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Episode 04: Beauty in the Broken

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Hi, welcome to Episode 04: Beauty in the Broken of the Let’s Grow Podcast with Bree Blum!

In Episode One, I told you all about the beginning of my faith, and even how I finally came to understand that I didn’t understand a whole lot of anything… but that was seven years ago.

A lot has happened in seven years.  Can ya dig it?

Intentional Filling

Cynthia Occelli
Grow a Lima Bean in a Bag
Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge 
2 Corinthians 1:4, MSG

Let’s Grow Podcast Page

Transcript of Episode 04 : Beauty in the Broken

Have you heard the quote,

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone.  The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes.  To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”  – Cynthia Occelli

I have ALWAYS loved that quote and a dear friend of mine sent it to me today.  And it seems like the perfect introduction to the continuation of my story.

At the tender age of 30, when the Gospel cracked itself open and the Truth was exposed to my, now, open eyes, I didn’t understand what it meant to go through Occelli’s description of growth.  A coming undone.  I had experienced my fair share of heartbreaks, from guys mainly, but my life had been relatively free of drama and trauma.

It wasn’t until the following year that I would be laid off from a position I had held for four years, I’d enter into an emotionally and spiritually unhealthy relationship, and I’d expose my heart to the enemy as I stepped into the role of an online women’s ministry leader.

Yes, that’s right, I exposed my life and my heart to the playground of the enemy by stepping into the role of a ministry leader.  Not exactly the thing of hopes and dreams.

Thirty-one was tough.

That tenderly planted seed of faith that was so eager to grow began to split open.

Did your elementary school teachers ever give you a lima bean to grow?  Weird segue, I know, but hear me out.

I think it was maybe second or third grade, I remember the teacher gave each of us a lima bean, a Ziploc baggie, and a paper towel and told us that we were going to grow a new bean.

Each day my classmates and I would check on our little beans.  We’d carefully remove the paper towel holding the bean and spray it with water before placing it back into the bag, to sit on the sunny windowsill. Within days some of the beans began to crack open, just slightly, and soon enough a tiny little sprout would appear in the opening.  It was a fun experience to watch our tiny beans grow into a full-fledged plant!

Growth in a human heart is often a lot less exciting and often a lot more painful.

I read so many books from thirty to thirty-three… at least three a year for the online book studies that I was hosting, but also so many more that helped me to better understand my faith and the character of Jesus.

One of those books was Beautiful Outlaw: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus by John Eldredge.  I’ve read it cover to cover at least three times and I want to read it again… to remember that everything we see in nature, and everything we see in ourselves, is a reflection of Him.

Eldredge says in the book,
“We interpret Jesus through our brokenness. A painful truth, but also a hopeful truth.”

And by age thirty-three, the same age that Jesus was said to have gone to the cross, I learned more about His character, not through the pages of a book, but through the painful truth of brokenness that I experienced first-hand… this time, not at the hand of another boy, but by fellow Christians.

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.
How do you face disappointment?  One moment at a time.

And that’s how I spent the eleven months that I worked as the Executive Director at a small outreach ministry and retreat center.

I had not even received the keys to my office when the Chair of the Board of Directors called to inform me of some troubling information that had been uncovered about the financial status of the organization.

And with each passing week, new skeletons emerged from the proverbial closet to the point that it was almost comical.  You know, in the way that unless you laugh, you’ll cry.

I was thrust into a situation, not of my doing, but that I was expected to clean up and manage single-handedly, as it was decided that the truth of the matter should not be made public.

So instead of a small tight-knit community, one with a strong foundation in faith, rallying around the organization and me, I was left to spend 70-hour workweeks alone, slaving away at simply trying to keep the place open and functioning.

I was hired based on my previous ministry experience and the new vision that I had to revitalize what was once a thriving place for Christian fellowship and service.  But there was no time to put in place the new vision and ministry into place.

There was only time for triage.

As a result, I found myself on the receiving end of criticism and verbal attacks, not only from members of the community but those who I was supposed to be “walking hand-in-hand in ministry” with.

To say that I was disappointed is a severe understatement.
To say that my confidence and trust in others was shattered is a remarkable truth.

I don’t share all of this because I want you to feel bad for me.

No. I share this because I want to let you know that beauty still exists in the most difficult, dark, and broken of times.

Though I had to fend off teenagers who were shooting squirrels out of the trees right outside of my floor-to-ceiling windowed office.  I was surrounded by the beauty of nature in that space.

And though the walls of that organization held many stories of heartache, including my own, I witnessed a growth in myself – that only heartache and deep grief can produce.  I grew an appreciation and gratitude for the simple things.  The way that the tree branches seemed to dance in the breeze.  The puffy white clouds that seemed so close that I could reach out and squeeze them.  The white flower petals that stuck themselves to my car after a soft rain.

But I also grew in my appreciation and gratitude for Jesus’ time here on Earth.  He didn’t have to come.  I’m sure His throne at the right hand of God is more comfortable than the best Lazy-Boy recliner.  But He still chose to enter into this mess of a world in the least glamorous and rather unsanitary way!

In the heartbreaking reality of my situation, I found a deeper understanding and appreciation for the grieving that Jesus must have experienced in seeing His people, the very ones that He breathed life into, succumb to the ways of the world.

The verbal attacks that I experienced from many in the community made me recall the way that Jesus was also attacked by his neighbors, the people from his hometown that had known him his entire life.  And yet, when He told them His purpose, they threatened to toss Him off a cliff.

Sure a book that touts the characteristics of Christ is a great way to get to know Him.  But there’s nothing like first-hand knowledge of experiencing the same kind of pain and heartbreak.

Now, friends, I’m not telling you to go out seeking it.  But I’m telling you to lean into it. Find Him in those broken places.  Reach for Him when it hurts to keep on breathing.  Know that He’ll meet you there.

Grow through what you go through.

I know that’s a cute phrase to find on coffee cups and t-shirts, but it’s also a way to live your life.

2 Corinthians 1:4, from The Message says,

“All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah!
Father of all mercy!  God of all healing counsel!  He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.”

Friend, don’t remain complacent and stuck.

Continue to look for those small glimpses of beauty.  Because otherwise, you may never know just how beautiful the breaking was, to begin with.

You may never get the supreme opportunity to share your experience and wisdom gained with others and help them move forward through their own hard circumstances.  This life as a Christian is hard and holy work, so don’t miss out on the beauty that can be found in the broken.


This is Episode 04 of the Let’s Grow Podcast and I’m thankful for an opportunity to share another piece of the puzzle that is my life, living, leading, and serving alongside Christ.  If you enjoyed this episode, please leave your review, preferably a 5-star rating, and I’d love to hear from you directly over on Facebook or Instagram.  Just search for Intentional Filling.  I’d love to connect with you.

Our show notes for this episode and others can be found at intentionalfilling.com/podcast and ladies, it would be an honor to serve you through our online book study, coming up on September 13th, where we’ll be studying Jennie Allen’s book, “Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts”.  You can sign up for this free study under the “Grow Your Faith” tab on our website, intentionalfilling.com.

I pray you and yours have a blessed week.  Much love and virtual hugs!

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