“We are all broken. That’s how the light gets in.” – Ernest Hemingway (Source)
I broke on Tuesday afternoon. I have one great class that I would love for anyone to come see. The other two are hit or miss. You have a 50/50 chance of coming in and seeing perfect angels or complete chaos. Two sets of learning walks decided they wanted to come see me. The first set went great. My students cooperated completely, but the second set showed their true colors.
They were no worse nor better than usual. They were absolutely themselves, and I did my best to contain the madness none of which appeared to have any impact so I gave up and continued with my regular teaching routine. I called on the non-volunteers, coached them through the answers so they would not be embarrassed in front of their peers, looked at blank stares for the 50% who refused to pay attention. I said a prayer and hoped perhaps they would catch on. I needed them to get it. I needed them to understand.
About 25 minutes before the end of class, long after the learning walkers dispersed and minutes after an administrator came to retrieve the school’s favorite wandering student, I shut down – handed the students their practice problems intended to be an activity but instead turned into work by yourself in silence. My most challenging class worked in complete silence as though they knew they crossed the line, and I wondered where these learners had been all day.
As soon as class ended, I burst into tears with the inclusion teacher and again with an administrator who came to compliment me. An hour later, I finally recovered, and I mustered enough energy to gather my belonging and make my way home. My spirits were low. My self-esteem was even lower.
In the middle of the night, my husband and one toddler both decided to turn on a set of lights – a small action from which I never recovered. I thought it was the light from the hall bathroom that kept me awake. (The symbolism of the light just struck me.) However, after 30-45 minutes, I got up and turned it off. Yet, I still laid awake for what felt like hours even after the darkness returned. I refused to pray simply because I had no words left to say. I had nothing to add that He has not already heard.
I shouted at Him that I was angry. I was infuriated that I was still broken. I mean, “C’mon God. We have been over and over this.” Then I squeezed my thoughts shut. I rolled over as if to say the conversation was over. And God smiled, and said, “I understand, my child. Let me know when you’re ready.”
And I shed not one tear. And I pulled up my covers, and I thought perhaps a few more hours remained before the alarm. However, instead of sweet slumber, my mind returned to my students – seating arrangements, counselor recommendations, student conference conversations. The more quiet the room, the louder the thoughts so finally I whispered, ” I don’t get it God. Why am I still broken?” And tired, and overwhelmed, and tomorrow will definitely be a day if I cannot get some rest.
“Take the day off,” I heard. But I thought perhaps I got it wrong. I have already missed three days for my car. And Thanksgiving break takes place in three days. All I need is three more days. “TAKE THE DAY!” He said.
“Ok, God. The day, I got it.”
So I hopped out of bed, put in my request, sent the work and emailed some coworkers. 3:04AM. Wide awake. I then crawled back into bed. I slept like a baby, up until the alarm rang at 4:30.
I planned to write about my day, and the power of rest. I could not get past the fact I was still broken. I felt like a record, scratching, skipping, repeating. I wondered how my husband must feel – to love a girl who spends her life inheriting new ways to live the same broken. I know it must get old and redundant.
At that point, God piped in. He said, “Your broken is beautiful, remember? This conversation sounds quite familiar.” Then He continued, “Your students need broken. Your students ARE broken. Your broken needs theirs, and theirs needs yours. You spend too much time trying to fix them. You spend too much time trying to fix yourself. Just stop for a moment. Hear me out.
1. “Broken is how light gets out. You cannot see their light without their broken. You need them. You need their broken. They have so much to offer the world, your world. They have light that needs to shine. That light cannot reach you or the world if they are fixed. The parts of them which are broken bring about the healing which so many seek. Leave them alone. Let their light transform their surroundings.
2. “Broken is how the light gets in. Your broken also allows the light out, the light they so desperately need to see, to feel to embrace. But just as importantly, I’ve surrounded you with light -extraordinary guised as ordinary which you cannot absorb without exposed areas. You are so concerned with being fixed. So consumed in the process. You cannot see that broken is how you survive. You think that people are tired of your day in and day out monologues. You think they cannot possibly understand. In truth, they need to see your broken. They have love to offer, and sympathy, warm hugs, kind words, strength and protection. When you are fixed, you have no room to allow the light of those around you to help you find joy in the ordinary.
“So I know you believe the broken is bad. You think of broken bones, and promises, and hearts. You think old wounds and scars still left open…
“Let Me remind you of some other broken things you must have forgotten. Think glass ceilings. Think ground of new businesses and homes. Think sticks and logs that warm homes in the winter. Think molds. Think horizons. Think layers of new soil as plants come out of bloom.
“You see, all great accomplishments have started somewhere breaking news. Your students are broken. You are broken.
“They do not need Me to fix them.
“You do not need Me to fix you.
“The light others need to see – the ground, the mold, the glass ceilings – lie not in your fixed…but in your broken.”
What are some ways your broken lets in light?
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