Finding Worth in Brokenness with Toni Collier

Finding Worth in Brokenness with Toni Collier

When the foundation of what we have built for our family gets destroyed—whether it be from divorce, the trauma of a death in our family, or the unexpected life-altering news that you’re going to be a single parent—it can lead to a real sense of despair. For many of us, it’s a real stretch to have a sense of worth amidst brokenness because it feels like all we have left are the scraps of what used to be. We’re exhausted just trying to piece them all together again. It’s in these moments that God comes close to our broken heartedness. But how do we actually sense that empowerment when we’re struggling just to get by? 

Today, we’re diving into the topic of finding worth in our brokenness with Toni Collier. Toni is the founder of Broken Crayons Still Color, a women’s ministry dedicated to helping women find hope out of their brokenness. She’s also the author of a brand-new book, Brave Enough to Be Broken, speaker, and host of the Still Coloring podcast.

You don’t grow up imagining that darkness would ever enter your story. You grow up imagining the best life for yourself. And for Toni, that was exactly the case. She grew up with her parents married and always imagined she would have a beautiful, flourishing marriage and children too. 
You have all of these beautiful expectations of goodness and then darkness enters into your story. 

Hitting Rock Bottom

At some point in our solo parent story, many of us experience a rock bottom place. Where hope and redemption feel so far off and hopelessness and unworthiness takes their place at the forefront of our minds and hearts. 

Toni talks about her experience of hitting rock bottom and feeling broken and unworthy. “I was at the bottom of my stairs, curled up in a ball and pleading with God, ‘What happened?!’” Toni didn’t feel like redemption was even available to her. She felt a heavy sense of hopelessness. “It’s the thing that crushes us and says, ‘There is no better tomorrow. This is the end. You’ll always be in this valley. Redemption is not for you. Hope will never fill your veins again.’ When those are the thoughts and feelings circling our minds and hearts, it’s no wonder we feel unworthy. “Because if there is no real hope for tomorrow for a better future, for redemption, then what it really means (the lie that the enemy tells us) is that it’s because we’re unworthy, we’re not worth it, and we’re not worth redemption.”

But finding that rock bottom place doesn’t happen without hardship and trauma. And for Toni, she’s experienced so much of both: being sexually abused, losing her virginity to an older man at 13 years old, taking care of her paralyzed mother, dealing with a verbally abusive father, falling into drugs and alcohol, suffering through an eating disorder, and so much more. And after all of that, she ended up marrying a verbally abusive man. 

One day, she looked her daughter in the eyes and saw fear for the first time and knew they had to go. After getting saved at a church, she felt her life was finally turning around. “But the truth is, we can be holy people and not whole people. So there I was, completely broken. I decided to get me and my daughter out. I decided to go forward with the divorce, and also realized I was at a spiritually abusive church and transitioned from that community. I was just alone. And it just hurt from every angle.”

Spotting the Lies of the Enemy

In Toni’s book, she talks about keeping your eyes on the enemy and how attacks come in three different ways. The enemy tells us that we are unworthy, less than others, and that we don’t need help. And all three are equally destructive. 

Believing we can handle life on our own without help is such a scheme of the enemy. It keeps us isolated, hidden, and carrying too much that we were never meant to carry. “What inevitably happens is that we get into these shame cycles where we’ve convinced ourselves that we should be able to do this life alone, we should be able to handle this. Out of the lie that we should be able to carry it, shame sets in when we’re not (handling it well). Then shame gets us into this cycle of hiding, and then we don’t reach out for help. It’s like this perpetual cycle.”

And when it comes to being unworthy, the enemy tells us that we deserve our lot in life. The enemy tells us, “You’ve done too much in your past. You deserve this divorce. You deserve to be a single parent. Your mistakes make you unworthy.” But that’s all a lie. 

But we have to press through those lies. When we keep our eye on the enemy and when we’re aware that we have an enemy, we’re better able to prepare ourselves for those attacks. “When I’m aware that darkness wants to steal the light from my story, I am more prepared to go to battle.”

The Key to Success Is Surrender

Another lie we can easily fall into as humans is that we must pursue perfection. But in her book, Toni reminds us that “the key to success is surrender.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 outlines it beautifully: “We can boast all the more gladly about our weaknesses so that Christ’s power will rest on us.” 

For Toni, surrendering her brokenness through vulnerability with others has fueled her sense of worth. “Because I’m like, ‘Look at what I endured? Look at what God carried me through!’ Even more than that, I’m shocked He’s still willing to use me. But that means that even with my brokenness, even with everything I’ve done and been through and now recently exposing to others, God’s still like ‘I want to use Toni.’ I’m like Oh, I am worthy! I really am if I didn’t do another thing. If I mess this thing up again, He’d still choose me. That’s crazy!

You can be transformed because of these broken things in your story. God can use you for His Kingdom and His glory—no matter what your past looks like. No matter what you’ve walked through. And no matter the unworthiness you feel.

Getting Out of the Victim Mentality

There are times in life where we are victims of our circumstances, the actions of others, and even our stories. But We don’t have to stay there and we don’t have to allow that mentality to attach itself to our identity. 

“It (victim mentality) showed up a lot in my new relationship when I started dating again. I never wanted to be wrong. Because in the past, when someone didn’t like something in the marriage, it always ended up with holes punched in the walls, or doors ripped off the hinges. Unfortunately, my sweet (now) husband never got empathy from me. He never got compassion. Now all of the things he needs tending to, I can’t give him because I’m always the victim.” It wasn’t until she became the victor in her own personal story that things started to change. It had nothing to do with her new relationship or her new marriage. “Instead, it was, ‘Who does Toni want to be? Who does God say I am?’ The truth is, He says I am a victor, right alongside Him. So when I transitioned out of that state, I could even just be more kind to anybody . . . my daughter and my now husband. I don’t have to sit in this victim identity. I have enough stored up. I have enough in the reserves, I have enough worthiness in me to say, ‘I did that wrong and I’m so sorry.’ And it takes nothing from me. 

Solo Parent: You are worthy. No matter what you’ve gone through or are going through, God still calls you the victor because you are standing with Him. He is near to your broken heart and will carry you through this season. Surrender it all to Him and find safe people to be in community with you as you continue to find worth despite your brokenness. 

Brave Enough to Be Broken Book

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