To let myself be broken and loved...

Every day you can do one thing that you wish you could do for everyone. We will be known for our actual fruits, not the intentions of our imaginations.
Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way, p. 207

The decision was made for me, or I probably wouldn't have gone.  

How could I justify such extravagance? It was too costly. Too complicated, and too far from here to there. I haven't been well in weeks and fatigued from recent back-to-back flares and a trip to Louisiana. For goodness sakes. Even on good days I need help just to open a bottle of water. It's obvious I can't travel alone, and a traveling companion would only multiply the costs. 

Even worse, what if I go and feel too bad to do anything? 

Just in case, I tell my girlfriends--the ones who meet with me weekly to study, There's a one percent chance I'm going to Canada to see my friend Ann next week so I might need to cancel Bible study.  

When Louis bought me a new camera three weeks earlier, I hadn't told him what I'd been thinking. How I'd secretly longed for a new camera and lenses, but the cost was simply too much. Afterall, I thought. I'm no spring chicken. There's too many years behind me and not enough ahead to justify that kind of expense. What would be the point? 

Escalating chronic health issues that aren't responding to the current treatment plan combined with an overall lack of physical well-being left me vulnerable to the lies, and I was sensing a loss of purpose. I concluded that my ability to contribute anything of real value to those around me, much less anyone else, had faded along with my old camera and lens. I hadn't said one word to anyone about wanting a new camera when Louis up and decided I needed one.

Two days after we brought that new camera home, I hadn't taken it out of the box. I probably should return it, I thought. It's a luxury I don't deserve. And Louis tells me to accept the invitation to fly off to Canada and to take Emily with me? 

My Emily makes all the reservations. Roundtrip flights from Ft. Myers to Toronto with layovers in Charlotte. A hotel near the airport in Toronto.

She manages my luggage, opens my water bottles, drives the rental car, and buys me lattes. She keeps me moving, and when my body simply won't keep up, she slows the pace and lets me rest. I'm sure she's embarrassed by her slow old mama with no sense of fashion, but she keeps it to herself.

In Ann's back yard, we sit on quilt-covered bales of hay near the tables of coffee, juice and muffins while Ann gives herself fully to each of her guests. I see how she loves. How she kneels and bends low, gently grabs shoulders and cups faces. She leans into, moves toward and gives everyone her undivided attention. Selfishly I want her all to myself. To sit close and tell her the many ways her beautiful words have changed me, but I wander out to the edge of the field where her writing cabin stands and pluck a dandelion seedhead out of the ground. I hold the downy globe up to the sun and thank God for the gift of this perfect fall day.

If just for that moment, I forget all the ways I feel unworthy of the gift and let myself be loved.

A few miles from Ann's backyard, a welcome sign leans against the outside wall near the doors to the barn. Once inside, Emily and I find seats in the back row of chairs facing the corner stage where Ann reads passages from The Broken Way and Jason Gray sings. They both say the same thing, more or less. The broken are healed by being the broken for others. Tables of hot coffee and cider, plates of cheese and crackers, bowls of apples and popcorn, and trays of sliced pumpkin bread spiraled with cream cheese line the opposite side of the room. It's the most generous hospitality, and Ann stays until the last guest leaves.  

Three days after leaving us at the airport in the wee hours of the morning, Louis returns to pick us up at midnight. Just six short hours later, my dearest, tired Emily is up and off to work, and I open the large manila envelope with a copy of The Broken Way that arrived while I was gone. 

I read late into the night.

As long as I've known Ann, I've believed that she loves and lives like Jesus as much as anyone I know, but I haven't just believed it. I've seen and tasted the fruit of her sacrificial giving and serving and the wholeness she experiences as a result. Ann doesn't preach Jesus, she aims to live a cross-shaped life, and it's Jesus I see in Ann.
Those who claim Christ aren't only saved by a crucified Savior; their lives are shaped by Him. 
The cross isn't some cheap symbol of faith; it's the exact shape we embody as the life of Christ. When we won't see the suffering--who are all of us--we never form our lives like our Savior's.
The Broken Way, p. 268
In The Broken Way, Ann dares us to live #thebrokenway the same way she dared us to count One Thousand Gifts: by tenderly sharing her own brokenness and daring herself to live the cruciform life -- the only path to abundance.

A week ago I went to Canada and let myself be broken and loved... God who whispered in Louis' ear that maybe he should buy me a new camera and send me to Canada, and Louis who heard God's voice and sacrificial ly responds. Emily who patiently cared for her old mama and gave me the gift of time and presence. Ann and her family who opened their home to strangers and gave the gift of  hospitality and words of love and affirmation and a renewed sense of purpose in the dare to live #thebrokenway.
The only life worth living is the life you lose.

The Broken Way, p. 209
Join me on this path into the abundant life #TheBrokenWay? Click on the photo below and check out all the free gifts you'll receive by pre-ordering a copy of The Broken Way by Monday.

I'm pretty sure there's one thing I can do today for someone that I wish I could do for everyone.