Today’s Word: ‘Jenga’ as in… the derivative from ’kujenga’, a Swahili word which means “to build.”

Not long ago I shared a very vulnerable moment with some friends, talking through some challenging life experiences that were both deeply painful as well as redemptive. Suddenly I felt deep emotion welling up inside of me and in the next moment I was bent over with my face in my hands. Tears of both brokenness and gratitude were spilling out, flowing down, not stopping anytime soon. My friends gathered around me, held me close, and prayed. A couple days later while reflecting on that experience with another friend who had been with me, I casually referred to “the other morning when I ‘fell apart’ with the group.” He stopped me and then challenged me to think again about the phrase I’d used: “fell apart” and wondered if that was actually an experience of being very much “put together.”

It is interesting how we characterize those times negatively: “I lost it!” I fell apart!” “I came apart at the seams!” “I broke down.”

It’s like we’re playing what I call emotional Jenga.

We’ve got ourselves built up just right; we’re solid, square with the world around us; very neatly put-together. Over time though, we lose a piece here, we misplace a piece there, we have a few chunks knocked off along the way until that point where we begin to wobble. All it takes is one little bump and over we go. My friend asked me to think differently: maybe when we “lose it”, “fall apart”, “come apart at the seams” and “break down” we’re really describing what it’s like to be in touch with the deeper, healthier places within our hearts, souls, our guts—wherever those deep places are within us that we work so hard to protect.

When we’re able to share that kind of vulnerability with one another, that level of honesty, maybe that’s a profound sign of being built strong.


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