Friday, November 22, 2013

Confirmed Crazy

After all that, and if you haven't read yesterday's post, I encourage you to do so, there's this;

I might actually be crazy.

It's every broken person's worst fear, I think. Or at least one of them. We think that our brokenness is unique, that it's somehow more disastrous than everyone else's, that the inner workings of our minds as they center around our brokenness might actually be crazy. And so, of course, if we share our brokenness, then all of the unbroken people listening (because that's what everyone else in the world is - unbroken) will know for sure that we're crazy.

At least if we pretend, the most they can do is suspect that might be the case.

Second to that, I think we're also afraid that if we shared our coping strategies, our thoughts, our personal reflections on what brokenness means and how we deal with it, someone might tell us we're doing our brokenness wrong. As if there's a right way to do it. And frankly, most broken people already tell this to themselves. We watch interviews with broken people on television and see how they're coping, and it's nothing like the way we're doing it so we figure we must be wrong.

Let me put your mind at ease: there is no right or wrong way to be broken; there's not even a right or wrong way to be healing. As long as you give your brokenness to God and invest yourself in the process and the outcome, the process cannot be wrong. And you're not crazy.

Most of you.

Yesterday, I had an hour's meeting with my supervisor on the education side of the chaplain program. During our time together, she asked me to respond to the events of Monday with my group, and I did. After quite a long time of back-and-forth, I found the right words and dropped a bomb. She sat back in her chair, put her hand up to her mouth, thought in silence for a moment, and then said, "Nobody's ever told me anything like that." Then admitted she didn't really know what to do next.

This is a woman who has decades of experience interacting with broken people. As a chaplain. As an educator. As a woman religious. As a human being. And she's never heard that before? Confirmed. I'm crazy.

But I didn't feel crazy. Well, I felt comfortably crazy. Because even though her response was one of not really knowing, it was not a response of surprise. It was not a response of shock. She wasn't judging me or placing any qualifiers on my experience. She didn't tell me that was wrong. She didn't recommend a better way to do it. She allowed my statement simply to be, affirmed me in the midst of it, confirmed that she had heard and, to the ability of her spirit, even fathomed the truth of my statement. And between the two of us, we simply let it be. And I loved that in that moment, even my crazy mind was perfectly acceptable as a part of me, as a part of my process, as a part of my growing. 

And like I said yesterday - I am perfectly okay with always growing.

In the course of any given day, each of us comes into contact with more broken people than we notice. It's hard to know what to say or what to do or how to help. We want to do something, but we don't quite know what. Some of us are fixers - we dive in and try to work your life out for you in the hopes that once we put it back together, you won't break it again. Some of us are gurus - we know how you should put your life back together again and we're more than happy to tell you the steps you need to take. Some of us are scorners - we don't know what the big deal is anyway, and besides that, you're doing it wrong. Some of us are scoffers - we don't know why you're broken in the first place.

But those aren't helpful. What we need is to be affirmers. We need to be willing to simply sit for awhile, to take in a story without judging it, to embrace a person's journey, and to say, 'I don't have to understand. I just have to know, and to tell you, that it's perfectly okay. It's absolutely acceptable that you are broken in the way that you are broken and that you are healing in the way that you are healing.' We have to say, 'I've never heard that before, but that's a reflection on me and not you. And now, we get to figure out together what to do with that.' And we need to know the answer may be...nothing. Maybe we just let it sit. Maybe we just let it be okay. Maybe we just let it grow.

Sometimes, letting the broken pieces lie is the greatest healing work we can do; greater, even, than putting even two pieces back together.

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