Security in Brokenness


WAS BROKEN. I remember the very moment I started to come to the end of myself.

I say “started” because the journey through the most sorrow-filled and spiritually dry season of my life began in this moment in 1994. Yet, somehow, I was able to drag my exhausted mind, body, and spirit along for the next eight years.

On that night, I stood at the bedside of my mother—my earthly security—watching her writhe in restraints on the top floor of a mental institution where my brother, five sisters, and I had  forcibly committed her for observation after months of erratic behavior. In my heart of hearts, I knew it was Alzheimer’s, but I breathlessly waited for the confirmation that would change everything. On that night, between moments of paranoia and lucidity, she bounced between demanding “How could you do this to me?” to compassionately comforting her sobbing children with assurances, “Please don’t cry. Everything is going to be okay.”

Even though I met Jesus at 5 years old, and despite receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit at the age of 10, my mother’s incremental disappearance chipped and chiseled my Pentecostal faith into a splintered semblance of Christian service. I was going to be a new version of me, a broken me, for the next eight years.

For about two years, I was a wife, a mother, and a minister on autopilot. I remember sometimes coming to myself when I was driving, not even remembering how I got from point A to point B.  Finally, I came to a place of resignation with my situation. But, for the next six years, I struggled silently with the insecurity of the degrading and debilitating death of my mother’s charm and  togetherness, her wisdom, and the spiritual strength that led countless children to Jesus over decades of teaching second graders in Sunday school.

In the dark, secret places of my heart, I was silently demanding, Lord, how could You do this to someone who committed everything to You? She doesn’t even know who You are now.

After moving to the desert in a new ministry role, instead of waking to the usual anxiety, one morning I awoke to the most vivid revelation on the ceiling of the pitch-black bedroom. In bright white letters, I saw it: INSECURITY.

I remember blinking my eyes wondering if I was asleep or awake, but my eyes were open, and God was trying to transform something inside of me that night. Suddenly, I heard His voice asking me a question: “Do you want to walk in this [insecurity]?” As I looked at the large block letters illuminated on the dark ceiling, I felt my spirit responding, “No!”

Then the Lord gently asked, “Or do you want to walk in this?”

I blinked, and the word that shined back at me had instantly changed to a more powerful authority in my life. For it now read IN SECURITY.

With one strategic break, my identity changed. God was revealing to me that He wanted to break me just as He had broken that word.

My mind goes to Mary, the sister of Lazarus, in John 11. Her brother had died while Jesus delayed coming to their home. When Jesus finally arrived, Mary said to Him, “Lord, if You had been  here, my brother would not have died” (v. 21 NKJV). She was broken by her brother’s death until Jesus went to his tomb and demanded, “Lazarus, come forth!” (v. 43).

Then came the next crucial moment in Mary’s story. She took an “an alabaster vial of very costly and precious perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured the perfume over His [Jesus’] head” (Mark 14:3 Amp). She destroyed what was all hers to spend it all on Jesus.

Flash forward in my life another three years. I sat on an airplane in emotional isolation. Another call had come for me to return home, potentially for the end. I was preoccupied with the  moment I would walk into the nursing home—this time, I would be a total stranger. The insecurity and brokenness infiltrated my spirit once again, and I could feel the growing dismay.

At the end of the flight to Indiana, to an airport I typically did not use, I finally acknowledged the lady who had been sitting across the aisle from me the entire time. I asked if she was from Indiana. She said she was actually from a little town in Illinois which, coincidentally, was the same town where my mother lived in a nursing home.

“Wow!” I replied. “My mom is in a nursing home there, and I’m heading to see her.”

I was stunned when she replied, “You must be Cathy.”

I froze, and then listened with tears streaming down my face as she relayed she was my mother’s nurse and how my mom often thought she was me, calling out my name, reminding her “she” was loved. With immeasurable compassion for me, God had orchestrated my encounter with my mother’s nurse to remind me of my undeniable need to stay broken before Him because no matter what I might face when I got there, I would be secure despite the pain.

Where fear and brokenness once reigned, His faithfulness overcame. Steeped in the disillusionment of my faith struggle, I poured out my fears and my failures on the never-failing Faithful One.

When you find yourself walking in the broken places, pour out that brokenness on Jesus. Allow Him to release you from your own abilities and self-confidence. Be broken before Him, and you will walk IN SECURITY.

Cathy Yaun is Girls Ministries coordinator for the Church of God in Tennessee. [email protected]