Broken People are Brave People
This post was originally published in January 2014, but when I read it I knew I had to share it again.
Last week, Caleb and I were in the kitchen when I had to leave the room for a quick moment. I heard a loud bang and then silence: the absolute worst combination in toddler-land. I ran into the room to find him standing in the midst of what used to be my pyrex pie dish, looking at me all doe-eyed, as if he had no idea how it happened. In his defense, he’s still figuring out how gravity works.
I put him outside the gates that enclose the kitchen and family room so I could clean up the glass and he went exploring. He did his usual tour of the dining room, examined his diaper bag in the front hall, inspected each shoe on the rack, and then got mysteriously quiet (once again: I should know better). Another bang and he started yelling/crying. I found him in the bathroom, looking at me with angry tears rolling down his cheeks, and his little fingers caught between the toilet seat and lid. Things turned worse when I told him that playing in the toilet was unacceptable; this sweet little boy sure knows how to yell to get his point across!
As we walked back toward the kitchen, I saw a Family Circus style trail of blood smeared from the dining room to the diaper bag to the shoe rack to the bathroom. I plopped Caleb on the counter and grabbed a paper towel to get the gash in his foot to clot and the yelling started all over again since he just wanted to play (probably in the toilet again). A granola bar made him happy and, as I kept pressure on his foot, I just wanted to cry.
Keith got home soon after and got Caleb cleaned up while I cleaned the carpets and floors. The entire event went through my mind again and the image of Caleb standing in the pile of broken glass kept coming back to my mind. I thought how we are often like Caleb, wondering how life got so broken without realizing we were the ones who made the choices that resulted in a situation we don’t like. Quite often, I feel much more like the pie dish: pyrex is supposed to be unbreakable (it really just means that when it does break, it doesn’t shatter into tiny little slivers of glass).
I’ve often felt pressure to be unbreakable. From the ages of 17-25, I thought of myself as stronger than average; I could overcome anything without shattering into a million little pieces. I allowed myself to be stretched too thin and expected too much of myself. Eventually, the pressure was too much and life was too much. I broke into chunks of myself, just like the pyrex.
It hasn’t been easy. Just when I think I’ve gathered all the pieces and put myself back together, I realized I’m missing a piece.
If I had tried to piece the pie plate together again, it would not have been an effective pie plate. Similarly, if I spend all my energy trying to put myself back together, to my former self, I won’t be satisfied with the results. I think about the song Broken and Beautiful by Mark Shultz and realize that in my broken state, I am able to be a more effective friend, wife, mom, encourager, and communicator. When I was trying to be strong, I was afraid of being genuine because someone might find the chink in my armor.
It’s okay to be broken because, guess what?! We’re all broken. I’ve had the privilege of talking with a lot of broken people lately and I’ve been compiling the stories on my new podcast Stories of Unfolding Grace. These broken people have stories to share about loss, grief, and changed expectations. They’ve survived illness, financial hardship, and mental health issues.
Broken people can be brave people.