Nouwen

Broken

Our brokenness is truly ours. Nobody else's. Our brokenness is as unique as our chosenness and our blessedness. The way we are broken is as much an expression of our individuality as the way we are taken and blessed. Yes, fearsome as it may sound, as the Beloved ones, we are called to claim our unique brokenness, just as we have to claim our unique chosenness and our unique blessedness. — Henri J.M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved

Each week during my ongoing sermon series, I'm using a quote from Nouwen's book, and I think this is the one I'll use this time.

One of the themes in my own life is that times when I have felt myself broken have been minimized or ignored by the very people who hurt me or who ought, by their relationships to me, to have cared most. I say this not because I am preparing a list of those offenses against lovingkindness but because I want to learn how to own my brokenness and not let those people or the memories of them sugarcoat my life. One of my patterns has been to apologize to the very people who hurt or disappointed me, in hopes of making things "okay" again.

Okay for who? You well might ask that. I'm finally asking it, have been for a while now, but the habit of making things "right" is deeply ingrained and takes time to break.

A few of those people, my parents in particular, realized some things they had done that hurt me or let me down, and I am thankful to them for their humility in talking it before they died. I fear I was not gracious enough to forgive my mother at the time. She considered the termination of my pregnancy with a grandchild who had a genetic abnormality to be a relief and did not understand that while I made the choice, it was a heartbreaking decision. My grief seemed out of place to her. When, six months later, she spent time with a young friend who lost a baby to stillbirth, she recognized that although my circumstances differed, my feelings did not. And she told me she had been wrong.

My mother died only a few months later, and while we spent much good and close time together at the end, I needed years to forgive her for her absence in my grief. The work goes on…"the way we are broken is as much an expression of our individuality as the way we are taken and blessed."

8 thoughts on “Broken”

  1. Bless you for writing this. Timely today. And just when I start to feel like I’ve conquered one mountain of hurt I look up and whaddya know, there’s a range!

  2. Grief and forgiveness are difficult to learn, but so important. And this is a beautiful, achingly beautiful, illustration of that from both sides.

  3. Whew. Tears well up.
    What a beautiful and tender reminder of how much courage it takes to admit one is wrong and to seek and offer forgiveness.
    Thanks.

  4. This is a beautiful post.
    One of my patterns has been to apologize to the very people who hurt or disappointed me, in hopes of making things “okay” again. I hate it when I do that. I’m just now becoming aware of the extent to which I have and do.

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