I went to a memorial service recently for a woman who had some physical disabilities. One of her brothers spoke so eloquently about her toughness and fighting spirit, but also used the word “broken” to describe her. He used this word respectfully and in a way that made me admire and not pity her. He almost sounded envious. It was pointed out that we are all broken in some way.
For her, the brokenness she had was visible to most people so there was no need to posture and pretend it didn’t exist. To do so would be absurd, almost. But what about me, and the rest of us who are also broken but in a different way?
I think we are all broken in some way and some of us try to keep that hidden. It’s a façade we wear that everything is perfect and working smoothly and we are whole. Is “whole” the opposite of broken? Whatever word that should be, we pretend that is what we are.
I was introduced a few years ago to the word “vulnerable” and suggested I display that more than I do. Ever since then, that word that catches my eye and ear as I try to figure out how to work that into my life. It’s like a shirt that I think is really attractive but doesn’t fit with my wardrobe. It’s different for me and a hard concept to incorporate for those who already know me. I can try to do this more with new people I meet, but how do I do this with people who already know me, mid-relationship? I don’t wear my emotions on my sleeve and don’t share a lot about myself voluntarily.
I also don’t like to cry in public. Ever since my dad passed away, however, tears live really close to the surface so not crying in public is no longer optional. But it bothers me a little because it becomes a “tell”-it gives away what things upset me or touch me and shares things about me without my permission. These are things that I can no longer keep hidden. It’s usually sweet, happy things, like a sweet story about a dog or a child who faces adversity like an adult. Or every single homecoming video of service men and women.
I really admire people like the woman who was memorialized by her brother for her brokenness. People like her are part of the good around me. People who display honest feelings and don’t pretend to be struggle-free. They can wear vulnerability in a way that fits them and draws people to them for it. They don’t waste energy and emotions fighting their brokenness which allows others to see more of their whole-ness.