Monday, January 3, 2011

Stronger In Broken Places

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward
some are strong at the broken places.” 
Ernest Hemingway 

Broken places.  When I think about broken places I think of hurt, confusion, surprise and mostly healing.  Not all broken places are the same, there are as many ways to break as there are kinds of people.  

Some people are broken by circumstances which are entirely beyond their control.  Others are broken by those they should have been able to trust but in the end were not.  

Accidental or intentional Hemingway was right we all are broken.  Some breaks are small, bruises on the bone.  They may pass with only a lingering ache to remind you of the hurt.  Other breaks are larger but with quick care they heal straight and strong.  They also ache but they are not crippling.  

There is a sympathy, an empathy with these breaks.  They are socially and visually acceptable as injuries.  You didn't do anything to deserve them and there is no crippling after effects to make people uncomfortable.  No one ever deserves abuse I just want to be clear, but for most people they like that things have a simple reason which is easy to accept.  Abuse is neither and so for so many the after affects make them uncomfortable.  They would rather see something accidental than to face something intentional.

Sometimes, though, there are breaks which are not set straight, they never get a chance to properly heal and they leave us with limps and twists.  They can cause us to stumble and fall.  They are, to others and sometimes ourselves, both embarrassing and hard to ignore.

They make us, the survivors, very aware of our breaks.  They make us, the survivors, very aware of both our weak spots and the strong ones.

Those broken places that didn't heal are covered in scars, calcified bones and even bone chips.  The skin shows the bumps and scars.  The bones of our bodies, minds and spirits were broken but no one took the time to help them heal.  There was no caring hands there was no brace or splint.  We survived, some of us thrive, but we all limp, drag or twist.

Underneath though, in the strong places, we are stronger for surviving. Whether it be from war, abuse, neglect or other horrors.  We are stronger because we survived.  

We may not be pretty but there is a beauty in the broken places and in  the scars.  The beauty is that of a spring emerging from a dreadful winter, the flowers blooming in the barrenness of a landslide, the first green that comes out of the scorched, fire burnt earth. 

There is a beauty in our broken places which doesn't get enough recognition because the message of healing crooked is missed in our beauty obsessed world.  We are obsessed with 'cut flowers' trimmed, dyed and propped up in sugar water.  They appear lovely and in truth  they are dying.  They are already dead because they have no strength and no roots.  The enduring beauty of something that isn't perfect is in the imperfection.  

Broken places that heal stronger have a strong message for us all: they mean we survived what broke us!  We lived through it.  We passed through it.  We are on the other side.  A bit twisted and sometimes stumbling but stronger.  We get stronger, we learn to walk with that limp and instead of hiding it we are confident.  They failed to keep us broken! 

Why is it that those who had control or abused us wish for us to stay broken?  Because it means we cannot heal and if we cannot heal there is no way we can be free!  That means they win.  But when we are stronger in the broken places that means they failed.  We did heal and we did get strong and we did survive!

Broken places aren't pretty but surviving  and healing are beautiful!  They are strong! They are us!


  1. Really good post!

    Love the feel of it, the strenght and the hope in it. We are strong in broken places when we validate that we have some broken places. We can become our own menders and our own healers.
    I really like this post!

    Hugs, Darlene

  2. Awesome - great post!! You write so well ... beautifully said!! :)

  3. Darlene - thanks! There is tremendous strength and hope when we are healing, when we can look at our broken places and love them because they are us, and we are growing stronger in them.

    Paulette - thanks! I'm so glad you stopped by.

  4. Sigh, I have so missed your posts, Shanyn. And I am so grateful that you are able to share with us again in your amazing way. Brokenness is so shamed, isn't it - you hit the nail on the head. And so often, those who struggle are shunned for their struggle rather than people seeing their strength in fighting it.
    Your post surprised me because I wrote a poem about that this morning - seemed like you read my mind!

  5. Zoe - so glad to see you here, and it is good to be back! You said, "And so often, those who struggle are shunned for their struggle rather than people seeing their strength in fighting it." and that is so true! I'm looking forward to reading your poem! Bright blessings!

  6. You have a way of writing that allows the insight to be had by each reader I think Shanyn; great post!

  7. Susan - thank you for stopping by and for your comment. I appreciate it!