Posted in musings, quotes

brokenness

“We are all broken by something. We have all hurt someone and have been hurt. We all share the condition of brokenness even if our brokenness is not equivalent. […] Being broken is what makes us human. We all have our reasons. Sometimes we’re fractured by the choices we make; sometimes we’re shattered by things we would never have chosen. But our brokenness is also the source of our common humanity, the basis for our shared search for comfort, meaning, and healing. Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion.

“We have a choice. We can embrace our humanness, which means embracing our broken natures and the compassion that remains our best hope for healing. Or we can deny our brokenness, forswear compassion, and, as a result, deny our own humanity. […]

“So many of us have become afraid and angry. We’ve become so fearful and vengeful that we’ve thrown away children, discarded the disabled, and sanctioned the imprisonment of the sick and the weak – not because they are a threat to public safety or beyond rehabilitation, but because we think it makes us seem tough, less broken. […] But simply punishing the broken – walking away from them or hiding them from sight – only ensures that they remain broken and we do, too. There is no wholeness outside of our reciprocal humanity.

– Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy, emphasis added

The last line from the quote above lingers in my mind, settling down slowly through my thoughts like gentle rain seeping deeper into the clay soil of our desert yard (and my thoughts are holding onto it like that clay retains the water that falls upon it).

I am reminded of C. S. Lewis’s attempt (in Mere Christianity) at explaining how one man’s sin could affect the whole human race, and how one man’s righteousness could restore it, in which he compared humanity to a tree, each individual inextricably bound to the others through time and space, biologically and spiritually, so that sickness could spread from one to all the rest, and likewise healing.

I am reminded of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, where he writes that if he suffers, it is for the purpose of bringing them comfort and salvation, and that if he is comforted, that is also for their comfort and salvation. He was willing to be broken himself to help restore them to wholeness, and to share his healing with them. To be honest, I don’t think it would have been a satisfactory and complete healing for him if he knew that the church he loved was still broken and suffering, either through sin or persecution.

But I also know, from observation and experience, that vulnerability is hard, that grace is hard, that walking with another person on the path from brokenness to healing is incredibly hard. People don’t usually respond the way you might want or expect, and their journey toward wholeness tends to be circuitous and rocky. Rehabilitation isn’t a process of making over broken people into our image (or some ideal image), but rather a process of helping those people find freedom from the bonds of trauma, regret, addiction, illness, and so on. I don’t think it is possible without some amount of pain.

And as for how this might look, practically, in my life? I have no idea. There are many possibilities, obviously, since all of us are so broken, but I don’t know where to go after the basic beginnings of extending love and grace to my family and immediate community. I do know, at least, that I intend to keep my eyes and ears open to the stories and hurts of other people, so that when the opportunity to show love and mercy does arise I am prepared.

Posted in family life

finding myself again

One of the less pleasant aspects of Aubade’s birth was that it resulted in a 4th degree tear (baby girl was coming fast and needed to come fast as each push caused her to have pretty significant decels, indicating potential hypoxia – they actually had me on oxygen and made sure we waited in between pushes to get Aubade fully oxygenated before each new push, and she was quite big!). While it’s been healing as well as can be expected, it’s put some limitations on what I can do, which is really frustrating for me.

But! Today I pushed the boys in the stroller, while wearing Aubade, all the way to the Museum of Natural History two blocks down from our house! I’d been building up to it: I’ve walked with them to the children’s museum one block from the house with no stroller, just carrying Aubade and the diaper bag, since the boys can walk that distance fairly easily; and I’d taken all three of them to the grocery store and pushed them in the shopping cart (which in retrospect was rather stupid because I lifted Rondel in and out of the cart and he’s quite a bit above my lifting weight limit right now). But this was my first solo outing with the stroller. And it went really well! With the weather so frigid, gloomy, and drizzly these days, it is especially nice to have broadened the scope of where I can take the boys when my husband is at school – and it makes me feel much more like my normal self: confident, independent, and quite capable of planning and executing fun outings with my children!

I guess my whole point is that even when you know rationally that recovery takes time but will eventually happen, it’s easy to get discouraged and feel like you’re never going to be yourself again, until you have those little moments of normalcy that help you see that you are coming back. It’s true physically with the recovery from a tear (or C-section, as I learned with Rondel), and it’s true emotionally with the hormonal transition from pregnancy to postpartum; in either case, you might need some extra help getting there, but recovery is totally possible, and you will find yourself again.

Posted in musings

forced rest

Everyone tells you to rest after you have a baby – to let your body heal, to bond with your newborn, and so on. This is especially true after a c-section or a bad tear, since significant physical healing needs to take place and won’t be able to do so as effectively if you’re always pushing yourself to your limits.

But rest is much easier said than done.

I don’t know if it’s just me or if it’s a wider cultural phenomenon, but I start to feel guilty and depressed when I just lie around all day, even when I know my body needs it. I see the boys running around and want to join them (despite the inconvenient fact that I can only walk at a slowish shuffle right now). I see the mess and disorganization from labor following hard upon the holiday chaos, and feel bad for not helping my husband sort through it all. Rest is hard. But my body needs it right now, for short-term and long-term reasons, and it would be foolish to deny myself that rest.

It has made me think about rest in everyday circumstances as well, though. I like to think I’m fairly good at giving myself opportunities to rest and relax – but really, most days the time I spend enjoying a good book or peaceful hobby is marred by the guilt of a hovering to-do list reminding me of all the things I should be doing instead. And a lot of time I get stuck in an indecisive limbo, neither resting well nor working well because I can’t do either without either guilt or exhaustion interfering.

Rest shouldn’t be a cause for guilt in any case, though! Even God Himself, who is outside time and has no need to rest, did so on the seventh day to mark that day as holy and to set an example for us in our rest and work. How much more, then, ought we to rest when we need it: to acknowledge the frailty of our bodies, minds, and spirits; to admit our lack of control over our lives; to be humble and small and at peace before God instead of continually striving to do everything in our own power.

So – I think I’m going to try to use this period of enforced rest as a training on how to rest intentionally and well, in hopes that it can carry over to normal life.