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The Illuminated Life: The Beauty of Brokenness

April 30, 2014

The Illuminated Life Series

The Beauty in Brokenness

by Angie Tolpin

Have you ever been broken?

In today’s culture, when something is broken, we often think of how to fix it; and if it seems unfixable or simply just too much work to repair, we turn to replace it.

And without realizing it, we associate the thought of uselessness with brokenness.

In our relationships, we attempt to hold ourselves together, so as not to appear broken, don’t we? We want others to like us, to value us, to want us on their “team” or as their friend; so we portray our usefulness.

But Brokenness, as modeled by our Savior Jesus Christ, is a process leading to FREEDOM…

The Process Begins Ugly

Have you ever felt the wave of pressure crashing in on you? Like a wave in the ocean knocking the breath right out of you. And just when you think you have your balance, you find yourself caught in an undertow.

Or maybe you have experienced physical suffering, disease, or illness? Long suffering is a unique valley with lessons all of it’s own. The emotional, spiritual and mental battle of facing death is unlike any other in life. It is in these trying times you face the ugliness of how much you love your own life and can find yourself entangled in the despair of wrestling with the defeating lies of the enemy. But it is also in these seasons, that the Christ-follower, the true disciple, finds immense spiritual growth through survival of the valley. It is through facing fears and the possibility of death with Christ that one can be challenged to truly examine the purposefulness of their own life and find a new vision for living out the rest of their days as intentional as possible; with a renewed hope and determined spirit to live as if not to waste a day or moment.


Most have experienced a brokenness that comes through relationships.

Maybe you have experienced pain in a relationship. And maybe, just maybe, that pain was unjustly burdened on you. And no matter what you say or do, it will never be good enough to atone for what you have been accused of. Or maybe not. Maybe the brokenness in your relationship was self inflicted by the pursuit of self focused desires. The judgement from another, whether just or not, is painful. It has the power to break the heart and spirit.

Brokenness begins with walking through some form of pain. And when in pain, it’s hard to think on anything but the pain.

Suffering, as defined by Elisabeth Elliot in The Pathway Through Suffering, is having what you don’t want, or wanting what you don’t have.”

She writes, “There are many voices to advocate escape from suffering through drugs, divorce, abortion, euthanasia, suicide. “How far we are, writes a friend of mine, “from saying with St. Paul, ‘All I care for is to know Christ, to experience the power of His Resurrection and to share in his sufferings… {Phil 3:10}”

In my short life of 34 years, I have been privileged to walk through many rough, trying times with my Lord, both physically and relationally. I say privileged, not because it was enjoyable. Quite the contrary, facing death, your own, your loved ones, tests your faith in ways no other experience in life can.

I remember when I was a young newlywed, we would go to our little bible study group and hear the prayer requests of those in our group and I felt so blessed. We really didn’t have much to ask for prayer for. We were happy and content. Life’s circumstances seemed to be manageable and “normal.” But this part of me wondered, how long can this keep up? As I witnessed friends walk through miscarriages, losing jobs, divorce, and death, I saw two distinct paths. One which leads toward growth {in the Lord} and one which leads towards more suffering and harmful consequences. I prayed that if I was to ever experience a rough journey, I would be able to praise Him, even when it isn’t easy. THat I would bring Him glory even in undesirable circumstances. That I would remain more than faithful, but fully reliant, shining His light to those who see.

Little did I know that the next 14 years would have both opportunities to praise Him and opportunities to choose to shine His glory through the beauty of brokenness.

You see, being broken is beautiful. It is when we experience the hardest of circumstances and still praise Him that He is Magnified. But it requires us being willing to be vulnerable. First with God, so He can be in us and then shine through us. And then second, with others so that they can witness His works in us. 

“You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the Living God, not on tablets of stone but on tables of human hearts. 

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit.”

2 Cor. 3: 2-6, ESV

It is when we choose to learn in the midst of the hard times that we grow and are sanctified. And when we allow our stories to be told, and comfort another, the Lord is redeeming again those hard times we have gone through, to encourage another.

This concept is at the heart of why I wrote Redeeming Childbirth. I had not had easy pregnancies, in fact, they were very difficult. But in those seasons of childbearing, I grew spiritually leaps and bounds despite the hurdles and suffering. The crazy thing, was that because these stories were centered around what is often a very controversial topic among women, I was scared for years to share with others what the Lord had been teaching me. I was scared of people misunderstanding me, judging me. So writing these testimonies, sharing my heart and soul experiences with the Lord through both pregnancy and childbirth, took me being willing to be broken before the Lord and do something I was so scared to do.

But it was in that brokenness, that He has been glorified. Not me. I had it on my mind to bring Him honor and point others to Him during a season that often compartmentalizes Jesus out. I was willing to let others hear and read of His faithfulness through hard times and good times. And along the way, He chose to bring others along for the journey sharing their stories along with me on the website.

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He who refreshes others, will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25

Today we need more men and women intentionally seeking to bring glory to the Father through hard circumstances, trials and sufferings. We need to understand that it is our calling as the disciples of Christ. It is part of the process of making disciples, to share in the triumphs Christ has done through our afflictions. 

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise;God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.  And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Cor. 1:26-31, ESV


1453449_592244067509877_1259623203_nAngie describes herself as an ordinary woman with an extra ordinary God who happens to have quite a sense of humor. After believing she was called to celibacy and missions, the Lord brought Isaac into her life. Now after 14 years of marriage they have six children, a couple businesses, and live on their small hobby vineyard in the Pacific Northwest. “I believe my greatest mission is my marriage and family. Leaving a Legacy of Kingdom Focused Impact is the vision for our family, so my plate is pretty full with just that.”
Angie is the author of “Redeeming Childbirth: Experiencing His Presence in Pregnancy, Labor, Birth and Beyond” and the “Redeeming Childbirth: Growth & Study Guide.”
Pop over to visit Angie:
@Leaving a Legacy or Redeeming Childbirth
You can find Angie on Facebook,
Twitter: @AngieTolpin and Pinterest
One Comment leave one →
  1. April 30, 2014 8:40 am

    Thank you for hosting me here on your online home Adelle. I hope that those who a weary, tired, in pain, or struggling in circumstances that humble them can be encouraged by this post.

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