You Are Broken and That’s Okay

Due to my research into anxiety, the algorithms have put me into the “likes to see mental health posts” bucket and I’ve noticed a lot of messaging around brokenness. Specifically, the outcry is: “You are not broken!”

My instant response is, “Really?” I’ve got a variety of problems that are making a tangled mess of me. I cannot function properly. I am not living well, feeling well, or thinking well. I’ve got an anxiety disorder that keeps trying to convince me that I’m in danger when I’m not. I deal with chronic pain and have flare ups with no cause that I can discern. There are definitely things wrong with me. How am I not broken, exactly?

Post after post, article after article, podcast after podcast beat the drum: “You are not broken. You are not broken. You are not broken.” But I am broken. People everywhere are broken. This message seems to fly in the face of reality, so I got to wondering: What do they mean by “broken”? Are we saying the same word but assigning different meanings?

The Meaning of Broken

According to Merriam-Webster, the adjective broken means:

  1. Violently separated into parts: shattered
  2. Damaged or altered by or as if by breaking such as: having undergone or been subjected to fracture; not working properly; or disrupted by change
  3. Made weak or infirm, subdued completely: crushed, sorrowful
  4. Cut off: disconnected
  5. Not complete or full
  6. Disunited by divorce, separation, or desertion of one parent

(I left out the definitions that don’t apply such as those related to land, money, etc.)

By these definitions, I think we can all heartily agree that we are currently broken or have been broken at various points in our lives. I know at any given moment for me the reality is that some aspect of me is not working properly.

So do people mean something else when they say, “You are not broken”?

To give these well-intentioned writers the benefit of the doubt, perhaps what they mean is you are not broken beyond repair, beyond help. And they’d be right…in certain situations. There are a lot of broken things that can be fixed, but there are also times when we are broken beyond repair, physically or even emotionally. Sometimes, we break and can’t ever get back to the person we were before. Sometimes, we are irrevocably changed.

Perhaps they really mean you aren’t hopeless and to take heart because there’s still hope for you. Again, this is tricky because sometimes broken things cannot be returned to their former wholeness, at least not exactly. In such situations, there is no hope to achieve the former wholeness, yourself pre-brokenness. In other situations, there is a great deal of hope for healing, repair, or recovery. Olympians have broken limbs, healed, and returned to exceed their previous personal bests. People have delved deep into the realms of depression and anxiety and come out again to lead happy, healthy, full lives. It all depends.

Perhaps instead they mean that there isn’t something fundamentally wrong with you. This could be true if you fully believe you have a terrible undiagnosed illness you don’t actually have (people with health anxiety struggle with this). But this is absolutely false if you believe that humans are inherently good inside and deny the reality that every human is born with a sin nature and therefore inherently has a problem that disconnects us from God. Again, it depends on what exactly someone means.

Context is key to understanding the phrase “You are not broken.” The best tactic to employ whenever you hear someone say it is to ask, “What do you mean?” over and over again until mutual understanding is achieved. Don’t swallow this phrase whole and use it to comfort yourself, because it may not be true depending on the context. The danger is if it’s not true, you’d be comforting yourself with a lie and it may prevent you from getting the help, support, or solution you desperately need.

The Truth about Brokenness

In the beginning, Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, doing what God told them not to do, and the consequences of this disobedient act has affected all of creation ever since. The created world had been perfect and good, mankind had been perfect and good and supposed to go on living forever in fellowship with God, but that disobedient act brought into the world shame, guilt, fear, sorrow, pain, conflict, toil, struggle, death, and separation from God (Genesis 3). This is the origin of brokenness. The Bible says that all of creation and all of mankind groan under the burden of brokenness and eagerly wait for when everything will be made right (Romans 8:18-23).

The Bible tells us the truth about brokenness. It’s been a problem for humanity since the very start. We are broken. We don’t function properly, our bodies go haywire and eventually die, our souls are needy being disconnected from our Creator. The world is broken. It doesn’t function properly, things go wrong in nature, everything wears down, wears out, and becomes dust. This is the problem and curse of sin, of falling short of the glory of God, and it’s a problem every human being has.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

The Hope in Brokenness

Listen to me: you are broken and that’s okay.


Because God did not abandon us to this problem we could never fix. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for the penalty of sin in our place, and He offers every human being salvation as a gift which we are to take by faith.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). (Ephesians 2:4-5)

Brokenness is no match for God. He gives us life, everlasting life out His love for us. This is why it is okay for us to be broken. We don’t need to fight it and deny reality to achieve hope amidst the hardship that comes with brokenness. We can admit we are broken to a perfect God who loves us and we can accept by faith the gift of salvation He provided to broken people desperately in need of much fixing.

Once we believe the good news just gets better and better:

Present Good

  • we are adopted into God’s family (Ro. 8:15)
  • we are sealed by the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our salvation (2 Cor. 5:5)
  • God promises that He’ll always be with us in this life (Heb. 13:5)

Future Good

  • we are promised that when we die we’ll be with God (2 Cor. 5:8)
  • we are promised new, perfect bodies in the future (Phil. 3:20-21)
  • God promises an end to pain, sorrow, and death (Rev. 21:4)

And that’s just scratching the surface of all that God promises and offers the believer!

You Are Broken and That's Okay

We don’t need to fear feeling broken or admitting we’re broken. We don’t need to deny it to have hope. No matter if we are broken physically, mentally, or to our very souls, we are never without hope, never without God’s sure promises, never without His comforting presence.

I know that whatever dark valleys my physical pain and anxiety takes me, He is with me through it all and my ending, no matter what, will be happy.

You are broken and that’s okay. Run to God with all of your brokenness and get the help you need. God loves and helps broken people.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart— these, O God, You will not despise. (Ps. 51:17)

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Ps. 147:3)

May we endeavor to be comforted by truth. 

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