"Can someone just hold me?
Don't fix me,
don't try to change a thing.
Oh, someone just know me,
'cause underneath, I'm broken,
and it's beautiful..."
I love Kelly Clarkson's "Broken and Beautiful." It's the perfect musical keynote for this message. In fact, it was just the inspiration I'd been waiting for to write this post.
I grew up thinking that we start out as innocent babies -- pure and perfect. The goal, was to stay that way. That meant one of two things. Either you were born into perfect families, with parents who protected you from anything that would undermine that very vulnerable state of perfection. Or you were "good enough" to ward off anything that would break the fragile shell of innocence. Karmic bubble wrap. Some got it, some didn't. Broken was anything but beautiful.
By the time I was a young girl, I knew that I was irreparably broken - damaged goods. Innocence shattered. Purity violated. No matter how much healing took place, I would always be a broken someone. At best, patched together with psychological crazy glue or spiritual baling twine.
Broken meant less desirable. Especially when you wanted so desperately to be seen as smart, sweet, kind, spiritually whole. Who'd choose broken, when they could have perfect?
When I turned eleven, my immediate family came into the study and practice of Christian Science. I loved church, Sunday School, reading the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, and attending Adventure Unlimited functions. I wanted to belong. I wanted to be a puzzle piece that had found its place in the beautiful picture I'd been introduced to. But I was broken. They didn't know it. I did.
In my own eyes I was ugly. Yes, I had body dimorphic issues, and I thought that I was plain and awkward -- but the ugliness I was sure of, had nothing to do with my looks. It had everything to do with what I knew, that they did not. I knew what lay under the surface. I knew that I had been shattered, and the there were ugly cracks in my heart.
The effort it took to hide those fissures was exhausting. I was never genuinely present in any relationship. I was hiding behind all the ways I had patched myself together. It took everything I had, to make sure that I was always showing my good side. Always trying to deflect attention from my brokenness.
There are so many things I could share here. Suffice it to say that I spent decades disguising the still sharp edges of my shattered heart -- because a shattered heart was ugly. Broken things deserved to be discarded. If I gave the impression of wholeness, I might be kept on the shelf.
One day, I saw a photo like the one above - and below. It was of a broken ceramic bowl. It was illustrating a Japanese art form called, "kintsugi," which translates into "golden seams," or "golden repair." The broken bowl is given new life by filling the cracks with a mixture of resin and gold dust, making the bowl even more valuable - for the originality of its beauty. No two kitsugi bowls are ever the same.
When I discovered this cultural love for the broken bowl, I gave myself permission to wonder if, maybe, it wasn't my brokenness that actually made me beautiful.
Did the shattering experiences I'd endured as a child, make me more compassionate? Had the stress of circumstances broadened my perspective? Would I become a more understanding friend, because I had felt so afraid of being misunderstood? Could I value the brokenness in others, because I knew how desperately we all want to feel whole? Were the friendships I'd let fall and shatter, have even more beauty, once I poured the gold of honesty and humility into the wounds of misunderstanding and hurt.
Mother Teresa once said: :
"“May God break my heart so completely
that the whole world falls in."
Could it be that I had not been broken apart, but broken open? Open to a new and deeper understanding of our humanity as brothers and sisters in Christ?
This statement from Science and Health became a lifeline for me:
"Our disappointments and ceaseless woes
turn us like tired children to the arms of divine Love,
then we begin to learn life in divine Science."
Could this really be true? Was it possible that my broken heart, my disappointed dreams, my woeful experiences were just the beginning of discovering what it meant to live spiritually -- and not an indication of a failed attempt at life? A failed life. One that I'd felt I had no control over to begin with - just a poorly dealt hand. Had those same disappointments really been a gift?
Elsewhere in Unity of Good, Eddy writes:
"Truth, in divine Science,
is the stepping-stone to
the understanding of God;
but the broken and contrite heart
soonest discerns this truth,
even as the helpless sick
are soonest healed by it."
Perhaps, I wondered, I was even more beautiful because of my brokenness? Perhaps I could begin to accept that every broken promise, every shattered trust, every sharp edge on the fragmented shards of my life, was a place to pour in the gold of compassion, humility, honesty, hope -- grace. For these were the drams of gold that were continuously being separated from the dross - through those experiences in the fiery furnace of ceaseless woe and disappointment.
God's love had never left me. I was not a discardable spiritual failure, but a beautiful creation in His loving, tender hands. Nothing that I had experienced, had ever touched the purity of the clay.
I was not something to be fixed, but someone to be loved. Something to be held tenderly. Someone to be valued for the seams of gold, that ran like veins of beauty and compassion, through my life. We all are.
offered with Love,