I was working out the other morning and the Kelly Clarkson song “Broken and Beautiful” began playing. Can I tell you how much that song got under my skin? Obviously enough that I stewed on it, pulled out a legal pad and began putting my thoughts on paper. Yep. I’m still one of the dinosaurs that likes to use actual paper and a pen. Scribbled some notes and mulled some more.
I want to know when it became cool to say that you, me, or someone we know is broken? I understand it, but I just don’t agree with the term. I honestly don’t think it fits. This takes me back to a conversation I had with someone I am close with. This person had been through something terrible and traumatic. This person told me they didn’t ever want others to look at them and think of them as broken or say that they were broken. I remember being incredulous that this thought had even been born. I know what this person had experienced and was still living. This person whom I loved was making it, finding a way through, and coming out of one of life’s unthinkable pits. I know I can be an incredible Polyanna, naive and maybe even a little crazy, but I see this so differently from all of the memes, mantras and quotes that crowd my Instagram feed about being broken, the talk of brokenness and glorifying the word broken. I know that many things can be broken. Bones can be broken, my favorite mixing bowl from my grandmother can (and has been) broken, promises can be broken and they say hearts can be broken. I just do not believe people are broken.
I know people who have weathered horrific storms in life. I have friends who have gone through terrible divorces, excruciating illnesses or injury, suffered loss, traumatic events, bad relationships, imperfect childhoods. I imagine you have too. I also know these people rally every single day. These same folks breathe, get out of bed, put a foot on the floor and find a way to move forward. These people have made the choice to get up, dig deep and do the really hard and messy work to push through the dark times. I have learned that life can be hard and incredibly unfair. When our lives spin completely out of control, our well planned plans blow up and we find ourselves getting continually shattered what does that mean? It means there is a choice to make.
I know those who have been hurt or are hurting right now. I see these same people survive and live. These people are not broken. They make the choice to live and breathe and survive. I respect and marvel at them for their movement, strength and resilience.
I do not know where you are today. You could be smack in the middle of your own terrible, awful, no good, very bad season of life right now. I am sorry if you are and I wish I could help you. There is one thing I believe in my heart. Whether it is you, your neighbor, your college roommate or family member – if you or that person you know, is digging deep, doing the work, finding a way to continue and grow through a hard season, then that is living. That is not broken. That is the definition of strength.
This brings me to looking at the definitions just to make sure I’m not completely off base.
- No longer in one piece or in working order
- Having given up all hope, despair
- The capacity of an object or substance to withstand great force or pressure
Wow. I don’t know about you but I know many who live the definition of strength.
Just because a person has withstood a storm in life, or maybe has a period of being stalled and is taking time to process trauma and regroup, does not mean that person is broken. The fact that a person withstood their storm, regardless of what it is or was, and regardless of how long it takes, the choice to not give up or give in to despair makes them strong, a survivor, a super man or superwoman in my book. There are countless people who have been able to “withstand great force or pressure” in their lives. That does not make them broken. Please read that again.
So, did you kick cancer’s ass, get out of an abusive relationship or situation, raise children as a single mom, live in a toxic home, or make it through some other season of life you just didn’t see coming? Then, yes, you got banged up. We get banged up. Maybe we get some cracks. Earnest Hemingway said, “The world breaks everyone and many are strong at the broken places.” I still take issue with the word “broken”. Maybe there are cracks, or we bend, or, as I like to say, we are weebles that wobble but don’t fall down. Remember these? I constantly feel like a Weeble. . .
These Weebles do fall over, but that does not mean they are broken. Maybe a Weeble gets a crack, but if you remember these little guys you know they do not break.
Leonard Cohen sings, “There is a crack, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”.
This song can be interpreted in so many ways, but looking at it in this context also brought brought me to writings of Paul in Corinthians,
2 Corinthians 4:7-12 The Message (MSG)
7-12 If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. . . . We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. . . .
I love this. You, someone you know, me, we all may have been thrown down, we may feel like one of those Weebles, we may have cracks, but we can make the choice to get up. We can make the choice to let the light come through the cracks. We can live out the definition of strength. That is a beautiful thing and there’s nothing “broken” about that.
You may totally disagree with everything about this, and I understand. (and I confess this is not a very well written piece as I’m just mulling and typing) I am writing and expressing based upon my own experiences. And my experiences make me cringe when folks are described as broken. So, for me, can we please stop referring to people as broken?
Hoping you have a great week ♥