Brittle But Brave



By Claire Buede

"I don't know where this idea that you have to be this kind of strong, unbreakable woman came from. Vulnerable is good." My mom whispered these words to me over the phone at 2am a few weeks ago. See, my mom is the kind of lady who always has a shoulder for you to cry on, but once you finish crying, she's going to tell you like it is. She's like the Aquinas book to my angsty Miranda Lambert ballad.

But this night was a little different.

It had been a craptastic month - a new frustrating roadblock cropping up after each disappointing turn in the highway of life lately. Mom wasn't afraid to not have all the answers, and she wasn't about to let me think I needed to have them all either.

My inclination is to never write about a struggle until it's over, until I've sufficiently processed it, and until I've gained some great enlightening wisdom from it. I guess you should also know I'm prone to instagramming my life like pretty sunsets and positive quotes instead of my actual reality - which looks more like a family-sized box of poptarts that I consumed in the span of one night. I'm forever a hopelessly-hopeful optimist - I want to find the good in every person, place, thing, and situations. So I've been relentlessly disecting the last month, trying to find the silver lining I may have overlooked or the great lesson in all of this. As I reflected, I could only understand one thing - that it's perfectly okay to be broken.

Sometimes, there's no silver lining. No great lesson. Sometimes you develop crazy health problems out of nowhere, and people you thought would always be around just to die, and boys break your heart on Monday mornings, and you watch people you love suffer more than you can describe. Sometimes crazy, unexpected, tragic, frustrating, hopeless things happen - things that shatter everything you thought you knew about life and love. And sometimes it seems like there's no point to all of it beyond the Häagen-Dazs and Doritos. But deep, deep down, I know there is a point. There are many "points" and purposes and plans beyond everything I see and feel and experience right now. The mistake I made was thinking that I needed someone to fix it.

You know, I think the best kind of friends aren't the ones that try to solve our problems. They're the ones that are willing to sit with us in the mess, the disaster, the dust that was left behind all the things that broke our hearts. They're the ones that are willing to look us in the tear-stained face and say, "I don't know what the heck it is, but I know there's more than this."

Broken things are precious. We eat broken bread because we share in the depth of our Lord and His broken life. Broken flowers give perfume. Broken incense is used in adoration. A broken ship saved Paul and many other passengers on their way to Rome. Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.
— Fulton Sheen

If we believe that Jesus is the best friend out there, I'm pretty sure He's a friend like this. Except, He knows what's beyond it all, and He knows what will bring us the peace and contentment that we're crying out for. I'm starting to realize that "thing" that He knows will make us happy, isn't a pain-free life, or a husband, or a child, or even being loved by people in return, but only Him. Just His love.

A priest friend of mine told me recently, "It is never foolish to love, even if the other person doesn't love back. If that were true, Christ would be a fool." So friends, I've realized only one thing this summer - that Christ is actually with us.  He's seen everything we ever have been, and ever will go through, and experienced it Himself. He's actually on our side, and He's totally okay with our mess. In fact, that's what He loves most about us. It's the holes in our heart that make us more and more like Him - the glorified One with open wounds.