Brokenness often feels like the end of the world.
This is often accurate in the sense that it is often the result of the end of the world—and the self—as we have known it.
Times that leave us feeling broken inevitably change our lives in fundamental ways.
But they are not just the end; they are equally an invitation into something new. They are invitations to heal old (and new) wounds at ever deeper levels.
Invitations to healing
I've had my heart broken more than once in this life by very different circumstances, but as I've spent time exploring these experiences in a more comprehensive way, I've come to realize that they all seem to tap into a familiar set of wounds.
For me, feelings of not being good enough and fears over being abandoned for that not-good-enoughness have surfaced in every case of heart break I've experienced, no matter the external cause.
Each heart break has been an invitation to heal those fundamental wounds and fears of mine at a deeper level over and over again.
While I don't enjoy receiving those invitations (at all!), the more I've come to see them as invitations to engage in a new round of healing, the more I've been able to focus on getting the most healing and growth out of the experience possible.
I also find that this approach allows me to move through the time of brokenness with greater ease and peace, despite the pain those experiences bring, because I move so much more quickly into actively working to heal and grow instead of getting stuck in despair as I used to do.
Accepting the invitation
We don't have the option of refusing those experiences of brokenness in our lives. They happen without our permission.
But we do have the choice of whether we accept the invitation to healing that is hidden within those experiences when they come.
The first step, of course, is recognizing that the invitation even exists.
Once we know that, we can then look more deeply into the experience to determine exactly what the invitation is. This involves stripping away all of the external details of the situation to look at what wounds, fears, and unresolved history have been painfully re-exposed by the experience.
Those wounds, fears, and old history will be exactly what we are being invited to heal.
Accepting the invitation means taking the time to discern what those things are and willingly facing them with the intent to experience deeper healing around those areas without running, wallowing, or denying.
It means repeatedly letting go of the external details of the situation to focus on the deeper wounds and fears that have been triggered in order to deal more directly with what needs to be healed.
Opening the gift
Mary Oliver said, “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”
I think of this often when life hands me one of these invitations to healing in the form of brokenness.
The invitation feels like a box full of darkness, but there is a gift in it when I accept the invitation and am willing to use it as an opportunity for more healing.
Consciously accepting the invitation and intentionally working hard at healing that in myself that is available for healing within that experience makes it so much easier to identify that gift as I focus on the healing that is taking place.
As I watch myself move through these times, I can see an increase in my resilience, improved skills for dealing with challenges, improved compassion for myself in the midst of these struggles, and wounds and fears that diminish in power over time.
Those are my gifts. And I claim them only through accepting the invitation to healing that brokenness offers.
Question to ponder
As you think of times of brokenness in your life, can you see how healing or growth came out of any of those experiences?
How does it shift your perspective on current heart aches to view them as invitations to healing?
What are some of the common wounds and fears that arise for you in times of brokenness?
What invitations are currently available to you for healing? What would it mean for you to accept that invitation? What gifts might you imagine being available to you in healing if you were to accept that invitation?
If you must go through this painful experience anyway, why not accept the invitation for healing that is embedded within it and use it for your greater good?