They Do Exist.

From A Man: On Love, Insecurity, & Falling For Broken Girls.

Editor’s Note: This might be one of my favorite posts we’ve ever published. It was submitted by Luke Hassevoort. You can find him on Twitter at @LukeHassevoort. Men, if you’d like to submit this month but you don’t know exactly what, consider choosing one of the questions women have been asking to write on. – Lauren

A friend once asked me, “Do you always fall for broken girls?” It wasn’t a question I needed to think about for long. I do fall for broken girls, and caring about them has resulted in a lot of pain.

I’ve used the word “love” far too casually in my life. It’s not that I think you shouldn’t use the word love to describe the way you feel about someone, or that there is something inherently wrong about using the word love as liberally as you find comfortable; God knows the world needs it. But I think I’ve abused the word. Love is powerful, it is profound, it is a word that builds and enriches. Yet love is not some simple salve to mend wounds, it is so much more than that, and deserves to be so much more than that.

Far too often I have used the word love out of desperation, afraid of losing something that was never really mine to begin with. And in my desire to express my deep affection and in hopes of drawing in that which I loved, I cheapened the word, made it into a plea. I thought, if I could only entice this girl with that word, she might not leave.

But that’s not the way things work.

And when you throw that word out and it’s left hanging in space, that’s a painful thing. It makes you feel as if the bottom of the world dropped out and you’re left standing on nothing but a history of similar mishaps and missteps. In a very real way, we begin to see our present and our future as a prolonged and tragic enactment of our past. I don’t think we feel despair because of the hurt in our lives; I think we feel despair because we’ve lived the same story on repeat and see no possibility of living a different one.

We are indescribably insecure.

For the longest time I’ve tried my best to ig50nore this insecurity, this brokenness. Instead, I focused on the brokenness of girls I loved. In them I recognized something I felt in myself but was too afraid to fully acknowledge. And in a very real sense I was under the delusion that if I could only heal them, make them feel as if they mattered, it would somehow heal me.

But that’s not the way things work.

Sometimes people don’t want to be healed, and sometimes they want to be healed but you can’t do it. And when you can’t, you begin to wonder, “Do I matter?” It’s incredibly difficult to watch someone struggling with despair, or anxiety, and it’s even worse when you get it in your head that you can fix things and rewrite their history in a way that leads them out of that dark place but the truth is you can’t.

It’s really bad when you’re in that dark place yourself and need to be healed but don’t know it.

By focusing on the brokenness of others we make it easy to forget about our own. We compare our struggles, and if we don’t judge ours as measuring up to the suffering of others we discredit it, write it off as insignificant when it isn’t.

I’ve had my fair share of relationships that have ended in pain. I know the feeling of walking home alone, wondering when the reality of the situation would sink in and the overwhelming sense of isolation would build its walls around me. I know the months afterwards when the presence or absence of the sun does not determine the greyness of the skies. No amount of pain is insignificant. And though we try to make it less than what it is, we do it because we’re afraid of the stark reality that sometimes life is filled with loneliness. This is a hard thing to accept, and often something we don’t want to believe about a world created by a loving God.

Jesus knew this better than any of us.

As he was being crucified, he called out, “Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” We are given a profound picture of Christ feeling the weight of our sin, and for the first time, experiencing the separation from God that we are born into. Jesus, wrenched from the arms of his Father, crying out, giving a voice to the loneliness we all feel.

What has become apparent to me is the fact that most brokenness and hurt comes from a place of monophobia, the fear of being alone. While we might say we want answers from those that hurt us, or reasons why we are where we are, those things ultimately leave us in the same place.

What does heal us, however, is presence. Simple, unconditional, presence. This is another thing I learned from the friend who asked me if I always fall for broken girls. She taught me that it was okay to be broken, and in some strange way that I don’t fully understand, in our brokenness we can still be complete.

It was never the case that I saw myself as more put together, or more whole than these girls I cared about; it was simply that I wanted them to never feel that brokenness themselves. Now, I think brokenness is what brought us together and what continues to bring me closer to those around me. It creates a sense of recognition and relationship, but one that takes a lot of work. Pain builds walls, walls less like simple wooden fences between neighbors and more like mountain ranges between strangers in a foreign land. It is the job of love, not to break the walls down, but to scale them and, over time, extend a hand to the stranger on the other side. And when that stranger takes your hand in theirs, it can be the most beautiful thing in the world.

It has been my experience that women are better wall builders than men. But they are also better wall climbers. They know how to expose the scars on their arms and line them up with yours, not caring that they don’t match, just making you feel like yours aren’t so hideous.

Accepting that is something that I’m learning, slowly, and I hope my sisters can continue to teach me and my brothers about the beauty of brokenness.

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30 Responses

  1. This is such a beautiful post.

    Having just gone through a break up & looking at feelings of brokenness (on both ends) this seriously resonates. It also seems like something that I have noticed in a LOT of relationships lately. One or both partners being broken…

    I pray we all understand and appreciate the beauty of brokenness and running to our Father.


    March 7, 2012 at 5:36 am

  2. leeleegirl4

    This helps shed some light onto why I always used to fall for guys who were needy and a little insecure. I wanted to fix them and I couldn't. Now, on the other side of heartbreak, I want to find someone who is strong. Even more than that, I want to find a guy who knows how to be strong in the Lord's strength.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:50 am

  3. Luke- as a guy who has been thinking about some of the things you write about in this post, I appreciate how you have brought it all together. A large of life IS dealing with our loneliness, and dealing with our own brokenness.

    A well-written, well-thought out piece.



    March 7, 2012 at 10:18 am

  4. Wow. How honored I am that you have chosen to share these powerful words with us today.

    Your grasp of and ability to articulate the interplay of brokenness in our lives and relationships is a gift; thank you.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:30 am

  5. It is my privilege to share. This is such and honest and loving community. Simply brilliant.
    And I'm glad my thoughts speak to others, it's a comfort.

    March 7, 2012 at 2:18 pm

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  7. love this. what a beautiful post. thank you for sharing!

    March 8, 2012 at 4:48 pm

  8. Johanna Wayne

    This post of yours is very meaningful and I was able to relate with some of the information that you have shown here. VZ 58

    March 14, 2012 at 12:19 pm

  9. Aoife

    Thank you for this, for not shying away from loneliness and brokeness but facing them head on. I needed to be reminded of this today.

    June 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm

  10. Jeremy

    I am just. Only because a man's life have made it so. Thankful that man, Jesus, used you, Luke, to put a new-spin on my justified life.

    Never have I read remarks from a man, other than God, that have pushed back the walls on my beliefs. Those counter-culturally aspects are difficult to navigate but were inter-mediated by you amazingly.

    Honestly, I spend most of my time refraining from committing to one perspective or another on gender issues. And have an especially harsh, unloving attitude towards my bretheren. However, these remarks have made it easier to identify with a resounding truth. I am going back to read it again now.

    Thanks, Jeremy

    September 20, 2013 at 1:57 am

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    May 6, 2014 at 11:03 pm

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