MoveIner conference last month, I was challenged to ask God why he’s planted me here. After living overseas, after all, I never planned to be back for long term. So why this season now? A few weeks after I started asking, he said, "You wanted to know me, didn't you?"

Well, yes. For at least 10 years, I have been pestering him to show me more of himself, asking to know him.

Somehow, in all of this darkness and brokenness and ugliness, Christ is here. I have found him more here than in the happy wholeness of before. When I bear my patients' anger, wipe their bottoms and their tears, and answer their call bells for the third time in half an hour, I find Jesus right there. When I am painfully lonely and no one understands or even notices at all, Jesus is right there. When I don't belong anywhere, he knows. When I hold the bread and wine in my hand, it is him, broken for me and this world I love. He knows brokenness too. He knows brokenness. He gets it.

I often stand in silence at my patients’ bedsides. No words, no answers, no cures. Just a box of kleenex and my presence. Only now have I begun to understand that Christ also does this for me. He doesn't offer fix-its or false cheeriness or answers. He is often silent. (How many of my quiet times in the past 2.5 years have been very quiet indeed!) But he is with me, always willing to listen, always present with me in the darkness and brokenness of my own heart and the world I live in.

Right here in my MoveIn patch, in my work, in all the broken pieces of my heart, Christ Jesus is here, giving me himself.