There was a period of my life where I was overcome with guilt. When I say overcome, I mean that my chest would tighten in such a way that my whole body would tense, and I would begin to feel physically ill. I would wake up in the morning and remember the sin that I had committed and the pang would appear. It would stay there for a while until I got distracted, maybe with the YouTube video I would watch with breakfast, the problem I would try to solve in my pre-calculus class, or the conversation I would have with my family at dinner. But in those quiet moments in-between the distractions, I would be weighed down by failure and imperfection. I felt truly broken by my sin.
Now, I’ve always been a rule follower. Growing up, I was very much a teacher’s pet, and I never once got grounded. I believed that by following the rules I would be a good person and stay in a right relationship with God. Because of this, I never did anything “wrong” at school, and I never did anything that my parents had blatantly asked me not to.
This is one of the reasons why the guilt hit me all at once. I would never break any rules, yet the guilt and anxiety would still appear. I would remember that half-truth I told my friend or that movie I watched that I knew I shouldn’t have, despite never being told I couldn’t. I wasn’t necessarily “breaking” anything, yet every single time I stumbled and sinned, the memories of all of my past failures would come rushing back.
It was in my Sophomore year of high school that I began to realize what it means to be broken.
God created us to be in relationship with Him, but after the fall, that bond was shifted. While we are still creatures that were created in God’s image, our minds, hearts, and will are no longer ordered in the way that God intended them to be. We have desires that are apart from God—desires that we believe will fulfill us. On reflecting on the nature of man, I began to realize that maybe sin isn’t about breaking rules, laws, or orders—maybe sin is about walking down a path that leads us further away from God, no matter how little or big the act or intent.
During this period of my life I was praying, asking God to forgive me and to make me clean. But my desire wasn’t to be clean so that I could live in His eternal kingdom, but to be clean so that I could be rid of the wrong things I had done in my life and once again try to avoid sin at all costs.
Friends—my selfish desire was for my guilt and anxiety to go away and to be as close to perfect as I can get. But, when we look at scripture, we see that all of humanity is fallen.
My brokenness separated me from God because it hindered the relationship that I had with him. The things that I desired, the things in life that I longed for, were no longer aimed towards God. I figured that by following the rules and by doing the things I was told I would be “good.” That my heart would be aligned with God’s because I was not committing any atrocious sin.
However, the reality is that after the fall, all of humanity was considered broken. Our will is no longer naturally aligned with God’s and our desires with His.
I finally had a realization that following rules and holding on onto the bad things I had done would not eliminate the sin in my life. I had to reorder my heart to desire the things that God desires, to seek after Him in all aspects of my life. It was only when I finally accepted the fact that I am fallen and broken, that I was able to rest, letting go of the sin that had been weighing me down. In relinquishing my fallen nature to Christ and finding my eternal life in him, my brokenness took on a new purpose.