Sometimes, I tell people I am part of the "Church of the Broken" - a broken man in a broken world. I find it helpful to classify myself like this, but it does tend to annoy people.
Being as weird as I am and having absolutely no compunction about messing with the English language - pirating, inventing, dismantling and re-creating words to meet my needs and whims - I tend to be loose with definitions and lazy about justifying them. But the word "broken" is important enough that I think it's worth clarifying.
So let me admit that when I refer to myself as "broken," I don't mean "malfunctioning." I don't think I was once going along all ticketty-boo, and then something awful happened and now I'm a useless mess. What I mean is something more like broken-down, like clay that's pliable because someone has broken it out of its hardened shape and bent and kneeded it by hand, so that the hand-warmth has infused it with potential. When this happens, the clay has become perpetually available to be molded into a new shape - the shape required by ever-evolving circumstances.
There is something about the air on this planet that wants to harden me... to force me to retain a shape once I'm in it. It seems safer to be something - to have rigid ideas about the world and very set patterns for how I am living in it. It is safer, in one sense, to turn myself into an inanimate object. But it is also, I have found, very boring. It is not life.
There was a time when I thought I knew what I was. I sat as still as possible, my teeth clenched and my brow furrowed as cracks began to form all over me and I hardened into an ugly, misshapen parody of what an earthen vessel can be.
But then, at what seems to me now to have been the last possible moment, someone came along and picked me up and smashed me, hard, against a table. They did this again and again and it was the most horrible thing I could have imagined. I thought I was going to die, as my life and my marriage unraveled. They threw me around, punched me, and beat me with dripping wet hands. I felt parts of myself flying off in every direction. But I also felt water and warmth seeping into me, and eventually, I realized something new... I was free to be anything. I was free to live. For the briefest moment, I realized with my whole being that I did not need to be so sure all the time. I could let loose, and enjoy being constantly re-shaped and re-made by something beyond my ability to comprehend.
I think I was born to be - in the best possible way - the plaything of God. I was made to be ever-incomplete, a part of a joyous creative process. In brokenness is life. I wasn't made to know, or to understand or to be one thing. Those are interesting diversions and at their best provide a quest that is an intriguing part of living, but I was not meant for knowledge, control, rigidity or arrival, I was made for the joy of it, for a Great, Becoming Act of Creation.
To be this way is to live fully in faith... to abandon all fear. I do not like this. I (sort of) enjoy my certitude and fear. They give me the illusion of power in a world where I am very small, and weak, and isolated. But I am tired of drying up and becoming brittle.