When I was a little girl I accidentally broke a cut glass sugar bowl that my mother had inherited from her grandmother. I don’t remember exactly how I came to drop the bowl but I do remember the look on my mother’s face when it shattered on the floor. She didn’t get angry but she looked so incredibly sad and then she started to cry. I felt just terrible.
It is painful to be the cause of someone else’s brokenness, especially if you didn’t mean to hurt them.
As teenagers, both of my sons had their hearts broken by young women who ended relationships with them. I can still hear the brokenness in their voices when they told me and remember how frantically my mind raced as I tried to think about what I could do to ease the pain they were feeling. Later they both found life partners who have brought them much happiness and so I know the end of those relationships was probably the best thing. But I haven’t forgotten how helpless I felt as I witnessed my children’s brokenness and tried to provide some empathy and encouragement to them.
Our natural instinct is to reach out to those we love when they are experiencing brokenness.
I have broken relationships in my life. I have hope that some will heal. I have tried to make peace with the fact that some will never heal completely. I have found there is only so much you can do to heal a broken relationship. At some point, your own sense of self-respect and integrity is on the line and you can’t cross it to heal the brokenness so you just need to let it be and not let it damage you or other whole relationships you have.
Not all brokenness can be mended completely or without lasting scars.
I was once observing a science lesson in an elementary school classroom where the student-teacher I was mentoring was doing a tug of war activity with the children. She was using the game to illustrate different concepts of force and motion. And then suddenly the rope broke! I thought the young teacher would be flustered as her lesson plan went awry but instead, she asked questions and initiated a discussion with the children that made the broken rope a really educational experience for them.
We can learn things from experiences of brokenness.
I broke my wrist in December of 2017 and the first x-ray didn’t show it was broken. When the pain didn’t go away for weeks I went to get another x-ray and they discovered my wrist was indeed broken and there was a reason I’d been having all that pain. Sometimes we may not accept that a relationship or perhaps our own spirits and hearts have been broken but when the pain persists we are forced to face that fact.
It isn’t always easy to recognize and acknowledge brokenness.
Our world seems so broken right now.
In this uncertain and stressful time, it is healthy to recognize the brokenness we may be experiencing and the brokenness we may have caused for others.
Our hearts will be enlarged when we show empathy for the brokenness we witness.
There are things all of us can do to heal the brokenness in our world, in our communities and in our families but we need to accept the fact that we can’t mend it all.
We can learn a great deal from our experience with brokenness.