What Your Broken Places Are For

July 13, 2012 | 15 comments

I stood in the doorway of our little red barn, that dark, windowless shanty on the edge of the cornfield. I stared into the pitch, into a hollow space that has no light of its own. Two calves, bedded down in the straw, shifted in the darkness.

I pressed my back against roughhewn, cracked boards. Felt peeled paint on my palms. Moved my eyes around that one crooked, cracked, broken room.

This is the grinding toll of time on all things in this world.

Life happens. Hard-knocks hit, even in barnyards.

And so I just stood there, with one foot in the dark and one in the light, with my shadow falling on a shadow. And I am a barn. A middle-aged barn on the edge of a field. 

Got no light of my own. Cracks at the seams, you know? And fissures split a woman in places where she never would have guessed — in places where she thought she was unbreakable.

But life happened.

Things got sick. Or moved away.  Or died. Went empty for some long stretches. Years passed, and cracks grew deeper. Some of the broken parts got patched. But others? Well, it didn’t always seem worth covering up what you couldn’t really hide anyway.

But it wasn’t all bad, in that barn. No, it was mostly good. But even the best parts broke her a bit. Maybe that’s what they call “character.”

I looked around that barn, to see splinters, unpatched holes in the walls, and a few gaping cracks that were left that way on purpose. Because you can’t fix everything.

And then, that bright orb popped up over the field, and over the tassling corn, warming the side of one peeling barn, and chasing away darkness on the inside, sliding down boards and pooling all around the inside. And all that light, it came in, and in, and set one dark shanty ablaze with ray upon ray.

The glory shone all around, straight through the cracked places. And I knew it was better this way.

light in dark

You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light.

~ Psalm 18:28

The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.
~ Isaiah 60:19

The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
~ John 1:5

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
~ Romans 13:12

by | July 13, 2012 | 15 comments


  1. kelli

    Oh, how I love this!!

    You have captured the barn experience perfectly here. I am right there with you, broken places, “can’t fix everything” places, all of it.

    And yes, it is better this way.

  2. ro.ellott

    Beautiful…what would we do without His Light…His redeeming light…so pure…pure enough to burn away…pure enough to heal…and yes…isn’t that cracked places where His light can shine the most.
    Have a great weekend…I pray you are getting some of this rain we have….blessings~

  3. Jillie

    Oh Jennifer…How I pray His Light shines out through the many cracked and broken places of my life. It’s like Beth Moore says…we are wounded. He heals the wounds, but leaves the scars. Then we use our scars to minister to the wounds of others…helping them to heal. There is a good purpose for every thing we go through. He can, and will use them if we will allow Him to. (Have you had rain?)

  4. SimplyDarlene

    Indeed miss JDL!

    I’m working my way through a nancy Leigh DeMoss book series… Brokenness. Surrender. Holiness. Of course I started with the last in the series, but now am working my way through the first two. I just wanted to see the Light first.

    Thank you for making note of the holy throughout your day, our day.


  5. Elizabeth

    Oh how I love this piece. Jennifer you capture my heart with your words, again, today. God bless you and thank you for sharing your gift. You bless me.

  6. Chelle

    This is a beautiful piece you have written. You explain the broken places…the cracks…the empty…so well! And the healing light of Jesus. Wow!

    Thank you for sharing this.

  7. Brandee Shafer

    Lovely. And I’ve always loved that Cohen quote…

  8. Gramma T

    You took me back again to my childhood and the old buildings. They had such character, even when the barn was falling in and almost to the ground, we still saw a purpose in using it to take family pictures in the empty windows. We now have picture frames and boxes made from the lumber from the barn on our tables. We are like that aren’t we? Always building character and hopefully God can use us no matter what our age or position.

  9. Deborah

    you’re speaking directly to me today…. thank you for connecting. Love. Blessings. Thanks. X

  10. Megan Willome

    “And fissures split a woman in places where she never would have guessed — in places where she thought she was unbreakable.”–Yep. That’s where I am right now.

    Love your barn imagery. Last weekend my dad, brother, nephew went to see the old homeplace, and they took lots of pics of the old, broken-down barn. Not red–brown.

  11. Linda

    Word pictures can be such an effective way to express truth coupled with experience. Thank you for this one. The photo and quote was great too. To have new ways to express brokeness, suffering and refinment is a blessing.

  12. Jennifer

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the way you have with words!!! Thank you for this. It reminds me of the “soul wholes” (or something like that) that Ann Voskamp spoke about in her book…Until now, I couldn’t picture it, but you illustrated it so beautifully in my mind. You are blessed with an awesome gift. Thanks for sharing it!

  13. floyd

    Yeah, character. That’s it. With time we all withstand the elements, physical and spiritual… and they leave scars. Some of them need to be left to be seen so that we can remember the storm of that particular year and how God brought us through.. kind of a war metal so to speak.

    Excellent post. My heart feels your words.

  14. Christina

    Hi Jennifer,
    This is my first time visiting your blog, and let me just say first of all that I absolutely love the blog design – simply gorgeous. Secondly, I so love your honesty and transparency and look forward to reading more. This one is definitely being added to my favorites.

  15. Christina

    One more thing..this post reminds me of this quote I discovered yesterday “There is nothing, naturally speaking, that makes us lose heart quicker than decay—the decay of bodily beauty, of natural life, of friendship, of associations, all these things make a man lose heart; but Paul says when we are trusting in Jesus Christ these things do not find us discouraged, light comes through them.” The Place of Help, 1032 L


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