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The following was written by Ariel Szuch and originally published as a blog post on LDS.org.
Sometimes I just feel broken.
I look at my life and see all the ways I fall short—all those things I said I’d do that I didn’t, all the expectations I had for myself that I never fulfilled. I see my weaknesses and frustratingly human frailty and the way it’s affected people negatively in my life. I see my brokenheartedness over losing my mother to cancer and wonder sometimes if I’ll ever feel whole again.
There are many ways to feel broken—physically, because of illness or injury; emotionally, because of unfulfilled desires or loss of a relationship; mentally, because of anxiety, depression, or other mental illness; or spiritually, because of crippling doubts or crises of faith. In the midst of all these, it can be easy to agonize over whether or not we can ever be acceptable to God or be of use in His kingdom because we’re so human and broken. I know I feel that way sometimes.
However, God is good, and He has taught me a valuable lesson about being broken through my life’s experiences:
Brokenness is a gift.
Why? Because our brokenness connects us to each other, and our brokenness brings us to Christ. It is by bringing our broken hearts to Him that we are made whole.
Sharing our brokenness brings meaning to our experiences, and the connection we make with others when we share our stories brings healing.
Up until recently, I hadn’t put my experience of losing my mother into writing that I shared with others. Writing the post “Spring Will Come” was more difficult than I expected—going back to that dark time in my life triggered feelings of grief and required working through a lot of emotions, even though I had experienced healing since my mother’s passing. It took courage to show a part of me that was so tender, so broken, for the world to see.
But miracles happened during that process. I read my story to family members, and we wept, our hearts brought together through sharing our grief. People I didn’t even know reached out to me in person and online and shared how my story had helped them with the grief they were experiencing in their own lives. And I was grateful to God for the opportunity to see His hand touch others through my broken heart.
Being broken is a gift, because when we are broken, we recognize the need for a Savior to make us whole.
There’s a reason that the sacrifice Jesus asks of us is a “broken heart and a contrite spirit.” A broken heart is one that is open to Him, that lets in His grace. He felt our pains and sorrows first, and by going through a little of what He went through, we feel His power in our lives.
I’ve had several cry-in-public moments since my mom died. Once I was in a cafeteria with a friend when my emotions overflowed. It hurts so much sometimes, missing her. My friend sat quietly, his hand on my shoulder. I remember feeling love and peace and sorrow all at once, like the Savior’s arms were around me as I cried.
It’s been in moments like that, when I feel most vulnerable and the most broken, that I have felt the Savior’s love the strongest. He does not condemn me for my weakness or demand that I move faster; He stays by my side. Every time I take the sacrament, it reminds me that it’s OK that I’m broken, because Jesus was broken too. He is “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief,” and with His stripes, I am healed (see Isaiah 53:3–5).
I am grateful for the gift of being broken. God has shown me that He loves me and uses me not in spite of the fact that I’m broken, but because of it. As Christ says inEther 12:27, “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”
I’ve reflected a lot on the meaning of that scripture. I don’t think it means that all our weaknesses will be taken away, but rather through Jesus’s atoning sacrifice, beautiful relationships with God and with our fellow men can grow from them. When we are weak, we realize the need for our Savior, and He comes to us. No matter our weaknesses and shortcomings, with Him standing beside us, hand in hand with Him and with those we love, we are whole.