Broken: Beauty from Ashes

I want to write about something that’s deeply personal to me as I think about my life in relationship with the Lord and the grace and mercy that He has poured out over me.

In 2 Corinthians 12:8-9, it says, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.  But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

I don’t often share my testimony and I won’t take the time to do it right now, but when people ask me to use a word to describe myself, I often use the word broken. I’m a mess, really. Memories linger but there is little time to process them. I’m not sure I want to process them.  Maybe this is why my husband says I have “battered friend” syndrome.  I’ve been hurt. It’s easier to be a friend on Facebook than it is to manage real friendships off-line.  Friendship is messy.

Laundry abounds, dinner calls, I’m often short-tempered. I find myself frustrated with things that carry no eternal significance. I often forget how blessed I am.

The liar is tricky; he whispers, “What do you have to offer? Look how broken you are.”

Broken. Yes, it’s the voice of the enemy of my soul. It is my burden to carry.

Am I “broken?” Yes, yes I am. I must confess that I often have more questions than answers. I wonder if my children will be broken like I am broken. In my heart, I know they will though… because really, we are ALL broken.



That is why we need a Savior. Jesus came into the World to give us new life. To bring healing. To mend the broken places in our hearts. As I get older, I am learning that being broken is its own kind of beautiful. You see, being broken means I don’t have to struggle with the pain and perfectionism (although I sometimes do) and being broken provides a freedom all on its own.  After all, there can be no glass houses for broken people. There’s no need to compare brokenness either, for we are all broken. Being broken means I’m in need of constant repair, so I find myself at the feet of the One who heals.

There is strength there.

Broken people carry a beauty all their own, and broken people who know they are redeemed and bought with a price are radiant with a light that transcends the pain of this life. Very little in this life compares to the beauty that comes with brokenness.

The beauty that comes from ashes is available to you, just like it’s available to me.

I claim brokenness today.  I claim it to find healing and peace; I claim it to exchange ashes for beauty; to have the one thing that I can’t have without being broken—I claim it for grace. Grace in my brokenness, healing for the broken.

Grace for others.

Beauty for ashes.


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Heidi St. John
Heidi St. John has been married to her husband Jay since 1989. Together they have seven children from toddler to adult and have homeschooled all the way through high school. A favorite conference and radio speaker, Heidi approaches marriage and parenting with humor and grace. Her passion to encourage moms and set them free to be who God has created them to be will bless and encourage you.
Heidi St. John
Heidi St. John
Heidi St. John

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81 Responses to Broken: Beauty from Ashes

  1. CRA says:

    Thank you Heidi! I can’t tell you how many times each week I sit down with your blog for words of wisdom, encouragement, or to take comfort in the fact that I am not the only one losing my mind some days. It is easy to read your wise posts and think that you have it all together and that you can’t possibly be as broken as the rest of us! I think that to truly grasp the gift of forgiveness and the sweetness of redemption, you have to embrace brokenness. Thank you for being so transparent.

  2. Carrie Petersen says:

    Thank you, Heidi for sharing your heart. May our great God give you His strength and His enablement to do all He has called you to do. May He remind you every day that you belong to Him, you are beautiful in His eyes, He has called you by name and cherishes you.

  3. Audrey says:

    What a beautiful and encouraging post. Thank you for sharing this. I can soooo relate and am encouraged about the spin you took on brokenness. We all need healing through God’s grace. May we all embrace it today. His grace is sufficient in our weakness. God bless.

  4. Lisa Siciliano says:

    Thank you for being real! I too am one of the broken. As a pastors wife, I’ve found myself on the rejected end of too many friendships I have poured my heart into. Sometimes I’ve wondered how to continue serving beside my husband and home school my children. Feeling like a failure at all I’ve put my hand to, I too am broken! But my Father is raising up beauty from those ashes, and I’m so very grateful!
    Thank you for sharing your brokenness and beauty, you’ve encouraged me today!!!

  5. Just plain true and beautiful. And it hurts a bit to admit, especially the part where you write about friendship. It is messy, and hard, and I often withdraw as to not be hurt. Sometimes I consider myself a coward and sometimes I strong and brave. And yes, broken.

  6. Andrea says:

    As I read (and listened) to this post, with wine in hand (don’t judge, it was that kind of day), I just wept. I’m so exhausted. The circumstances of life right now seem to choke me. And every moment I try to grasp for air, I feel like I get struck down again. My children are so needy. So defiant. My husband is in a time of rehabilitation. The weight of the world seems to be on my shoulders. And yet, I do find comfort in my Lord…just not enough. I read my Streams in the Desert devotional that seems to be the choice book for this season of my life. I cling to verses and catch phrases that others post on Facebook. But I still feel so overwhelmed and alone. Thank you for continuing to point others to Christ. I pray I am able to leave my worries at the feet of Jesus and allow Him to renew a right spirit within me. I pray He restores my soul before I want to take it back again. Blessings to you, Heidi. And thank you.

  7. Dixie Miller says:

    Thank you for this.. I am sharing this with my daughter who works 2 jobs and is helping raise 2 step children. Hasn’t been able to have a child of her own..she tries so hard to do for everyone.. I know she is broken..She wrote this yesterday and it struck a cord with me..
    “I’ve been told that I worry too much, nag/gripe too much, stress all the time, control too much… No one ever tells me that I work too much, do too much laundry, do the dishes and cook too much, love and care too much, buy them too many things, take care of everyone too much… I want the best for everyone in everything. I wish that’s what worrying, nagging, stressing and trying to control everything looked like. Then everyone would see that I am the way I am because I care. God will teach me the right ways. I’m a work in progress. “

  8. Jen says:

    I had a moment last night where I felt like all I had to offer the world was weakness, lack of strength and failings. This thought is perfect in timing, even though I am reading it more than a full month after it was posted. What a wonderful God we serve, who can speak to us through His written word thousands of years later and through His servants months later. Thank you for this passage and its strength!

  9. I really loved your post yesterday. I am not good with words and you said it perfect . I in no way thought it was glorifying suicide.

  10. Kelly Rae says:

    I thought your post was perfect. Thanks for all you do !

  11. You should have not had to defend yourself in this matter. Depression is awful. What it can lead to even more so. The awareness of Depression is minimal in this world but has to be increased so that we can reach out to those who struggle with this silent disease.

  12. I’ve been on the verge before and am where you are as well. I didn’t see it that way either.

  13. I’ve just read your testimony. Thanks, Heidi. Can I share it? I write a blog about my depression.

  14. Audra Elam says:

    Good for you. Always a class act.

  15. Erin Burgess says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and creating The Busy Mom!

  16. The past few days so much has come out about suicide and depression. It has really made me think about something that I have hidden that very few people know about. When I was 18 I tried to kill myself.When doing it I saw the hand of God stop me from being able to finish. I still struggle to this day but it is a pain I have kept hidden because so many people look down on people we struggle in this way. The only way I have been able to stay afloat in life is knowing that Jesus is always with me. My depression makes me be a quiet person. I do not push friendships and therefore have had many people just walk out of my life. I have friends on FB but really only one friend who calls me on the phone. So when you think you know a person maybe you should think twice. People deal with things that make them look fine on the outside. but may be a total mess on the inside.

  17. I have battled depression most of my life and with thyroid disease it makes it more difficult since depression is a symptom of the disease. Your post did not glorify suicide but called for us to show grace to those suffering through the darkness. I do hope this brings a new focus on the mental health here in the US.

  18. Tanya Stone says:

    How on earth did anyone read into your post that you were glorifying suicide? Some people just want to look for offense. I agree–no need to defend, though on the flip side I totally get it and fall into that trap of trying to justify myself to people all the time.:P So take it from one who has that problem too, just ignore them.

  19. Beth Sowders says:

    I am going through something right now and every single day I contemplate ending my life , it just hurts to breathe , it is a battle every day , my husband and a few friends are my go to people because the rest if my family are pushing me daily to feel this depression ! The only and I mean only reason I don’t end my life is I know that God loves me and that his plan for my life does not include death !!! ………… Your post was beautifully written !

  20. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings in your post yesterday. Also thank you for your testimony and story. I appreciate your willingness to share. I enjoy reading your blog and your comments every day. Thank you.

  21. THANK YOU!!! I have been so upset by some things said in the last couple days about depression and suicide by Christians.

  22. Goodness, I certainly didn’t get that impression from yesterday’s post. I thought it was beautifully written, and perfectly echoed my own thoughts and feelings on the loss of Robin Williams. Many bloggers and reporters chose to argue about various issues and get on their soapboxes, but yours hit exactly the right note. I always appreciate the perspective you give in your blog.

  23. Some people shouldn’t be allowed to be on the internet. People who have harsh things to say need to evaluate themselves.

  24. I loved your article yesterday, I can’t believe you received negative feedback on it! It was transparent, God-honoring, humble and true. I think MANY people were touched by it and I thank you for sharing.

  25. Thank you for your post!!! GOD Bless You!!

  26. Thank you so much for this comment. The Christian world needs to heed your words.

  27. God is an amazing healer. I too have struggled with depression and a few years ago I got to the point I saw no other options. It was not like I had expected. The feelings I had that that time were that was my only option and everything else would be fine. It was a peaceful feeling. I obviously wasn’t thinking straight. In the middle of it all while waiting on the ambulance God said to me you will NEVER do this again. You will NEVER have this desire again. You will understand where others are and have the compassion to help. My depression has gotten bad in the last few months but there was no desire for the end. I heard God’s voice It WILL get better. Hugs to all who have struggled with this terrible disease. It does get better.

  28. Haters are always going to hate but those who need to hear will feel the compassion – and seek to heal….
    Carry on servant of Christ.

  29. Rikki Lary says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, and for your post yesterday. I don’t think you said anything wrong. I too, have battled depression and anxiety since the second grade. I was ruthlessly bullied as a child/teen. I turned to drugs, alcohol, and sex with multiple partners Then 7 years ago I tried to end my life. That’s where I met Jesus. I am so thankful, that my attempt failed. I was given a second chance, and although I still battle, I try and live my life to the fullest every single day. I have an amazing husband who has stood right beside me, for the last 12 years, when he could have so easily given up and walked away. I have two handsome boys that I couldn’t imagine my life without. I am forever grateful for God’s grace and mercy that are new every morning.

  30. It saddens me every time I see a post like this from you defending yourself and an earlier post you have made. Everything you write comes from a deep place in your heart and soul; it’s not superficial observations. To expose yourself like that only to have people take advantage of it so they can try to knock you down and “inform” you of all the parts of your heart and soul that they judge as wrong or not good enough has got to hurt.
    To all the negative posters, Heidi has never once said she is perfect and has all the answers. The blog repeatedly speaks of her brokenness and her sole purpose is to uplift and encourage. If something Heidi says does not uplift and encourage you, then move on… SILENTLY. No one needs to be judged by millions every day. I am sure that Heidi is her own worst enemy when it comes to judging. We sit here and wonder why there is so much depression in the world and why so many people can’t see how wonderful and loved they are. The reason is because one harsh word has the power to cancel out hundreds of uplifting ones. We focus on the horrible things people tell us about ourselves and repeat it back to ourselves often. If Robin Williams’ death saddens you, then do something about it by being sure that the words that come out of your mouth are positive and uplifting. When you feel the need to enlighten someone about their imperfections as you see it, bite your tongue. Bite it until it bleeds if you must.

  31. so well said- blessings to you!

  32. I didn’t see your blog yesterday, but have been so encouraged over the last year by your encouraging posts (the serious and the funny) I know God is using you in the a powerful way in the lives of so many moms. Thank you so much for persevering. Please keep driving on despite the negative feedback. You are a blessing to me!!!!

  33. Thank you for posting this! I struggle daily with depression and the only reason I am still here is because of Jesus Christ’s love for me.

  34. AMEN!!!! I LOVE THAT! it needs our compassion not our condemnation! Powerful and VERY true statement!

  35. My belief in the power and restoration of God is what kept me from ending mine. There are people taking their lives without ever knowing the power of God. Remember you might be the only way someone sees Jesus’s love. There is a hurting world out there and God is counting on us to shine our lights on a hill and not keep it under a bowl!

  36. The writing was beautiful – thank you! It made me remember to be more Christ like in my everyday routines.

  37. Cathy Bage says:

    Thank you for sharing your story!!
    You are in my prayers :) i love following your page!!

  38. I appreciated your honesty words and this post.

  39. Well said! Wish there was a way to privately message you! You are such a blessing!

  40. Heidi — I love that you are so transparent and honest. I am always referring other moms to your FB page. I wish that I could know you in person, because I feel like you are a “friend.” Thanks for all the work that you do to keep this page going, and the strength you find to face each day!

  41. Dana Webber says:

    I heard you in the last poat and i hear you now. And i thank you for sharing!

  42. I just appreciate you so much, such an encourager, thank you!

  43. Stephanie Depuy says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I too am broken. I use to take on the world and all of people’s people’s problems. Then one day I broke. I suffer from debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. I feel it was God’s plan to make me stop and take a step back. I now don’t deal with everyone else and their problems. It might seem selfish but it’s what I have to do. I deal with myself and my intermediate family only. I also would rather have “Facebook” friends also. It’s so much easier. I have let go of many friendships because it is just too messy. Now instead of crying about being broken, thanks to you, I will celebrate being broken.

  44. Praise God for your courage…to share…x

  45. I loved your post yesterday and found it to be loving, compassionate and inspirational, as I find all of your posts to be.

    It is true that those of us who have struggled and/or experienced depression are often the ones with smiles on our faces, and viewed by others as the encouragers and cheerleaders in life. Sometimes it’s easier to give and share what we ourselves feel we need, so God uses us in that way.

    Keep up the great work and know that you are appreciated, as are the vulnerable words you graciously share with all us us via facebook and your blog. <3

  46. You’re the best. You’ve been a real encouragement to me. Your vulnerability is not lost on those of us who ‘get it’. Be well. Keep the faith.

  47. I don’t know how people can make it in this world without Christ.I know I would have checked out a long time ago except for my Lord and Savior.

  48. Rikki Lary says:

    He sure is, Taunya!

  49. When you only see one option, is it really a choice? I think people fear someone unstable enough to take, or contemplating taking, their own life and so want to distance themselves by suggesting that the person made a bad choice. The utter despair Mr. Williams must have felt to take his own life isn’t something we can neatly tie up in a box and ship far away from us. I feel a deep sense of compassion for him. When it happened in my own life, with someone I had a personal relationship with, the shock gave way to guilt, to anger, and back and forth until it came to forgiveness; forgiveness focussed both on him and his decision and my failings that may of contributed to his suicide. I pray for Mr. Williams’ family and to all those who inch a little closer to the edge because “their choice” may now seem like the better option. I’d suggest that the line “talk”to someone” maybe isn’t as powerful as we think in the last stages of overpowering depression, as Robin Williams had said this line himself in an ad. I think we should be educating each other about the signs that loved ones may be able to pick-up on to get the person some help. Once someone is that deep in despair, I think others have to bring the life raft to them and not expect that they will seek it out on their own. Isolating, excessive use of alcohol, talking about violent dreams, were some of things I remember being signs that I ignored.

  50. I did not find your blog post to be at all glorifying suicide.
    I think Matt Walsh & others are confusing grace, understanding & compassion for glorifying & saying it’s okay.
    Sad that they cannot understand the difference.

  51. Wow. This is so true. Thank You for posting, and may God comfort those in need.

  52. Lori Lane says:

    Heidi I loved your post. I have dealt with anxiety and depression my entire adult and I appreciated what you had to say.

  53. I agree; thank you for speaking up.

  54. I pray that people with this horrible illness would seek out a church. To be surrounded in God’s Grace. My heart aches so much when I think they couldn’t cope in this world and not believing what world did they go to? I lost my sister through diabetes and I don’t know where she is…….

  55. I battled severe anxiety for about nine months following a near-death experience with a blood clot that went to my lung–I was diagnosed with PTSD. I used to wonder why it happened and why I suffered the way I did but now I totally get it. Because now, I have a very soft heart towards those who battle this for life. I used to be a “suck it up and think positive” kinda gal and not so any more! Now I know what it’s really like and my heart breaks for those who suffer–and those who suffer so much that they feel death is the only escape. I’m completely better now, but it was the worst nine months of my life. And I’m so sorry for those who battle this for a life time. I am so tired of people who haven’t been through it talking about it like they know anything at all because they don’t.

  56. My mother has struggled with suicidal depression all of my life, and that’s over three decades. She has told me of times when she has come so very close to killing herself, but didn’t because of her testimony of the reality of Christ and the conviction that killing herself would be a terrible sin. I myself have struggled with depression for many of my teenage and adult life, but I have been very blessed to not feel suicidal or to have the urge to self-harming. I still have bad habits (like staying up too late, eating too much, or compulsive shopping – all destructive in less dramatic ways), but knowing that suicide and self-harm are grave sins has kept me from injuring my body, and I realize what a tremendous blessing it is to know that. It has still been a tremendous challenge going through life – some times more than others – but a knowledge of God and of the saving grace of Jesus Christ does give strength and courage in the face of even the worst blackness. My mother is still alive, still blessing my life and that of my sisters and of my own children, and she was and is such a wonderful example of love, service, obedience, faith, and seeking for truth that she is one of my main inspirations to homeschool. And one of my strongest supporters!

    If my mother had not had faith in Christ, she may very well have killed herself years ago, depriving her children of a mother (or perhaps even of life, had she killed herself before having children). She would have denied us the opportunity to learn from her, to delight her personality and nature, and to enjoy her companionship. Dante wrote of suicide as a very selfish act, and I do not share that to be heartless or cruel, but to point out that living when death seems like the most inviting release, is a true act of sacrifice as well as demonstrating a love for what is true and right. My mother’s example has helped me to live, to flourish, to teach my children, and even to endure in my own marriage and relationships when difficulties arise. I know from my childhood that my children do not need a perfect mother to grow into good, honorable people. And children love their mother so fiercely, even with her flaws, and that can bring redemption, too.

  57. Thank you for being strong enough and brave enough to share your testimony on the subject! God bless you!

  58. Your post yesterday was one of the best written that I saw.

  59. Sharing our testimonies brings light to darkness in the lives of others. Don’t be ashamed or afraid. Be real. I have found most people find it refreshing when I share my own skeletons.

  60. I loved your post yesterday

  61. Thanks for sharing your story!!! God hears our cries and prayers every hour of every day!! Continue to cry out to God.

  62. Beth Mora says:

    I love that our stories, our testimonies have one theme; Jesus is the hero! Thanks for shouting out your story Heidi! Blessings sister!

  63. Thank you. I was looking for these words today to explain to someone. Well said. Thank you

  64. Love it!!! Keep standing for what you know is right.

  65. Thanks for being transparent. This is how we overcome… the blood of the lamb and the words of OUR TESTIMONY! Jesus saves and Jesus heals. That is a great thing to share.

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