(I wrote this story originally in 2020, however, coming upon it again, it comforted me once more. I pray it does the same for you.)
Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out, focus, breathe in…I can sense the sorrow of the person to my left. Her whispered words, “I’m not ok” echoed in my thoughts. Her watery eyes holding tears threatening to drop at any moment. We hugged, promising to talk after and then we began. “I wonder what has happened?” My eyes pop open at that moment as I try to find the answer and then ask myself, “Was that breathe in or out?”
I realize this question was superfluous as my breath had become synchronous to the movement. I look around the room and become aware that even beyond my breath, my body had adapted to the rhythm of the room. Slow, deliberate movements as though we are dancing in slow motion. I am in a yoga class which is known for its pattern of poses rather than free flowing. I know the next pose and my breath directs it limits.
I began practicing yoga because I needed something to counterbalance my running. I believed it would be an easy alternative. I was wrong. It was physically challenging and also mentally nourishing. I began to call the yoga mat “Your Own Giving Area”. I practice in a studio where my faith feels comfortable and I have many talks with God during this time. He has many talks with me as well. However, it is not the physical nor the mental benefits that yoga provides which keeps me coming back, it is the people…
I look left again. Her eyes are closed as she gracefully moves through each pose. She does not know her beauty. It is a rare beauty which comes from a heart that has been broken repeatedly and yet overflows with a capacity to love. Breathe in, breathe out…I begin to pray for her.
The phrase, “a room of broken toys” is spoken to my heart. I recognize the voice of the Spirit of God. As soon as I heard it, I knew I would be writing about it. I looked once more around the room and realized in truth that is what we were, broken toys. I knew most of the women in this room well and through the years we have all had broken seasons.
We shared with each other our joys and our sorrows. We would circle around and hug or cry and then tape the broken one together promising to pray that the tape would hold. Some of the time we were physically broken, a sprained ankle, a torn ligament, a hip replacement. We would wind up back there as soon as the doctor gave permission. For some reason I kept seeing scenes from Toy Story when the cowboy character, Woody was lying in the middle of various toy parts.
If we are truthful with ourselves, we are all broken toys. We get bumped and bruised along our journey of life and sometimes we have a major mishap and our toy counterpart will have lost a limb or if an especially vicious attack whether self-imposed or due to the actions of others we can even lose our Barbie or Kent head (at some time in the life of most children they have an interesting curiosity of transposing heads onto other bodies). I have yet to meet anyone that has not had some sort of injury resulting in brokenness. I have seen a multitude of responses when we realized that we are broken and are trying to get put back together. I have tried most of them myself. While I’m not the know all for all broken toys, I can make the following suggestions which have helped me along the way, and they may help you so I thought I would share them:
- Know that brokenness and its associated suffering either was, is, will be or all three. You can’t out “good” suffering, out “run” suffering, out “smart” suffering, or out “last” suffering. Knowing that should make you want to prepare for it, not deny it.
- Know that each season of suffering will have a beginning and an end.
- The suffering you experience now will prepare you to better handle the suffering that will come.
- Each season of suffering will be unique and will be an opportunity to learn something new about yourself, others, and perhaps who God is.
- I began to journal when I entered a 6-year period of suffering. I am able to look back and see how I began to change and grow during this period. In my journal I placed prayers that I could now see through the lens of why some were answered, and some were not. I found my first purpose beyond my family and being a doctor during that time. I also learned how to dream and by writing it down I could see the hand of God shaping the dream and then taking me through the waiting place before he was ready to have it fulfilled in His perfect timing and for only His Glory.
- In each season of suffering, while you are there in the lion’s den, write down all the good things that have occurred because of this suffering and the good things which may come from it. This was a surprising experiment because I began thinking nothing could be good about this experience but when I sat down and really thought beyond my own selfish desires, I could see good, and expect good to come.
- Wise counsel should be sought, and warm counsel should be fought for with all your strength.
Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in…breathe…out. We are in our final resting pose. My eyes are closed but I reach for the place that I know her hand will be. I grab it and we hold all the emotions we have shared in five years of living together as broken toys. This is the beauty of these relationships. We know that we are broken toys and don’t try to hide it. I can’t get patched back up if I don’t reveal that I need a new battery, or my dress stitched together. These ladies sometimes know when I am broken, even before I do.
My final piece of advice is to find your room with your broken toys. You will recognize them. Live authentically with them. Most importantly you must remember that children still love broken toys and so do grown-ups. But God, He especially loves the broken toy that seeks Him to restore that broken toy to its fresh, new out of the box look. That comes through His son, Jesus. Follow Him to the toy shop!