What It Means to Get Down With Jesus

November 10, 2010 | 41 comments

Photo: Frio River, Laity Lodge.

For more than a month, these words have marinated in me. I still can’t find the right ones to tap out on these keys.

Words are stuck — like peanut-butter on the roof of my soul. I’ve been half-afraid to share, because I just know it’s all going to come leaking out again. And it’s going to look messy.

And how does a girl — who spent most of her adult life trying to plug up tearducts — suddenly let it all come pouring out?

What will you think of me now?

Even as I tap these first words, sure enough, I’m leaking.

I’m letting you in on a secret: I’m completely broken.

Or, maybe the secret was already out. Maybe you knew that already, despite the shined-up, have-all-the-answers, got-to-get-it-right kind of girl I sometimes pretend to be.

But I’m not (shined up).
I don’t (have all the answers).
And I rarely (get it just right).

I’m a mess, all right.

I’m the girl whose spiritual journey looks more like a stumble than a faith walk. As I limp down this path, I’m the one with toilet paper stuck to her shoe.

And all I know how to do — the only thing I really ever knew how to do — is to Get Down With Jesus. Because He is closest to me when it’s hard for me to stand.

The only way I know how to find my life, is to lay it all down.


Something broke loose inside me about a month ago, when this Iowa farm wife winged south to Texas to meet friends, to talk about words and The Word.

I came home changed, and my favorite farmer knew right away something was different. He knows what a harvest looks like.

“This weekend was big for you, wasn’t it?” he said, and I cried.

And he cried with me.


Before we flew south, one of the other writers had emailed: “Does anyone have a travel iron?” And none of us did, so I suggested we just show up all wrinkled together!

But when I sat by Ann at supper that Friday night, I wanted an iron … one to straighten all the wrinkles on the inside of me. Would any of these people like me, this Iowa farm wife, so broken and wrinkled?

I wanted to say the right things, but started shattering right there next to Ann, another farmer’s wife. I split right open, and told her what a mess I was, and I think maybe she understood me right then, when I said I’m scared sometimes. This Ann who signs her emails “All’s grace,” she was all grace to me with her wise, soft eyes, her warm smile.

And the other Ann, too, was all grace. We stood outside in the courtyard, talked about the curse of perfectionism, and how it can paralyze a person. She let me shatter just a bit more, right there in her embrace.

And I kept … on …. breaking … all weekend long.

By the time Sunday morning came, I wore all the wrinkles on the outside. The preacher stood by poured-out wine. He stretched out cupped hands, as if they held shattered pieces of a broken life.

The preacher said the only thing we could really ever do with the shards is to hold them up and ask God: “Can You help me with this?”

And I was uncorked — broken in the front row by the broken bread. Things shifted on the inside — like a spiritual moving of tectonic plates. And yes, it felt like a personal earthquake.

I’m still shaking.

Because I’m broken. Just. Plain. Broken. … God and I are getting to know each other more in His putting-back-together-again.

And does this process ever really end … until the new beginning?

I’m Getting Down with Jesus here, and I am changed, day by day. I walk with a limp.

I’m wounded, for good. And it’s good.

It’s so good.

holy experience

Each Wednesday, I join Ann Voskamp in her Walk With Him Wednesday series. This week, she asks how do we GIVE thanks?

And this is all I know how to give. It may not seem much, but it’s all I have. I hold the broken pieces of a life here, and I look up to the Father, and I say: “This is yours. I give you this.”

This is my offering. This is my life.

Photo: I see Ys everywhere (Y for Yahweh). I found this one in a sidewalk crack at Laity Lodge, where I came undone. In Yahweh, all things hold together.

by | November 10, 2010 | 41 comments


  1. Sandra Heska King

    Oh, sweet Jennifer. I'm there with you. I think my toilet paper is tangled with yours. You bless me so.

  2. Julie

    Thank you so much. And this is what this online community is all about. Sharing our brokeness so that we let others know they are not alone in this journey to knowing Him deeper.

    I love your heart.


  3. Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus

    Thank you … both of you. I held my breath today when I hit publish post.

    Thanks for loving me — toilet paper and all. 🙂

  4. Nancy

    Limping with you, eyes leaking. Your broken words bless. More than that, they give glory to the One who meets us in our broken places and is making all things new.

    And know this–if you limped up and sat next to me with toilet paper clinging to your shoe, I would laugh holy resurrection laughter with you!

  5. Graceful

    Jennifer, this is really, really raw and real. You are always real, but here, you take it further and further. I can see (read) the change in you, I can.

  6. Yaya Yarns

    Oh Jennifer, I am not even limping at present. I honestly a not even able to crawl, I am merely rolling along the floor praying that God will pick me up and wash me with the cleansing of His Word restoring me and refilling for this day. Praise God I know that HE will.

    I so desire to have such an encounter with God! I NEED to have friend(s) such as you describe here. Oh what a blessing dear sister…I am alone and today I feel it!

    Thanks for being so open and so honest, and I pray that you will in some way know the blessing and encouragement it is to others.


  7. Kathleen Overby

    Wearing shadows on the outside, instead of on the inside……is getting comfortable with grace. 🙂

  8. Lyla Lindquist

    This thing you do, this only thing you've ever known how to do?

    It's all He's ever wanted.

    "This is yours. I give you this."

    This offering you give, this life you hold out to Him?

    It's all He's ever wanted.

    Do you see His delight in that? In you? It's so there… (I can see it.)

    Thank you, for shaking and quaking and breaking again to write this, my friend.

    (And the cracked sidewalk? It's sealed…)

  9. Wendy Paine Miller

    Broken, wrinkled and wounded a good deal myself. I love despite this He sees me white as snow.

    Love this.
    ~ Wendy

  10. Monica Sharman

    Early in our marriage, my dad gave us an iron and ironing board for Christmas. That was about 13 years ago. I've used that iron, what, about 5 or 6 times? 🙂
    Yeah, what else to give Him but just me?

  11. Tea with Tiffany

    I am with you. Broken, yes. But getting down with Jesus. In His hand we can find rest. I love you from Colorado. Your heart is beautifully broken. I so wish we could meet face to face. Come back to Colorado and I will travel to meet you.

    Precious, you.

  12. jasonS

    We humble ourselves in Him and He lifts us up. We allow His brokenness to come to us so He will put us back together in the proper way. Great post, Jennifer.

  13. Glynn

    It was a special time, wasn't it? It's been almost siz weeks, and it still feels like yesterday. I think all of us changed in some way — virtual becoming real, and the reality was better than the virtual.

  14. Amy DeTrempe

    I have so been where you are with the leaking, wrinkles and probably the toilet paper. But, from the mess God builds a better, stronger and wiser servant. At least I hope that is what he is doing with me.

  15. Ann Kroeker

    Weren't we standing right next to the bathroom while we were deep in conversation about perfectionism? LOVE the toilet paper reference.

    Did I ever tell the story of how I met and chatted with my classy, high-heeled, professional neighbor…and all the while I had a big kernel of corn stuck to my cheek? If anyone is going to have toilet paper stuck to her shoe, it's me.

    And ohmyheavens, I feel like I'm held together with little more than a few swipes of a glue stick. But I'm sealed soundly in the hands of one who will never leave nor forsake me.

    When we are weak, then we are strong.


  16. Real Live Preacher

    That was a very good time together. For me, putting faces to names has helped me feel like these friendships are real.


  17. Beth.. One Blessed Nana

    powerful. personal. i love this Jennifer. it really spoke to my heart today.

    thank you,

  18. KJ

    I know I just talked about "looking at others and assuming they have it all together" or "they are this or that" but, honestly…from reading your blog I DID think you had it altogether…or at least more together than ME. 😉

    So if you admit you are broken I must be shattered. {Ha!}

    I have learned so much from you…your broken self…thank you for sharing. I guess ~ thank you for being broken. Through your journey I am discovering more about my journey…more about ME.

    I too am getting down with Jesus.

  19. Rebecca Ramsey

    Oh Jennifer, I'm broken too. So broken.
    Thank the Lord that He is just what we need, and that He loves us as broken as we are. That He is the expert at picking up and cradling all the pieces, the tiniest of shards.

  20. David Rupert

    to be wrinkled is kind of a cool concept.

    And you know that I too, had a watershed moment that continues. I'm getting down too!

  21. Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus

    Thank you … all of you. You make it feel OK to not be always "OK," you know?

    Yes, Ann, you're right. We were outside the bathroom. Remember Ashley Cleveland coming by and asking why in the world we were still standing there? I so appreciate you. 🙂

    Graceful — Yes, things changed, *are* changing. Thanks for "seeing" me … and loving me anyway.

    KJ — Truly, I am a mess. I'm feeling all Humpty-Dumpty-ish most days, but grateful that the King really can put me back together again. 🙂

    Glynn and David — Yes, it was a special time. I so enjoyed your stories about what the weekend meant to you. It took me a good, long while before I could sit down and really try to tell my story. And I still feel like there are gaping holes, but this is as good as I could do. I went back to both of your comment boxes today to re-feel what I felt when I read your posts….

    And hey, you, Real Live Preacher, ((thank you.))

  22. Soul Writer

    Greetings from another mess. Your powerful words are a blessing to me today.

  23. Linda

    Ah Jennifer – we are all broken together. I sometimes wonder how it is possible I hold together with all of the cracks and missing pieces. I am a broken vessel that He is in the process of making into something useful in His kingdom. You write for me – for all of us who long to do it perfectly and know that only He is perfect and He will just have to do it through us.
    The miracle is that He can and He does.

  24. Jennifer

    "And does this process ever really end … until the new beginning?" No, this brokenness–it never ends. I've been waiting and waiting to feel the wholeness again that I felt six years ago before I gave everything to Jesus–and just when I've grasped it, I come undone again. I'm beginning to think this path towards Jesus is about keeping me broken, on my knees, in the Word. Otherwise, I might think I can function by myself.

  25. Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience


    May I be shattered with you?

    The broken mosaic of your life is absolutely exquisite.

    The words you gave me that night… they were like a fragile gift. Bits of your heart.

    I carry you close…

  26. Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience


    May I be shattered with you?

    The broken mosaic of your life is absolutely exquisite.

    The words you gave me that night… they were like a fragile gift. Bits of your heart.

    I carry you close…

  27. Megan Willome

    Jennifer, Laity does that to people. And it is exceedingly good.

  28. Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus

    Megan … That's exactly what Ashley Cleveland said. 🙂

    I had no idea what I was getting into.

  29. Shaunie Friday @ Up the Sunbeam

    Oh Jennifer,
    I feel this post in my bones! You have expressed it so beautifully and so humbly. I am thankful to be in such good company in the brokenness, and so blessed with witnessing the beauty of your walk. You bless and encourage me so. Thank you for writing so transparently.

  30. lynnmosher

    Oh, Jennifer, you are so precious. What a beautiful heart lies deep within you. Like soft clay taking shape in the Potter's hands. The thing is with brokenness…the Healer comes along and smooths over those cracks, rips, and wrinkles with His loving hands and make you beautiful. You may feel broken on the inside but what spills over on the outside, oh, my…how lovely!

  31. Amy Sullivan

    I love that you are broken. It gives me comfort that deep at the root of them other shiny women, and women I look up to aren't perfect. It reminds me I don't have to pretend.

  32. The Soap Sister

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. I'm limping with toilet paper on my shoe, too…I suspect that many of us are! God Bbless you for sharing, Jennifer.

  33. Dan

    It's odd, in the the meetings before the retreat you struck me as real not broken.

  34. Angie Vik

    I love your sweet honest heart, and the God-given ability to express it. May God bless you and the lives you touch with your love for Him.

  35. Jeanne Damoff

    This is beautiful. Thank you for your honesty. You spoke to deep places in my heart.

    Love, Jeanne

  36. Denise

    May we all throw out our travel irons and wear the wrinkled life well. I find that here each time I visit. Truth, honesty and grace.


  37. Kelly Sauer

    You make me vulnerable too. I am… I have broken, but I wonder… I am glad for the grace you received. I walk out into the world receiving His, wondering what it is to hold it from others.

    This doesn't make any sense. There is too much to say.

    Thank you, for sharing you. Wrinkles or no, I am glad to know I am not alone.

  38. Laura

    I saw the photo and immediately I felt I was home. And I've been wondering if I"m the only one–the only one still thinking of Texas. I can't hardly write, I can't hardly think. I think God just wants me to "marinate" as you say–to remember, feel the full impact.

    Those two Anns–they are so full of grace. How blessed we all were to be able to embrace, to be together in that special place.

    Love you, Jennifer.

  39. Cheryl

    Love this: "my favorite farmer knew right away something was different. He knows what a harvest looks like."

    Yes, that weekend was the start of something significant (or the continuation). I feel it, even now. And one of the greatest treasures was having you as a roommate.

    I love you my friend. Broken, like me.

  40. DenaDyer

    Jennifer, something profound happened there, didn't it? We all felt it. I remember our prayer time together with such fondness and gratitude. I was so sloppy and messy with you–shattered beyond any hope of holding it together. I could do that because I felt safe. I knew you wouldn't judge but that you'd listen and be REAL. Broken people find each other easily…it's like we have a mark (oh, yeah, we do–HIS mark). I'm so, so glad none of us are perfect or even try to appear that way, and that we're holding together more tightly now…with Jesus as our glue!

  41. Argel

    Hi there. Im someone from the Philippines. I felt so broken today, in tears and pain, looking for answers. I googled, and this is where i Jesus lead me. After all the posts, I felt renewed.. there is hope in my life.


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