“Gather the fragments, that none shall be lost.” John 6:12
At BECOMING retreats, we use the term fragments to represent parts of our souls that have gotten broken or separated along the way. Fragments are the parts of us yet to be healed or reconciled to the more perfected picture of our lives in God. Because human brokenness is considered unbecoming, our natural tendency is to reject our fragments or bury them deep out of fear or shame. We want these anomalies and outliers to be made invisible to public viewing and human judgment.
Although, we do our best to keep up the appearance of goodness and perfection, by revealing only the more whole and beautiful parts of ourselves, the fragments of our souls still speak, and usually not when spoken to. These broken parts tend to show themselves when life’s pressures begin to compound unexpectedly. Take, for example, the compounding pressures we are currently facing with the coronavirus pandemic, the free-fall of global financial markets, the near-universal lock-down, blanketed school closures, the cessation of human gatherings, and the “forced retreat” from our every-day lives.
To retreat means to be pulled, tugged, or dragged back from the extremities of life for managing, dealing, negotiating, or finding a cure. I never thought I’d live to see the day when the whole world seemed to come to a stand-still as if in retreat, especially one where we are retreating together, but apart one from another. But just like with all retreats, participants only get out of them what they choose to put into them. If we do not take the time to sort the fragmented parts of our souls, like many are now doing with their storage closets, we will likely find ourselves overwhelmed by the accumulation of more messiness from our time spent in “lock-down.” Upon release from lock-down, the realization of time well-spent or time squandered, through worrying about things outside our control, will quickly set in. For those who spent the time frozen in fear or spiraling out of control, it will prove more difficult to tend to the needs of the soul once the tyranny of the urgent returns. Space and time needed for more profound healing will have already gone-by. Our days will quickly be filled once again with the busyness of producing and moving forward. Those who are wise enough to spend some of this time clearing away soul clutter will be far more prepared for the days we will face ahead.
Therapeu is one of several Greek terms used in the Bible for healing. This word means explicitly healing that happens over time. It refers to how God treats people progressively by way of spiritual practices, whether that’s through personal prayer and contemplation or the counseling, medical intervention, or prayer received through others. God is the healer, but He often chooses to heal people using the components of His creation as vessels of grace. We’d all prefer to experience the miracle of instantaneous healing, but that is not how it usually works. What is instant, however, is the arrival of the Lord’s empowering presence the very moment any heart humbles itself before God in repentance, expresses its need to be changed and filled, and its desire to be used for good purposes. There is work involved in healing, and this is first and foremost the work of faith. This work begins with our coming to God in prayer and asking for His help and healing. It is not about praying some specific kind of written prayer, nor does it require a person to enter a church building. It is the simple cry of any human heart whenever and wherever it finds itself afraid and in need of God.
You may feel like you’re crawling
Over broken glass, crying a river
Into the pillows of your past
But you will be free, yeah
Oh, God’s not afraid of your honesty
He can heal your heart if you speak honestly
Humble sorrow and the honest cry
He will not pass by.
– Margaret Becker
The Lord invites us to come to Him with every fear, shame, insufficiency, hurt, betrayal, abuse, guilt, lie, loss, and pain. He is the Great Physician and Protector and the One who came to reconcile all things to Himself. “All things” include all the broken parts of your story. If we don’t take the time to do this work, the broken fragments that we hide will eventually “out us,” and the decay and separation that’s grown over time, between our soul and God’s spirit, will be revealed, and likely at a less opportune time. The Lord died on the cross at Calvary to assemble all the fragmented parts of His creation into one glorious story by the power of His love. May we take this set-apart time to mindfully entrust our fragments so that the pains of our pasts can, at last, BECOME a part of His-Story!
May this prayer I wrote in 2014 for use at BECOMING retreats prove helpful as you spent time sorting out your soul in God.