“I’m broken,” a woman recently confided in a workshop. “I’ve been broken for a while now and I don’t know if I can be fixed.”
My heart immediately descended into instant aching mode.
I briefly closed my eyes to lean into this raw share and drew a deep breath to ground myself in the moment. I bowed my head, gave the words the space to land, and then proceeded to look up to join her fully in this truth.
But as I raised my gaze to search her stare for that sacred meeting ground, I was abruptly taken aback and found myself awkwardly tilting my head in confusion.
Something was totally and completely off.
While she had spoken with a conviction that rang earnestly, those soul windows of hers were serving up a wildly different version of the story she was sharing with the group.
See, there’s a requisite darkness that dances full on with genuine desperation and despair, with true brokenness. I know it well and have seen it more times than I care to remember. Despondency and hopeless resignation dig out a hollow void in the eyes of the beholder that can swallow you whole in a second - one glance can feel much like diving into a frigid pool of pain.
But there was absolutely none of that going on in the woman looking back at me from behind those smart, rimless frames. As in zero, zilch, nada.
Instead, there was an undeniable fire there, lighting her from the inside out. The flame was faint and slightly smothered, but I could see it fiercely fighting to burn brighter and be felt. My skin actually prickled at the white-hot heat she was emanating, surging at a frequency somewhere between inviting and intense.
While she may have wholeheartedly believed she was broken when she said it, this woman wasn’t at all shattered; she was simply simmering. What she needed was some stoking and stirring, not any kind of saving, fixing or mending.
In the moment, all that I said was, “You’re not broken, you’re just interrupted. And that’s not a bad thing.”
We live in a culture that is fixated on fault and failing, along with the fast and the furious. We’ve absorbed the notion that if we’re not achieving, we’re atrophying. In the absence of action and accomplishment, our worthiness somehow hangs in the balance. We’ve lost the capacity to sit with uncertainty and have radically discounted the tremendous value and beauty of just being.
But here’s the thing: Ideas insist on incubation and creative babies won’t be born whole and healthy without that critical gestation period. Foregoing the essential recovery time between marathons is a certain invitation for injury.
Our standstills should be savored. Intermissions are opportunities to revel in spaciousness. Disruption doesn’t preclude devotion.
Make space for grace in the grit. More heart, less hustle. You’re not broken, you’re just breathing.