I’ve tried so hard to cover it up so that no one can get close to it.

With our culture’s emphasis on perfection, I’ve found myself becoming perfection crazed. However, when I see a friend on the street who is openly broken, I’m immediately put at ease. Because I’m broken. I’m broken and don’t want to admit it.

But with the poor there is no hiding.

When I spent time with the homeless as a Christ in the City missionary, I felt like I was caring for Jesus.

Whether that was consoling a wounded and bruised friend on the street who had fallen down drunk the night before, accompanying a pregnant woman back to her shelter before curfew, or sharing a laugh with a friend who told a joke he was really proud of, my brokenness was revealed. Through sharing such intimate experiences with my friends on the street, my brokenness was not only revealed, but consoled.

Encountering the brokenness in others – that which I’m so afraid of in myself – not only puts me at ease when found in others, it allows me to see Christ more clearly in the other person.

The homeless are who they are. No pretenses, no masks. And they radiate Christ’s presence.

Yet today, over two years after my missionary year, and with little contact with the poor, I’ve almost lost the conviction that Christ abides in each person. Not just in the good parts that we are proud of, but the parts that we resent, that we keep from others, that we cover up and run away from.

The humility, vulnerability and weakness of the poor makes me take a step back. It reminds me of a young, simple girl carrying the Christ child. It reminds me of a hard-working man feeling like a failure as he couldn’t provide a warm place for his wife to give birth to the son of God. It reminds me of a strong man’s weakness carrying the cross and falling under its weight.

Maybe I don’t need to be afraid of my brokenness.

And maybe I can learn to recognize Christ in others who aren’t outwardly broken. And slowly help them let their guard down, to be their authentic selves

In a culture so worried about failing, maybe we should give it a try. Maybe we should let our brokenness and weakness be visible for a minute and give someone the gift of being able to love us.

Makena served with Christ in the City from 2015-2017. She enjoys painting, speaking Spanish, and rolling down hills.