Bare with me and imagine, if you will, that you are standing holding a glass jar.
Suddenly, the jar slips from your grasp and crashes to the floor.
It shatters and there is broken glass everywhere.
After a sigh of frustration, you instinctively kneel down to collect the biggest pieces.
If you are not alone and someone comes to investigate the commotion, you instinctively yell out…
”Be careful where you step!”
Once the largest pieces are collected, you are then left with the minutiae of shards that have peppered the floor.
Tiny slivers of glass which are unable to be gathered up by hand.
You consider the largest pieces.
Wondering if they can be puzzled together to recreate the shape of the jar.
A bit of glue, perhaps?
But the tiny shards?
These are the pieces of glass that can never be reassembled to their original, recognisable shape.
Recently this exact scenario happened to me.
Except it wasn’t a jar, but a treasured mug.
There I stood, trying to imagine how to put the pieces of the mug back to rights.
But realising that without the smallest shards, the mug was clearly unsalvageable.
It would never again be used to drink the endless, warming cups of tea I have so enjoyed during these cold days of winter.
Somehow though, I just couldn’t bring myself to throw away the broken pieces of pottery.
I laid them out on the counter to admire their colour, their broken pattern and their newly transformed shape.
But I needed to get on with vacuuming the floor.
“Be careful where you step!” I thought to myself.
It got me thinking…
Our lives are somewhat like these jars and mugs, I describe.
They are whole, useful and beautiful.
Until suddenly, without warning, they can slip away from our grasp and shatter into a million pieces on the floor.
This brokenness can occur with “small life jars” during daily challenges like disappointment, stress or frustration.
Or they can occur within “large life jars” like grief, depression, loss, anxiety and illness.
The only difference really, is the number of pieces that one must kneel down to pick up or the quantity of the shards that can never be reclaimed.
We must decide what we will do with all of these broken pieces of our life and how we will rebuild and transform ourselves after the brokenness.
In our despair, we can feel like throwing the bits that are left away and declare it all useless, of course.
I have felt this.
It’s a natural response.
Or, we can somehow find the strength to look closely and differently at the pieces that remain and lay before us.
For what we can salvage, alter or possibly put together once again into something completely different for our future.
Like the jar and the mug, after the broken bits of life…one thing is for sure.
We are never quite the same.
There are bits of ourselves, like the smallest shards of glass that can never be restored.
Their absence makes us feel incomplete and not whole.
We all have to some degree experienced this putting ourselves and our lives back together after many dropped jars, large and small.
Sometimes alone and sometimes after reaching out for support.
Our being brave and resilient as human beings is amazing.
But in order to process our emotional brokenness and move forward, we need to learn to express our emotions and get them OUT!
Out of our head…out of our heart, out of our spirit.
We need to practice verbalising our broken vulnerability, using our voice to say metaphorically, “Be careful where you step!” without feeling shame or hesitation. We should respond instinctively when needed...just like we would shout out a warning to someone during a real broken jar incident.
We also need to recognise and accept that our feelings will come and go.
Like, just when you think you have turned a corner and you are feeling “ok”….the jar suddenly slips from your grasp.
We must fully embrace this experience of the “dropped jar” each time it occurs.
We must work time and again to process and integrate these broken pieces into our new experience and rhythm of life, as we grow and transform emotionally.
I have learnt through my own experience that the main goal is to to move the energy of the brokenness through us and out of the body so that we can let it go. Through music, movement, talking it out...you have to find your own way.
But when you feel broken be gentle with yourself.
When you find yourself experiencing these sharp edges that life presents us time and again, step back.
Give yourself all of the time you need.
Know that you are in your own story and you know what’s best for you.
Listen to your body and give yourself the comfort of what you need.
There is no rule book, "HOW" or time limit for healing.
Feeling whole again after the brokenness means seeing the perfection and the imperfection, the hurting and the healing, the fear and the courage as all part of the process of puzzling yourself back together again.
The key, really, is simply trusting in this process of picking up the pieces to begin to love the new shape of yourself, including the missing shards and flaws.
It is these missing bits that need your attention and love the most.
To move on, transcend and grow from the painful experience of feeling broken requires a willingness, courage and a belief that you can choose to see the pieces of YOU differently in the aftermath of whatever has broken your spirit.
While we may not be able to prevent the dropped and broken jars of our lives, we do get to choose how we will react, how we will pick up the pieces and how we will now perceive our new reality in the future.
I consider my life blessed.
But I have broken so many life jars…large and small throughout this half century of my life.
I have stood, holding the pieces of myself, struggling to see the “fit” so many, many times.
And just when I think I have it all puzzled together again, there I stand with another broken jar!
Like my mug though, I have now learnt to keep the pieces of me that I can keep.
Admiring the new shape of me and letting go of the shards that will never be the same again.
I am using my voice to express more fully to those around me, “Please, be careful where you step!”
Broken, cracked, incomplete, or fragmented....I am finally finding my truest self!
A few quotes from my knitting bag book these last weeks:
The wound is the place where the light enters you.
There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.
We’re all a little broken and that’s ok.
Blessed are the cracked, for they see the light.
May your hands be full of clay and your heart full of imagination.
I was never diamonds but broken glass. You just made the pieces of me shine.
When you got hurt
It made you beautiful
The cracks around your heart
They let the light shine through
When you got hurt
In pieces on the floor
You put them back together
Even better than before