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Shattered Windows

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Words by Chelsea Vaughn // Image by Izzie Rae

I am sitting here waiting for the police to arrive at my house and inspect the shattered window to my beloved car. After a recent move it was filled with boxes of old and treasured books, making it a perfect target for burglary. While I sat laughing with friends, a stranger was breaking into my car right below us, turning what should have been a safe haven into a place of vandalism. I am overwhelmed with thoughts, with questions, with sadness. I don’t feel fear, and I don’t feel anger, but that makes me all the more pensive as I wait. This situation doesn’t make me think realistically, but rather spiritually—about the devastating truth that this world is out of control.

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I have had some good friends, but I have had deep disappointment in my friends as well. When I was very young, my two best friends decided to pair up and bully me. They were patronizing, hateful, and careless in regard to our previous friendship. I was so confused, and left wondering how people could betray an innocent soul. That was the situation in which my trust in people was fractured, and my heart was left in shards, completely vulnerable.

In the following years, numerous close friends hurt or betrayed me similarly. My heart never exposed this brokenness, but became hardened with resentment and distrust. I learned how to quickly clean the surrounding glass without repairing what had been shattered. The hurt was ignored for so long that it became part of me. This insecurity bred sinfulness as I prided myself in strength and independence. I told myself I didn’t need people to know me, and I believed it. I was confident in this one thing: if I allowed someone to know me then they would betray me.

I became desperately lonely, but chose to disregard any feeling of sadness or loneliness. My pride told me that I couldn’t trust people, so I chose emotional isolation. In storms, wind and rain would seep into the broken window of my heart, which made it even messier. In these times, I could feel a sting in the broken place of my heart, reminding me that it was still there. Yet I held fast to my personal doctrine: “You’re stronger than other people. You’re independent. You don’t need them.” I believed these things, and spitefully chose apathy over loneliness. My submission to God was halfhearted as I chose to only display the intact windows of my heart.

Recently one friend noticed my isolation. They questioned my distance, and called out my lack of trust. I felt exposed and vulnerable, which led to deep discomfort. I wrestled with this discomfort, and unpacked some seriously wounded places in my heart. I recognized that my apathetic nature was sinful, and ultimately a result of unhealed pain. I rejected God’s healing because I was fearful of handling shards of glass. Finally, I decided to acknowledge my brokenness and invite faithful community to see all the windows of my heart, not only the intact ones. This community is guaranteed to hurt. However, I believe that we experience the authenticity of the cross when we share in the blood.

“For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.” (1 Cor. 1:5–7)

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As I approach my car and my shoes crush shards of glass, I am perplexed. Initially I think, “Why would I be so stupid to park over glass?!” My eyes lift to the scene of shattered glass and wreckage in the same place where there was once a protective shield. My heart sinks at the sight of this chaos, but my spirit cries out in identification. I know this feeling, this physical representation of my own brokenness. What saturates my soul is not fear or anger, but rather deep sadness—sadness that surpasses a car window and reaches into the depths of my own heart. How can someone intentionally hurt another being? It’s so wrong, it’s so defeating, and it’s a reflection of our sinful nature in so many ways. Our sin impacts our neighbor, whether we see the repercussions or not. But the thing is, we are not defined by sin, we are defined by the cross and resurrection of Jesus. He is the one who defeated sin in order to give us life, and call us to eternal hope. This eternal hope repents, forgives, and rejoices in abundant life. This kind of life acknowledges hurt, and embraces God’s promised healing.

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Eph. 4:30–32)