The Broken Ground of My Life

For a seed to grow it must be planted in broken ground. If a seed is sown on hard ground, nothing will happen. When the ground of our lives is broken during periods of significant trial, failure, and suffering, the seed of faith is able to grow. Life often is unfair and we are dealt serious injury or setbacks and life spins wildly out of control. When we lose control and become helpless, the grace of God begins to work in our darkness. How this works is a mystery; there are no answers. Living peacefully within the mystery without demanding answers is the essence of the spiritual life. But we want answers.

Our false self doesn’t like mystery. The false self is our ego; it cultivates the need for control, for success, and the sense of importance. The ego wants to be in charge. It is consumed with projecting a positive image. Success feeds the ego. The ego hates failure. Yet failure is part of being human; everyone stumbles, everyone falls, everyone sins. Our ego tells us to hide our weaknesses, our doubts, our confusions, our troubling questions. The ego is a mask hiding our true self. The false self, the ego-centric self, wants us to believe that the true self, the self that faces and admits our weaknesses, the self that fails and cries, is bad, because it contradicts our ego image of power, and glory, and success, and perfection…which is unreal. When the ground of our lives is broken by some catastrophe, we are introduced to our true self that is hidden in the shadow of our lives. Our shadow side is a place of tears where we are able to touch something deep inside ourselves. It is a place of fear and loneliness where we feel the need to be touched and embraced and blessed. The shadow self, the true self, is good; it shouldn’t be judged by the false self. The true self welcomes and accepts mystery. The false self, the ego, needs an answer for everything. There are no answers to the really deep, important questions of life. Why did a bright, vibrant ten-year old girl get cancer and die? Why did a 21-year-old man become so hate-filled that he entered a church and shot nine good people to death? What can make a terrorist decapitate someone? We long for answers. The ego demands answers. The broken self is a place of grace which knows there are no answers and surrenders to a higher power. Success teaches me nothing. Failure is the best teacher.

We can’t stand mystery, or failure, or weakness. We would rather hide than face our sinfulness. I hid and ignored my shadow side for a long time; I only wanted people to see the good I was doing. My ego was working overtime to keep everything working smoothly. But in time, everything fell apart. The ground of my life was broken. And in my brokenness, grace rushed in and inner healing began. When our ego image is damaged, it calls us to purify ourselves, to face our weakness, to confront our sin, to acknowledge our emptiness. In my brokenness I became more understanding, forgiving, more compassionate. Despite having written five spiritual books, I really have no answers. Publication is not a sign of holiness. I am simply facing life without any easy answers or formula for imagined happiness, but with eyes wide-open facing the emptiness waiting for a mercy I can’t give myself.


3 Responses to “The Broken Ground of My Life”

  1. 1 Lisa Juriga September 19, 2015 at 5:43 am

    Powerful words and a timely reminder that pride and pursuing our own aspirations are impediments to the grace that God wants to give us. Thank you Gerry for this much needed wisdom!

  2. 2 aliceny September 19, 2015 at 9:47 am

    Thank you, Gerry.

  3. 3 krebsjoan September 19, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    … pure Gerry Straub. Eyes wide open… facing emptiness… waiting for a mercy…. Thank you for this. Interesting that today’s gospel emphasized where & how seeds are sown and take hold (or not). It also mandated: “If you’ve got ears to hear you ought to hear….” And so back to …”facing life.”

    Listen; watch; remain empty while waiting for a mercy; break ground for seeding… be open to God. Thanks Gerry.

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