Two weeks ago, I’ve decided to stay home on Saturday since I’ve been out on after-office meetings the whole week. It actually gave me the time I needed to catch up on podcasts I subscribe to but barely listen. That time I listened to Timothy Keller, and his message was a bit (well, actually it was a lot) sobering. He talked about having a crushed spirit – its priority, complexity, solitude and how to heal it.
“The human spirit can endure in sickness,
but a crushed spirit who can bear?” – Proverbs 18:4
Before, I would often find myself in seasons where I feel disconnected with everyone – that “nobody understands” me or what I’m going through, and people who attempt at doing so will most likely fail. During these seasons I would just lie in bed – confining myself in isolation but at the same time waiting for someone, somewhere to reach out. I would check my phone every so often if anyone sent me anything that would have the slightest semblance of care or concern. I’d have my headset on to drown out both silence and noise while I draw for hours on end, trying to sketch on paper whatever it was that weighed my heart down – struggling to have visual recognition, hoping to make some sense out of it.
Other times I would be in the middle of the crowd, yet still feel detached – often wanting to withdraw.
In all honesty, sometimes I still experience these phases.
I remember one friend back in college telling me, “I wanna understand how you think.” I answered, “Don’t. You’ll go crazy.” I was serious when I said it because sometimes I, too, would reside with the notion that I don’t and can’t understand my own self. All I know is that something was wrong, but I couldn’t determine exactly what it was.
Perhaps back then, I had a broken spirit – one that put its hope on things it knows will eventually be gone, one that I tried to bear but couldn’t. I had a spirit that was confused, disillusioned, and bruised; a spirit longing to receive loving arms and kind words but found none, wanting to give but found no one. I had a spirit that was weighed down, deferred of hope; a spirit that was completely and utterly alone.
In our efforts to heal our broken spirits through self-help books that either ignore or deny the intricacy of our very being – reducing us by focusing only on either our physical, emotional, relational, moral, faith or existential aspect, we discover all the more the truth of our solitude. One may relate to another, but one can never fully understand another.
Perhaps Keller is right – that by consequence of our uniqueness and complexity, we are absolutely and inconceivably alone. That by virtue of our innermost longing to have something to hold on to – things that are supposed to bring us peace, security and the desire to live, and at the same time knowing deep down that everything in this world will pass away, having a crushed spirit is both inevitable and unbearable.
That is, until God steps in.