Have you ever felt like you just couldn’t handle anything else? Have you ever felt as if everything around you was crumbling and you didn’t know if you could make it another day? Have you ever felt that the world had broken you?
August 28th was that day.
The day the world broke me.
A little backstory first….
In November of 2013 our little girl, Davy Elizabeth, was diagnosed with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia. She was born August 3, 2014 – a day I will remember as a day of joy and affliction.
We spent 180 days in the hospital.180 emotionally fueled days. Even in the midst of the hardship we were able to see beauty. Personal faith strengthened. The deepening of friendships. New friendships made. Watching the miraculous happen. Yet, even with the by-product of the beauty that we witnessed, there was no denial of the immense brokenness that surrounded us. It was the air we breathed. Babies were not meant to be sick. All things sad were not untrue in those moments. All was not right.
We went home on December 19th. Our Christmas miracle. The answer to our “far more” prayer. Having Davy girl home is one of life’s greatest joys while also being one of life’s greatest struggles. Davy still gets sick daily (throwing up 3-5 times a day), regularly throws up her NG tube, which has to be reinserted despite her screams and tears, receives over 10 medications a day and has many mountains to climb in regards to rehab. The worst part? I can’t take any of it away from her. It devastates this father’s heart.
January 29th of this year my “Memaw”, Shirlene Genevieve Turner, went home to be with the Lord. At 87 years old, she had lived a full life and I got to share some sweet memories with her before she passed. However, death is sad and unnatural. God didn’t design us originally to taste death. Death is a result of man’s curse (Gen. 3). We are all dust and to dust we shall return. Little did I know at the time that the scythe of death wasn’t done reaping within our family.
On August 12th, my mom, Molly Elizabeth was freed from her battle with cancer and her faith became sight. There was beauty in the brokenness of this tragedy as well. Almost 1,200 people gathered to celebrate her life and stories have poured in of how my mom impacted those in our community. Even with all the celebration there was excruciating sadness. My heart still grieves the loss of my mom.
Almost a week later, August 18th, I received a phone call from my father letting me know “Papa” had died. My grandpa was no saint, but he was my grandfather. I lost a mother and a grandfather in a week. My dad lost a wife and father. It was hard to find beauty in this brokenness. To me, life simply felt chaotic and fractured.
I don’t share all this to throw a pity party or to make you feel sorry for me. That’s the last thing I desire. I simply want to share my story and share it honestly.
Which brings us to August 28th.
On August 28th, the world broke me.
My heart. My soul. My mind.
Our little girl had to be taken to the ER because she’d been having stomach issues. Due to Davy’s history, any trip to the hospital is relatively disconcerting. What might be routine for other kids could be something more drastic for Davy because of her condition. After spending 4 hours there, we finally got discharged with a handful of new meds and relieved hearts.
That night, Chelsea and I were supposed to have our first overnight getaway since we brought Davy home, yet fate had other plans. Davy ended up getting more sick than she had been in months, so we were forced to cancel our plans.
For whatever reason – this was my tipping point. I hit the wall. I had been looking forward to getting some time away with Chels to rest and recharge. To be dealt another blow was the final straw. That night was rock bottom for me.
Honestly, it probably wasn’t the fact that my little girl was sick or even that Chels and I had to adjust plans, it was just all of it combined. “It” being the last year and a half of trail after trial. “It” being the last year and a half of struggling to come up for air when the world drug me under the water. “It” being the continual weathering of my soul from the torrential storm that surrounded our family.
// What To Do When the World Breaks You //
What do you do after the world breaks you? What do you do as you sit on the floor with pieces of your soul shattered on the ground around you?
Ernest Hemingway has a quote where he states, “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” Since last weekend, I’ve been asking the question, “If the world does break everyone then how can we be strong at the broken places when it does?”
I realized that when the world breaks you there are a series of choices to be made.
When the world breaks you, you can run TO God or you can run FROM him.
When the world deals you a tough hand you have a choice. Will you cry out like Job, “though you slay me I will hope in you” (Job 13:15) or will you cry out the opposite?
When the world breaks you, you can choose isolation or community.
After tragedy, there is the option to isolate yourself or join alongside the community who is called to “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15).
When the world breaks you, you can choose false strength or vulnerability.
After the world breaks you there is a tendency to put on a face of false strength. To pretend like you’ve got it all together and that you don’t need anything. The other alternative is to believe the wisdom of Brené Brown found in her book, Daring Greatly. “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
When the world breaks you, you can choose destructive outlets or one’s that heal.
On the journey of trials and affliction we all are looking for an outlet. For some, they run to unhealthy one’s – drugs, alcohol, porn, destructive relationships, etc. While others do the opposite – art, exercise, writing, a new hobby, etc.
As for me, I’m choosing to run to God, lean into my community, be vulnerable and explore healthy outlets. Now, hear me say this, I have not actively chosen all of these at every moment. There are moments of doubt, isolation, false strength and unhealthy patterns, but I’m fighting to choose the opposite.
I’m fighting because I believe the truth found in Habbukuk.
 Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,  yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:17-18 ESV)
Even when things fail or we’re cut off, we can “rejoice in the LORD” and “take joy in the God of our salvation” because his love remains steadfast and never ceasing (Ps. 136, Lam. 3:23).
We can be strong in the broken places, not because of our personal strength, but because of Christ’s strength. In our weakness, Christ’s strength will be made perfect within those broken places on our behalf.
So when the world breaks you. Let it break you. All of you. Heart. Mind. Soul. Then let your Savior put you back together. The God who fearfully and wonderfully made you in womb, is the same God who will fearfully and wonderfully make you whole again.