“Take these broken wings and learn to fly.” ~Paul McCartney
This person I admire more than I probably should said something yesterday that cemented my admiration. The discussion centered around helping people with disabilities in a way that allows them dignity and as much self-reliance as they can manage. His closing comment went like something like this, “Helping those with more visible disabilities allows us to better deal with our own less visible disabilities.”
I’d been thinking about the brokenness of every person for a few days anyway. And then to hear someone I admire acknowledge everyones shortcomings and failings, including his own, humbled me.
Every person I know is broken somehow, someway. Every. Single. Adult.
Seven or eight years ago that tune had only one note; I thought I was the only broken one in a world of mostly people who had it together. But then a few things happened and my eyes opened to see the world with a bit more clarity. It can weigh on you, knowing how much heartache and hurt others deal with. It’d be easier to go through life as an eyes-half-open kind of person, in denial about the bad stuff going on around me. There’s only so much a person ought to deal with, right?
As much as I’d like to ignore or pretend or buy into the happy face people bravely put on things, it’s not always possible.That perfect couple? The one with the nice house and cool cars and adorable kids. Broken in one way or another. I’d lay money on it.
The guy at the gym you admire so much? Fractured from a tough childhood, or a difficult marriage.
That one person who always cracks the best jokes and seems to have no care in the world? Damaged and hurting, sometime, someway, for sure.
The smartest person in the room? Torn to pieces inside or struggling with something beyond their control.
That drop-dead gorgeous woman at the grocery store? She may be barely keeping it together, or ready to walk away from, what to everyone else, looks like an ideal life.
I know that sounds jaded and negative and pessimistic. But it’s the truth. Every one of us has broken parts, hurting hearts, cracked open insides, crushed, disintegrating, injured, disjointed, imperfect pieces. Some affect our lives on a daily, ongoing basis, and others only deal with it as a kind of background theme song.
Some don’t even know they’re broken, and as they thrash about they end up injuring those closest to them. Some assume that no one can tell they’ve got a massive psychological limp, or that they’re carrying an emotional backpack loaded down with broken, sometimes unmendable parts of themselves.We all, mostly, keep going from day to day. We drag the broken arm of loss or sadness or abuse out of bed and make the best of things. We put a bit of makeup on over the bruises of shame or fear or loneliness and step out into our day as bravely as we can. Many heft a weighty cast of addiction, on permanent recovery, as we hobble through the ins and outs of every day life.
A few people I know, well, more than a few, have held open their brokenness for me to view. And occasionally, I’ve shared my own fractures and pain. I’ve seen enough to confidently say that yes, we’re all broken a little or a lot, in some way or another.
What’s most remarkable to me is when one of the more broken, limping, sore and worn down people reaches over and pulls up another broken, hurting, tired soul and encourages them, offers a shoulder to lean on. Weak and struggling and yet willing to lift and help where and when they can. That amazes me. But they get it and can empathize and offer understanding and caring.
We all have brokenness that can serve another. Really, we do. Whether we join a support group of fellow stroke sufferers or caregivers, or we quietly give someone we know a hug and tell them they can get through this, we can give something that will help. Perhaps we even write an anonymous note of encouragement, or text an uplifting quote that’s helped us get through. The possibilities for reaching out have no limits.
Those who’ve been the most broken, or are still injured, seem to more often be the most generous in their offers of help.
Why do you suppose that is?
I don’t know either.
Maybe the answer lies in paraphrasing what my friend said, “Helping those with visible brokenness allows us to better deal with our own less visible afflictions.”
Do you think that’s true? In lifting, are we lifted? In helping, are we helped? In caring, are we cared for?
Something to ponder, I suppose.
“We are all wonderful, beautiful wrecks. That’s what connects us–that we’re all broken, all beautifully imperfect.” ~ Emilio Estevez
Here’s the link to the Beatles song from which I got my title for today.