There was a turn of phrase that I used in a sermon a while back that was like that. It wasn’t the point of the sermon but people seemed to remember it (I’m not even sure the main point got across—but that’s okay!).
It was Lent and I was talking about abandoning the notion that we are bound to sin through the fall from the Garden of Eden. As I was unpacking that, I said: “We need to make a shift from thinking of ourselves as broken to thinking of ourselves as incomplete because there is a difference.” For many people, it seems the sermon ended there!
I’m good with that because this is a terribly important concept that not only re-orients our theology, but provides comfort and hope for our daily living: You are not broken. God doesn’t make mistakes. You make mistakes (sometimes called sins) and you are called to learn from them, but you are not broken. You are put here to evolve and God through Christ stands ready to walk with you on that path to become all that God created you to be—imperfections and all.
The point is that you are not a miserable, worthless creature who stands in need of saving. It is not the case that, if you are lucky, God may just spare you eternal punishment (which you completely deserve, by the way) and give you one more chance. But don’t blow it because if you do, well, let’s just say it is a quick trip down from there. I have every confidence that things don’t work this way!
This kind of thinking is alive and well in the world, however, and it tries to scare people into loving God and accepting Christ. Trouble is, love and fear don’t go together. It is next to impossible to love someone you are afraid of; at least in the way we typically think of love.
Instead, I hope you always remember that you are just the way you are supposed to be. In this moment, right now, you needn’t be more than you are. God’s love for you is complete. When you are ready, Christ, in joy (not rage!), invites you through the door to your next stage of being; whatever that may be. This happens again and again on our faith journey.
The only thing that hampers this progression is the idea that at your core you are a disobedient, sin-filled wretch and that God has God’s hand on the trap door beneath you just waiting for you to say or do the wrong thing.
So I invite you again to sit with this truth: You are not broken, you are simply incomplete.