"Life breaks us all and afterwards ... " I heard those words on the radio. Ernest Hemingway wrote them in Farewell to Arms.
I lived a pretty wonderful life and still do. I didn't recognize much brokenness in myself. I didn't see much brokenness anywhere. I was well loved from before my birth. I lived in comfort and even more most of my life. Of course there were minor bumps in the road. There was loss of dearly loved grandparents and other losses. There was the pain of mistakes, broken promises and unexpected disappointments but there was no catastrophe that touched my life directly.
I really didn't know what real brokenness looks like nor had I experienced it.
My personal life metaphor of brokenness can be summed up in the experience of one September Saturday afternoon. I was driving my new car minding my own business when suddenly - out of "nowhere" - a car smashed into the rear of my car. The boxes of green ware porcelain pieces in my trunk were pulverized into powder. My car was pleated like an accordian. My neck was broken. In seconds I was left with broken clay, broken car and broken me.
The broken clay could be replaced with new green ware. The broken car could also be replaced. Broken me required a little more work accompanied by a lot of sweat, tears and pain. I spent months in a halo cast screwed into my skull front and back to immobilize my neck. I endured surgery and significant pain.
If I could turn back the clock and rewind and put the broken pieces back together (clay, car and me), I wouldn't do it. God knew I needed to understand brokenness on a deep personal level. God was working on my heart in the "afterwards" following the accident. God got my attention and taught me to trust Him in the process!
"Life [does] break us all ... " It's what happens in the "afterwards" that matters! Do we learn to trust and cling to God for help, hope and strength? OR do we turn turtle - draw into our shells and even turn bitter deep in our hearts? We do one or the other.
The difference between brokenness leading to trust or brokenness leading to bitterness is in our willingness to walk with God and trust and depend on Him or not. God wants to lead us in His path. God wants to be our hope, help and strength! Even brokenness can be a good thing when God is involved in the "afterwards" process!