How Right Living Was My Brokenness: a guest post from Kelly Smith



It’s an honor to begin a new thing here at theRunaMuck and to ask you to join me in welcoming guest posts from this small community. When I wrote Wild in the Hollow, I knew I wouldn’t be the only one who’s seen the beauty in brokenness. I also know that story begets story, so some of you will be sharing your stories here.

Our first in this encouraging series is from Kelly Smith. I grew up in the same town as Kelly, and it thrills me to post her work here. It’s amazing to me how similar our stories are, and yet I thought we were completely different creatures back then. It blows my mind what common ground our brokenness is. Please follow Kelly and welcome her here!


I believed in Jesus and redemption before I could spell it. “Jesus loves me, this I know.” “I once was lost, but now I’m found.” At 8-years-old, “lost” doesn’t mean much. Because I am a rule-follower, I never felt lost or broken, until a broken home during my high school years fractured me and birthed unrest. The rules didn’t work. The law didn’t lead me home, so I set out to find it, not conscious that I ever started the journey.

I tried finding Home in cars, traveling along roughly paved back roads. Music loud. Wild wind blowing through my hair. Pushing limits. Trying new things. Community, even a community among non-believers, can make any place feel like home.

But, something in me knew this was not my Home. I was in the wilderness, but the Spirit didn’t lead me there. I missed home. I knelt at the altar with the sun broken around me by the stained glass in our small church, my own heart broken by the weight of my own sin.

The journey Home did not end there. I set out my 5 year plan—a self-made roadmap home. I settled in among university students, filling holes with a 4.0. I worked hard to make much of myself. With magna cum laude hanging around my neck, I moved to the next stop on my map.

I made a home with my husband. Playing house felt like home. We added kids to the mix. The title of wife and mother didn’t make me whole, either. If anything, a strong-willed toddler and a newborn broke me as much as anything I had experienced in the past. Inadequacy oozed from me like the undigested milk that stained my shirt.

I was so homesick that I leaned hard into the Word. I dug deep and found a strong foundation in the thin pages of my study Bible. Even then I used the Bible for my own gain. Somewhere the balance shifted from grace to law. I fixated on the checkboxes of my self-imposed, Pharisaical list. I could do religion. I could do judgment. I could project my expectations on others and find them lacking every time. This served to elevate my status in my own eyes.

Religion isn’t a place of rest any more than the wilderness without the Spirit of God. Fixed on the outside says nothing of the brokenness on the inside. The Spirit longs to be liberated from the law, to experience freedom in grace.

I needed to see my own brokenness again. Years of right-living separated me from the cross. The enemy used religion to make me feel home, but I needed the same measure of grace as the thief, the wayward, and the Pharisee. The Father welcomes the self-righteous older brother at His table, even as He runs after His beloved prodigal.

I discovered an Acts 2 kind of community, devoted to the apostle’s teachings and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. It is a beautiful thing, to be openly broken and whole together. Joining together as the Body of Christ helped us to be brave, to travel to Asia and Africa to share the Gospel. Seeing the joy of salvation in the eyes of those who had so little brought me to a beautiful ruin.

I would love to say that experiencing fresh grace settled me for good. I want to be complete, but there is always a longing for Home, for Eden. I quiet it with activity; I still try to mute it by following rules. I try to make myself whole so I can feel at home.

A spring of gratitude rises from the dry ground as I reflect on the broken way Home, the broken places of my past and those still to come. The hunger for Home is beautiful and should not be hidden or hushed. I was created to long for Eden, to desire the fruit of wholeness–the wholeness that comes through brokenness.

I am homesick. I make my way Home, stumbling forward. I adapt, adjust, and acclimate until I am broken again. Along the way, the Spirit brings me rest. He will settle and steady me until I find myself Home.


Kelly Smith, blogger at, is a small town girl who married a small town man 17 years ago.  She has three energetic blessings, ages 1 to 11. Her favorite indulgences are coffee, reading, writing, and running.  Kelly believes we are created for community and loves to find ways to connect with other women who are walking this path Home.

Wild in the Hollow: On Chasing Desire and Finding the Broken Way Home is available now. Buy yourself a copy, and submit guest posts to TheRunaMuck at gmail . com.




About me


Wild in the Hollow Book Club: an Introductory video
August 28, 2015
Marriage Letters: On Home
July 06, 2015
A Final Haines Home Companion: a Secret I’ve Kept
June 06, 2014
On Broken Parts in Regular Towns: Alabama, Arkansas, and Haiti
April 03, 2014
On Losing Place
September 05, 2013
How the Light Peeks Through
August 26, 2013
A Haines Home Companion: A Little Eden
March 13, 2013
A Haines Home Companion: Alter
February 22, 2013
Back Around Again
February 13, 2013


Ashley Hales
Reply August 12, 2015

Kelly, thank you for your words and for your story. I hid, too. under 4.o's and all the rules and found myself broken through the dailyness of sticking to those things that I did not excel at. I love how you capture we're all in process.

Reply August 12, 2015

if we could only
see each other's hearts through
our pressed cotton shirts...

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