It had been nearly three months since Angie missed a stair on a Florida vacation and her body and life took a wild tumble. Her ankle was broken in three places and so were all the routines in her family’s days. Grandma moved in to help, there was surgery and two different casts, a walker and crutches, and then a boot. How long would this go on? In a quiet moment, Aiden, her youngest son, turned to his dad and said, “When is Mom going to get over her brokenness?”
I love the question. When I first heard it, it spawned another. Do we ever get over our brokenness?
But I know where Aiden was coming from. Parents aren’t supposed to be broken. They are the fixers.
My mom loves to tell the story of how when I was a toddler and anything was broken, I’d always shrug my shoulders and say, “Daddy fick it.” My daddy could fix anything. I’d give the pieces to him to hold, he’d breathe his healing breath over them and abracadabra it’s fick-ed. Fixed. Or so it seemed to me.
Then I started growing up and so did you. And as we grew in mind and body and in our ability to break things or have others break us, we found out the terrible truth that even if they’re engineers or magicians or have a closet full of superglue, they can only do so much. We flopped our big bodies over theirs and sobbed – or maybe we yelled at them instead because yelling’s more comfortable -because we wanted them to fix it, fix us, fix whatever and it just wasn’t working like it was supposed to.
And then we kept growing and yelled some more because we discovered an even bigger, more horrible terrible secret that really got us steamed: our parents were broken too! It’s not just us. THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE ARE BROKEN! Who told them they could be broken? How is the world supposed to work now?
I’m not mad anymore because I’m a long way from teenage-hood. I’ve watched the anger-storm swell in my own kids as they discovered the terrible horrible secret of my own brokenness (I’m always kind of amazed that it took so long-didn’t they notice the sarcasm spurting out my mouth at them at weak moments or those scowls of mine in the mirror? I could go on-there’s plenty) and that of others around them. I’ve grieved with them when their heroes slipped off their pedestals and I’ve watched them explore with dark fascination the weaknesses of adults, including myself, pushing our buttons, spying to see the sharp edges of the brokenness that pop out of our insides when they cross the line. It’s all normal and my kids are really nice people. It’s just something they have to do. So yay!
Maybe my acceptance of my own brokenness is part of why I’m crazy- CRAZY I tell you- about Harper Lee’s “new” old book, Go Set A Watchman. I’d held back from reading it until day before yesterday since it came out in July because Atticus Finch really was my secret boyfriend and I heard that if I read it, I’d have to witness all sorts of ugly things said about him and I liked him on his To Kill A Mockingbird pedestal just fine. But finally it was time. In this “new” book (which was written first, in case you haven’t heard) we watch Jean Louise discover Atticus’s brokenness. As her uncle tells her near the end, “As you grew up…you confused your father with God. You never saw him as a man with a man’s heart, and a man’s failings- I’ll grant you it may have been hard to see, he makes so few mistakes, but he makes ’em like all of us.”
It didn’t make me love Atticus any less. It made me understand him more. I still love you, Atticus. We have things to discuss, but I love you.
Do we ever get over our brokenness?
I don’t think so. We can ask God for help. Give God our pieces. Let God hold them in his holy hands, let God breathe his healing breath over them, and abracadabra, God still loves us, even when we’re still not fick-ed. We can’t expect God to take away our humanness. We have to do the work ourselves (with God’s help) on our mean spirited sarcasm and bad body image and all the other stuff we bring to the table. But God meets us there, in bread and wine, with open arms, ready to hold us anyway.