On Being Forever Broken
by Stephen R. Marsh
I work very hard at trying to be positive. I am intentional in looking for good and for hope in my life, in spite of things that seem like massive failures to me. I do that to the extent that often, I am certain, I annoy those closest to me by seeing positive things that may not be there. I often focus on the trends that are rising or improving, in myself and in others, in reasons to be positive.
When I’m sick I try not to burden others with it. Usually, with a little medicine and some rest, it will pass. Sometimes it doesn’t (ok, I admit, it took me almost three years to go in to see someone about an inflamed rotator cuff. It took less than a week of following the advice I got for it to go away).
However, I have to admit that I also see the negative. I am not unaware that there are counter efforts. I see my own failings and hear them. That is, because, in my heart I am certain that I am permanently broken.
Some of my feelings of being broken are real. When I heard in grief groups that the pain of the loss of a child stays with you forever, it did not really sink in for a very long time. My wife and I buried three children in a five year period, all from different causes. Faced with death and loss like that, you cope and you recover, but the loss remains. My three girls, Jessica, Courtney, and Robin, are with me in the change of the seasons and in every evolution of my life. In a way, part of me will always be broken with their deaths, until the resurrection unites us.
Some of the feeling of being broken is a recognition of personal limitation because I cannot improve fast enough, understand quickly enough, meet other’s needs well enough, be enough, all the time. It is just part of being mortal and human. There is never enough time to do everything, perfectly, to solve every problem, to succeed at every endeavor that catches one’s attention.
Some of what leads to failures in my life is a lack of aptitude. I have a terrible lack of skill for mechanical things, though I am getting better with practice. My father had a similar difficulty, though he was put in a career field by the military that required mechanical thinking. That burdened him his entire time in the military. Beyond mechanical things, in so many areas of my life I lack aptitude. My youngest child before she could talk would reach over and cover my mouth during songs at church. There is a reason I am not in the ward choir.
Some of my falling short is the result of wasting time with reading or television equivalents (more reading — I admit, I read essays and on-line material instead of watching television) or games. I’m probably consuming about ten hours a week on that sort of thing, in recreation that I really do not need.
But much of why I fall short is that I am broken in the way that we are all broken, which is why we all need Christ. Without Christ we are forever broken. But with him, our hope is not in vain. Our sorrow is not forever. The negative can be overcome.
By and of myself I am nothing. But in Christ I have hope that does not fail. Forever.
- When are the times you found new hope through Christ?
- Are there things about your life that you think will always remain broken and hopeless?
- Do you ever look at others and ask yourself how they cope and improve?
- Have you ever experienced Christ providing you with hope, allowing you to overcome? Does the memory of that help you now and when you face new trials and problems?