Shannon Dittemore
  • Broken Is Broken
  • October22nd

    10 Comments

    Conflict is what makes a good story. It’s what I look for when I’m scanning back covers, what I hope for when I flip the pages. But in my very real, every day life, I hate it. I hate everything about it.

    I wasn’t always so paranoid about disagreements. Confrontation didn’t bother me. Conflict was a natural thing, and should be dealt with just as naturally. But after a handful of sour experiences several years ago, I just don’t have the stomach for it.

    And now, I find myself doing anything and everything to avoid that kind of situation. At first, my efforts weren’t big ones. More reactionary. I’d avoid certain people, certain situations. I’d skirt issues that were sure to frustrate me. I patently refused to talk about politics or other uncomfortable topics. And while all of these things are probably okay–and sometimes wise–when done in moderation, it wasn’t long before I noticed something. My efforts were–and sometimes still are–keeping me from participating in the things I love. Not only do I actively avoid frustration, I have a tendency to run from it.

    Because I’m afraid.

    Afraid of losing friends. Of losing my mind. Of  the battle that ravages my gut when people are disappointed in me.

    I run from conflict because something tells me that’s easier. Until, in my messy efforts to avoid one frustration, I run smack into another. Because, guess what, people are everywhere. Life happens. And perhaps the hardest thing for any of us to swallow: not everyone agrees with me. *shock*

    But this whole running thing is ugliest when the inevitable downside rears it’s ugly head. When I am forced to deal with conflict, I find I’m out of practice. I’m rusty. And my efforts to resolve even the smallest of frustrations are awkward and leave me angsty when all is said and done.

    But I’m onto it now. It’s taken me a while, but I’ve finally realized that avoiding conflict is impossible. So I’m navigating the strange choppy waters of my own self-esteem and reminding myself that even complete anonymity won’t keep some people from disliking me. Haters will find me. They’ll find you. But if we hide from the possibility of frustration, we might just keep out the people who actually like us. Who care about us. Who are close enough to actually hurt us from time to time.

    I’m a work in progress, people, and I’m learning. The Bible says all sorts of things about dealing with conflict. Most notable is the passage in Matthew 18.

    But if I’m honest, the thing that helps me most when I’m adrift on waves of emotion, is to remember that God’s love for us surpasses all these things. He’s knows our brokenness. And even when we’re hiding, when we’re frustrated and lost, when we’re terrified of dealing with the inevitable conflict around us, nothing, nothing, nothing can separate us from God’s love.

    Cling to that when it’s hard. When you don’t have the strength to face another conflict, remember God’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:9: My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.

    I’m learning that my own strength is never enough. There’s truth to the insecure little voice that spouts, “You can’t do this alone!” But there’s peace in the idea as well. Because I’ve never been asked to face the frustrations of this life alone. And I think I can do just about anything when I’m wrapped in God’s love.

    Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.–Romans 8:35, 37-39 

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  • June29th

    3 Comments

    Once again, I have the honor of presenting a guest blogger. Please welcome Marni Arnold. When I read that her blog, Relevant Brokenness, exists to tell others that “brokenness isn’t a weakness, it’s an opportunity to allow God to put the pieces of your broken heart, mind, and life back together,” I knew she’d have something worthwhile to add to our discussion here on brokenness.

    Looking back upon my life, I see a trail of moments where I’m utterly disappointed in myself over.

    o Moments where I could’ve done things differently.

    o Moments where I could’ve thought about things, or people, differently.

    o Moments where I could’ve been more grateful for the moments I’ve had in a period of my life

    A life lived deep in regret, I’ve learned, keeps you far from the fulfilled life; and gets you nowhere fast.

    Upon speaking with my mother recently, I noticed a re-occurring theme in her life that is has mirrored my own life for far too long – unThankfulness. A life buried deep in regret of what hasn’t been accomplished, and still desires to be fulfilled.

    I’m not going to get into gory detail of what my mother has done, or hasn’t done, but I can tell you this much – she is despaired over where her life is at. Disabled and prone to illness as easily as one breathes; and I can tell she is utterly dissatisfied with her life in how it has turned out.

    Anger toward God exudes through her very pores, and seeps through the very utterings of her tongue in bitterness and harshness. It ails my heart for my mother, and for myself; for I have recently realized I’ve mirrored this very behavior many times over in my own life.

    Recently engrossing myself in Ann Voskamp’s, “One Thousand Gifts”, I’ve begun to see the error of my own ways in duplicating a life of unThankfulness.

    A thankless life to the gift-giver Himself, God, creates embitterment that leads to a despondent life that decays the core of who one was created to truly be.

    Being prone to depression myself, and deeply experienced it after the birth of my own son, it’s easy to live a thankless life. It’s a dark world that is lived in past regrets, bringing them to the forefront of your mind where it lies to you that you’ll never amount to much more than you already have in pain. That your life is worth nothing more than pain itself – so there is no use in trying.

    I’ve lived in the dank, stagnant, wretched area for so long – and a breath of fresh air has recently entered my soul reminding me that small moments of my life matter.

    From the speck of light that peeks in through the curtains to wake me up out of my slumber, to the crumbs left on our son’s chair after enjoying a graham cracker in a chipmunk-like fashion, to watching my husband relax on the couch after a hard day’s work – always open armed to embrace myself or our son; or to show endearment for a feline companion.

    These are all gifts, beautiful gifts, that are easily over-looked (especially in moments of depression). Darkness can hide the beauty of God in your life; therefore, the gifts He has to offer must intentionally be sought out with passionate fervor.

    I’ve lived the thankless life, as I’ve been so easily taught how to do through an example from someone I never expected to learn this from. Yet, because He is such the redeemer that He is…I am finding freedom in the smallest of moments (even washing the dishes by hand now), because I’m intentionally seeking the gifts He gives to me on a moment by moment basis.

    It’s bittersweet to look upon the ones you love, and know they’ve not been the best example to you. From this, it’s easy to become embittered with them – yet, even in the moments of recognizing the poor examples of others through their lived out lives, these too are gifts. These are blessings that should be counted, for without them – we’d never know the very things we need to change in our own lives.

    I thank God for my mother. She may not completely understand that, especially at times when we have space between us – but I do thank God for her. Even in all the hurt I have experienced with her, and through her example in my life – I count her as a gift. For I would’ve never known to…

    o …love the way I love, without her .
    o …embrace the best out of the worst, without her.
    o …thank God for my life, and every moment of it, even when in moments it can seem to be so lonely, without her.

    Life is but a strung together series of moments that is shorter than we realize.

    Our breaths are numbered, our days counted…and we have but one choice concerning enjoying it to it’s fullest. Give thanks in all things…even the despairing moments.

    Thankfully…to God…I’ve chosen to start giving thanks, and choose to continue to give thanks even when it gets dark.

    ———————–
    Blog: http://relevantbrokenness.com
    Twitter: @marniarnold
    Email: marni@relevantbrokenness.com
    Facebook: http://facebook.com/marniarnold
    Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/marniarnold

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  • June18th

    7 Comments

    It is my pleasure to introduce you to my very first Guest Blogger, Karen Daly Cook. I met Karen through a friend and quickly fell in love with her passion to help the broken. Karen describes herself as a therapist-in-training but I guarantee you’ll get so much more than that when you visit her blog, The Couch.

    It was a typical summer day and I was seven years old. Skinny, quiet and afraid…I knew what awaited me and yet I lacked the ability to control my own fate.

    I was laying on my big four – poster bed. Through the open window I could hear kids playing outside and wished that I could join them, but that was not my decision to make and I knew better than to fight it.

    I could feel the cool sheets under me as the breeze fluttered around me gently sweeping over my skin and through my hair.

    I think it is this moment of tenderness and peace amidst the dread that stands out in my memory the most.

    From my place on the bed, I watched the breeze blowing the curtains as if watching a TV show. The curtains floated with ease and grace as they danced with the wind creating intriguing shadows with the afternoon sun.

    Warm summer winds filled my room with the sweet smell of freshly cut grass along with the lingering scent of fabric softener on my pillowcase.

    These sweet aromas were a stark contrast to the putrid smell of sweat, hot breath and angry words.

    As I lay there with veiled tears and body numbing pain, I would retreat to a place where no one could hurt me.

    In my imagination I would fill my room from floor to ceiling, using up every molecule of empty space in my room. I would stack beds, dressers, desks, lamps, bookshelves, bicycles and anything I could think of to pack every conceivable pocket of vacant space in my room to keep the monster away from me.

    This was the game I played in my mind to protect my heart and soul from the devastation that was being done to my body.

    I felt broken, dirty, damaged, lost and ashamed.

    As I attempted to fill the spaces in between, I was unaware that there was another force at work in my life and this force was God.

    It would be many years before I would come to know God and begin a relationship with Him, but I see how He protected me, provided for me and prepared me for life in Christ.

    As I look back at that part of my life, I see God’s fingerprints all over my life. It is not the life I would have chosen but knowing what I know today – I wouldn’t change a thing.

    God has taken a fragile, broken and lost little girl and has redeemed and restored me to be a woman who loves Him deeply. God created in me a heart to know and love Him and to help others find wholeness, health and healing through relationship with Christ Jesus.

    So friends, I hope that if you find yourself in a broken, shattered and fragile place, that you will seek the One who can redeem any circumstance or situation.

    God can restore us heart and soul and bring us to a place of healing when we surrender our hearts to Him and allow the Lord to have His way with us.

    I know it is difficult to trust after betrayal and hurt, and so does God. He gave His one and only Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice so that we could live in right relationship with Him.

    He knows a thing or two about trust… will you trust Him with your heart today?

    Grace & Peace ~ Karen

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  • June16th

    4 Comments

    Dearest Friend,

    You’re shattered. Your clay splinters litter the ground, and the roses that sat so tall and proud in the safety of your fragranced water lay wilting on the floor.

    Did I push you? Did I pull? Do I bear responsibility for your scattered shards?

    I want to pick you up and cradle you to myself–every last piece of you. But your jagged edges bite at my hands and I don’t know how to hold you. I don’t know how to help.

    But, your emptiness is laid bare and I want to cover you.

    I know you can’t do it on your own. You can’t put yourself back together. You are many things, my love, but independence will kill you.

    You are a vase. A beautiful, broken vase. And I weep at my inadequacies. At my inability to understand your make-up.

    Another thing I know: I can’t do it–I can’t fix you. I don’t know how.

    But I can stay by your side while He does. While the potter works.

    He’s the One who created you. The only one who knows your form and your soul well enough to mend you.

    The only one who’s already bled for your pain.

    If you’ll let Him, He’ll form you into something better. Something stronger that knows what it is to be broken.

    I know, because He’s done it for me.

    He’ll stand you on a firm foundation. And fill you again and again.

    He’ll pour into you until at last you are able to sustain a new bouquet.

    New life. New joy. New beginning.

    Imagine!

    You. Broken you.

    Better and stronger.

    The potter’s own, unique creation. Mended and whole.

    That you–a vessel of honor–would display His beauty to the world.

    So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. –Jeremiah 18:3, 4

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  • May26th

    7 Comments

    Random fact about me: I collect Tinkerbell figurines.

    I have since I was young. And while I’m very, very careful with them, I’ve had to repair more wings than I’d like. They’re never allowed out of their glass cabinet and whenever I move, I wrap them meticulously in bubble wrap before packing them away.

    But, something about the shuffle from one place to another after being continually protected, always has me busting out the superglue.

    Another random fact (that may not be so random): I’m a church brat. I grew up teething on the pews and knowing all the great hiding places in the sanctuary. I prayed the “sinner’s prayer” in the backseat of the family Citation when I was five-years-old. We were picking up our traditional after-church Chinese take-out and Sunday school had provoked all the right questions.

    My dad preached. My mom played piano. My sisters and I dressed up on Sunday mornings and we napped on Sunday afternoons. We hosted Bible studies at our house. We prayed over every meal. Our nursery rhymes were about Jonah and the Whale and our bedtime stories ended with Dad saying things like, “And that’s the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and to bed you go!”

    My dad was the pastor. My best friend was the daughter of an elder. And my first kiss was a guy I met at Bible College.

    This is how I grew up.

    I’ve always struggled with things like “giving my testimony.” It’s darn-near impossible to come up with an interesting story about forgiveness when the biggest transgression you can think of is stealing that shiny silver dollar from the offering bucket–the one Daddy made you give back.

    And yet, as life moves forward, I find myself clinging to this God of my childhood in an entirely different way. Not because Mom and Dad did, or because I asked Him into my heart over a box of chow mein, but because He’s the only one who has the answers when the shuffle of life leaves me shattered.

    Like my Tinkerbell figurines, I’ve never been grossly mishandled or abandoned to the elements. And compared to some, my life has been lived within the safety of a china hutch. But, life, even life as a church brat, is enough to clip the wings of a dreamer who believes she was created to fly.

    And while my “broken” is sure to be different than your “broken,” it doesn’t really matter, does it?

    Cause broken is broken.

    And broken must be fixed.

    Which is exactly what God has been doing for me over the past year. He’s been healing my heart and mending my wings. Some days I feel more broken than ever and it’s on those days I try to yank the glue from His able fingers.

    But, He’s patient with me, and though I hamper the process from time to time, I know my wings are strengthening. He waits on me and teaches me to wait on Him. As I do, I grow more confident my brokenness will be turned into a trophy of His grace and His long-suffering.

    This is the first article in a blog series I’m calling “Broken Is Broken.” I don’t pretend to have all the answers, and maybe I’ll get some of my friends to weigh in, but I know how devastating it is to be shattered within the relative safety of a protected life.

    Maybe even a church life.

    It’s paralyzing to have the world looking in at you through those glass doors pointing at your flaws while you stand ever so still and pretend your wings are just where you left them.

    I’d like to break the silence a bit and let you know it’s okay to admit brokenness. It’s okay to acknowledge pain and the need for healing.

    Because in some way, we’re all broken. It’s who we get to mend our wings that makes all the difference.

    Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.–Isaiah 40:31

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