A lot has been going on this year, and most of it has been tough but also good. One by one, my normal props have been knocked out from under me. I’ve never had so much go on all at once: Some conflict in my family flared up, which is highly unusual for us. My friendship with a very close friend became strained earlier this year, and I’ve lost it for now, although neither of us has yet given up. Some past relational conflicts caught up with me, and I have to apologize for my part in them. My Dad died. The last person I ever thought would leave the church left. And so on. I’m now at that point where I have to do a bit of growing up and face some of my junk, because I’ve been around in one place too long to hide. When you move in and make new friends, you get away with things. After a while, everyone knows you well enough to have a good grasp on your character flaws, and there is really no place to run. I’ve been in one place long enough, and I can sometimes understand the desire to start again with a clean slate – but escaping isn’t always the best option. So, I admit it: I am broken. I am finding new hope, though, in taking the mask off and finding new freedom in vulnerability. It’s not exactly fun but I don’t know of any good alternative. Earlier this year, I dropped my mask with one brother, and both of us were surprised what we found. I’ve repeated that experience now a few times. I am broken. And I thank God that he doesn’t shrink back from brokenness, but instead chooses that very place to show his grace and strength. God is good – and my family, friends, and church aren’t so bad either.