What to do When We’re Broken

Stress has been beating me into a bloody mess in recent weeks. Children—0; Flu—2. A tenth birthday party. A dog with fleas. A dancing daughter with another foot injury.

The passing of a precious aunt, and I still can’t begin to wrap my mind around her too-early-for-me-going-home-to-Jesus entrance into heaven.

And then there’s the job. The teaching 170 students with two essays each while desperate to just be a wife and mother. Too many frozen pizzas and mildew rings around the toilet.

Lately, I’m a mommy-guilt mess. Feeling so broken. Depression always slips its dark hands in when stress overwhelms. I live scared of slipping back into it’s dark hole.

And then…His gentle whisper. I was reminded.

Reminded of a lakeside stroll I took last fall. My shoes crunched the sandy earth dotted with grass and fallen pinecones. The light of the setting sun danced and moved through the branches, kissing each needle goodnight.

Breathing in the calmness of a sunset. Tension lifted from my shoulders as tight muscles unwound, and I focused on the decadence of creation.

How can I walk by such glorious artwork and not stop to breath it into my soul?

I turned to be greeted with pine needles just a foot or so from the top of my head. I reached up and ran my hand down their silky surface. I smiled and looked higher in the tree. What I saw stole my breath.

The branch holding the needles at my fingertips had been broken. Broken years ago. But instead of dying, the branch had healed around its brokenness. Growing and living in spite of it’s break. It grew at a 90-degree angle—straight down. Straight down as if it wanted to brush it’s fingers against my hand.

Broken BranchesBroken Branches

In that moment, I knew.

Sometimes we must be broken to reach down. To reach down and touch the hurting soul of another.

Because we were never meant to walk this life alone. We have a choice. We can choose to allow our broken places to kill us. Or we can allow our broken, dark places to help others.

In that reaching, we can find healing for ourselves too. We heal when we reach out. Reach out in spite of our pain. Reach out when we’d rather pull in. I know. Because I’d always rather pull in.

And there is a pulling into Jesus—close into the One who knows pain. Understands our torn hearts and weeping spirits. Our brokenness requires a drawing near to the One who can make it well with our souls.

But honestly? When I’m hurting? Sometimes, I’d rather pull into Jesus and stay there. Never reach out. I want to shelter the torn places, run away, and shut myself off from the world. Because I can’t break more in that sheltered place. In my quiet places with the Comforter I can scream, I can cry, I can shake my fist.

But I can’t help.

Only in the drawing near and reaching out is healing found. Because when I whisper “You’re not alone” to another mama with exhaustion etched in her eyes, brokenness worn in the stoop of her shoulders, I am reminded I’m not alone either.

When I bend to hear the cries of a neighbor walking a road I’ve not traveled, I can slip my arms around her neck because I know broken too and our pain doesn’t have to be the same to comfort.

Because we’re in this thing together. Suffering together. Enduring together. Grieving together. And really? It shouldn’t ever only be about me. If I’m too wrapped up in my own hurt, I fail to see the tears of my sisters.

Our Jesus calls us to lives that shine His light in a broken world. And shining is only ever done with arms open. Reaching. Stretching. Touching.

We can choose to live through our broken by reaching down into the souls of others. And there? Healing for the collective human spirit.

“Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:2

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12 Responses to What to do When We’re Broken

  1. Liz says:

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful insight with me.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Heather,

    Your posts so speak to me. It always makes me smile that even though I am old enough to be your mother, when you describe the struggles you face, they seem to track right along with what I am facing!!

    I was struck down this week with something myself. Not sure if I had a cold or the flu. Worked all week except for Thursday when I thought going in with a 102.5 degree temp might not be the best idea. As I lounged in the recliner taking Advil and drinking yet another glass of water, I wondered how the office would get along without me. I thought about the plans I would probably have to cancel for the next day and the weekend. I thought about all that I was looking out on in my house that needed attention- dust, dirt, the cute toilet ring you mentioned lives over here too, dishes, empty cupboard, bills stacking up to be paid.

    And, we lost our sister-in-law in September as she graduated to Heaven much to early.

    Yes, my sweet sister, you are right!! All you said is so true. I went right to Bible readings and allowed God to speak to me. That is so my favorite… seeing how He can use any avenue you give Him to send you just the perfect message. He blows my socks off daily!!

    I know so well that all that I experience can help and bless others. And in that reaching out to help and bless other, I receive! Oh, yes!! I receive! Once again…. He is in it!!

    Much Love,
    Camille

    • What amazing words of encouragement, my friend. Thank you for reminding me I’m not alone in my struggles. You have never ceased to be an instrument of blessing and prayer in my life. How do you begin to thank someone for that? Love you so much!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m so blessed to know you and be able to read your blog. Your inspired words never fail to encourage me. Thank you for reaching out beyond your “less than perfect” day.

  4. runawayfaith says:

    Many will read and not post but be encouraged nevertheless. Keep on with your good words.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’m sitting here exhausted from the week at school, sore throat, fever, TRYING to make order of my desk, bill$ , my house isn’t just messy…. it’s DIRTY :( – I got on Facebook to see what’s going on in the world…. and read this…….. WOW!!! If ever I NEEDED a message …. it was THIS ONE !!!!! THANK YOU Sooooooooooo much ! <3

    • Thank you so much for your encouragement…Believe me. I understand dirty houses. Truly, I do! When we share the flip side of those FB highlight reels, we begin to realize we’re not alone…

  6. Polly Pounders says:

    Absolutely beautiful words…thank you…

  7. Zelma Dodd says:

    Excellent post. You have touched the reality that we all face at times. The best advice I was ever given is when you feel like this “run to” don’t run away. Don’t withdraw into your self but find help in the words of a friend, in coming together we help to lift each others burden. We are not alone to face life but are surrounded by so many in the body of Christ. We just need to “let them in.”
    Thanks for being transparent.

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