Broken Yet Unbowed

Sad love songs. We all love them. They break chart records and make millions for their composers. Have you ever noticed that you are more likely to relate with the lyrics of a song when you are going through a tough time? I bet that musicians never write great songs when they are happy; the really great lyrics come during times of heart break and tragedy in personal lives. Those are the songs that people love.

We tend to be obsessed with fixing broken things. Broken hearts. Broken lives. Broken minds. Broken bodies. If you look at society today, there exist all kinds of doctors ready to offer a fix for anything you feel might be broken. There’s a stereotype about people who we perceive as “not being ok” and we steer clear of them till they are “fixed”. Till they are more like us and fit in to what we define as being acceptable.

In reality though, is there really any among us who is not broken in one way or another? And if truly, great things are born out of our brokenness then why our haste to fix ourselves all the time?

I have always had an innate ability to help people. Not through providing solutions because I certainly do not have all the answers. Neither is my life anywhere near ideal or maybe what stereotypical society would describe as acceptable. If anything, my life story exists outside the realm of all rules. Yet strangely enough, I have an almost magnetic pull and people constantly seek me out to help them. It has been like that since I was a little girl. I was the natural leader of any group I found myself in and people constantly sought out my opinion and I quickly learnt that they generally went in the direction I pointed them to.

I figured out early in life that I did not need to be perfect or have all the answers to be able to help other people. If anything, my experience and all the rough times I have gone through seem to have prepared me even more since I draw a lot of lessons from it. I sometimes wonder, how different a person would I have been if life had been more kind to me? I guess I shall never know, nor am I that inclined to ever change a thing.

Look around you. The people today to whom we are drawn, whose story we wish to emulate or whose lessons we want to hear. They all carry scars, some so massive and deep that they cause pain to the onlooker. The really great motivational speakers are the ones who move us to tears because we physically feel the pain of what they have been through and wonder how they even had the strength to keep going. Yet we are drawn to these people.

And when you think about it, what makes them really great is the fact that they don’t think of themselves as broken. Even when they were going through whatever caused them pain, they did not think of themselves as needing a fix. They did not need to be put together and hide their scars. Instead, they endured their pain and learnt from it. In so doing, they came out stronger and better, but carrying the beautiful scar as a reminder of the journey they had been through.

The point is, the things that break us as we go through life are what give us character. They give us strength of purpose. They help us re-focus our vision and direction towards what will keep us growing. We learn from them, but only if we allow ourselves us to. If you look at anyone today that you consider successful, really keenly look at them – they are the sum of their scars. Because no one gets through this life unscathed. Not a life that really matters anyway.
Ultimately what I have learnt is that no matter what I am going through, I can always be a blessing to someone else. I do not need to have a perfect life to help someone else. My relationship doesn’t have to be working perfectly for me to give someone else relationship pointers. My business can be flailing but yet I still have a word of advice for someone starting out. No matter where we are in life we always have something in us that can help another person out. Why? Because we are not defined by our scars. We are not defined by our failures. We are not defined by whether we are successful or not. In the end, what defines us is what we learn from all our experiences. This is the reason two people can go through a similar experience and be vastly different thereafter – each chooses how it defines them.

All too often in life, it is the people who are the most broken who teach us the greatest lessons. Or in this case, release the best music ever known to man. If nothing else, I hope that you will embrace your scars and brokenness more now than ever before. You would not be the person you are today without them.

This article first appeared in the November issue of Sage magazine. All rights reserved.

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