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When God heals the broken

First slide

Recently, I have reflected on how all our relationships are broken relationships. This looks a bit dismal at first, but once we acknowledge it — and recognize the gift that friendship with Christ is — it’s a most liberating reality. Every human relationship will disappoint if we expect it to be perfectly whole. It’s doomed from the beginning, because we all sin, and we will all have conflicts with others. And we will all hurt each other.


But Jesus doesn’t do that.

Jesus is the perfect friend. No matter how much I love my husband, Jesus is the perfect soulmate. He loves unconditionally. He keeps every promise. He binds every wound (and He’s never the one who has inflicted the wound). He never betrays. He never rejects. Nothing ever separates us from His love. Jesus deeply desires our well-being; further, He knows without mistake or exception exactly what is good for us.

I think we encounter struggle and disappointment when we expect any other human being to live up to the standards that only Jesus can. When we are little, most of us have a subconscious expectation that our parents will be as perfectly competent at relationships as Jesus is.  In a loving and stable home, parents come very close to living out that love in the care of their children. But even the healthiest of parent-child relationships are not perfect love. Even the most dedicated, mature, and well-meaning parent will fail her child many times over. We are sinners and we will sin, even when we most hope that we won’t. For a child who has grown up in a home that is not rooted in Christ’s love, where the giving and receiving of contrition and forgiveness are not part of the family culture, life can be a struggle of doomed expectations and hurt confusion.

The sad reality is that some parents will never be able to give selflessly of themselves. They will never be able to pour out for another human being in genuine sacrificial love. Healing can come to the heart of that child, but it might take a very long time. The broken child who was abandoned either physically or emotionally by his parents can be healed and made new when he understands that Jesus is the faithful one who will never leave and never fail.

In all our relationships, the recognition that God is God and the rest of us fall short is a liberating one. We can stop expecting mere mortals to be what only God can be. That means that women don’t ask their husbands to be omnipotent and omnipresent and omniscient. Instead, they rest in the knowledge that God is all those things, and let their husbands be flawed and broken.

Then the miracle happens. We stop expecting the people in our lives to be as perfect as God is or to fill the hole that only God can fill, and God is allowed to step into the suffering and failure of human relationships. We don’t throw up our hands and say that nothing will ever be good enough, and we don’t sulk.

Further, we don’t look to be big and brave and self-help our way to finding wholeness in broken relationships or to fixing other people. We acknowledge that we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. We don’t expect to put the pieces back together under our strength, and we definitely don’t expect another human being to put them back together for us. Instead, we find healing in Jesus’ suffering. We seek solace in His perfect sacrifice. We surrender all the hurt and disappointment of human relationships to God, and then we let Him re-shape the broken into His own image. That healing yields our sanctification, and sanctification opens us up to giving others in a genuine, open-handed, secure way.

Foss, whose website is takeupandread.org, is a freelance writer from Northern Virginia.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017