Stronger at the Break

When I think of the word “break”, I think of broken bones and broken objects.  But I also think of more intangible things: broken hearts, broken promises, broken homes.  Just the idea of the word “broken” carries with it sorrow and heartache. 

Maybe that’s how the existence of the phrase, “stronger at the break” came into existence.  Perhaps it was created to provide some sense of comfort to the one suffering with the break—whatever it might be. 

Is it true though, that after falling apart we are able to become “stronger at the break”?   

Protection from Injury

It’s in reference to broken bones that the myth, “stronger at the break” first came to be.  Unfortunately, it’s not entirely true: that a bone, once broken, grows back stronger at the break.  Not entirely true.  For a time, while it is healing, the bone is stronger at the break.  The body protects itself from getting re-injured during such a delicate and precarious time. 

But once the healing process is complete, the bone is no stronger or weaker than it previously was.  At this point, what do we do?  Do we flinch and shy away from potential harm, desperately attempting to prevent pain from reoccurring?  Or do we carry on with tenacity and courage? 

What about the other intangible breaks we suffer from?  Do we hide away, or do we learn: how to care for ourselves, where to put our faith, and how to become stronger? 

“The World breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”

Ernest Hemingway

We all live broken lives: some more so than others.  Some periods of our lives are simply cracked, while others seem entirely shattered.  But our hearts and minds operate just like our bodies: silently working through our healing even without our conscious consent.

COVID-19

We’ve all been broken in some way by the past few months.  The shutdown of our businesses, our schools, and in so many ways, our lives, has caused us all to feel a little broken.  Though I have been witness to a great outpouring of love and concern for our fellow men, I have also seen closeted and shrouded “broken-ness”. 

We are living in an uncertain state: unsure of what to do, who to trust, when things will just stop and go back to normal—if things will go back to normal.  All these things compounded leave us confused, anxious, and broken.

So, the question we have to ask is, will we continue living in this fractured state, or are we going to become “stronger at the break”? 

How to Become Stronger

1. Seek personal revelation. 

There are so many contrary voices outside, and “inside”, as they infiltrate our homes through every outlet.  Isn’t there a way to find peace and maintain harmony with others? 

There seems to be a battle raging between protecting personal freedoms and taking care of others.  And I only see this particular battle getting worse until we figure out how to establish a balance between the two.  Is it possible to protect what we believe are our freedoms and have peace with others who are trying to do the same?

I believe the answer here is in seeking personal revelation.  Whether through prayer or peaceful meditation, seek answers as to what is best for you and those under your protection.  That is within our realm of revelation—we are not prophets endowed with receiving answers for the population at large, but simply our little families or selves. 

Listen to that quiet voice, and shut out the rest of the noise.  Stop insisting that what is right for you is the only way for everyone, and accept what others want to do for themselves.  This will help you find peace and let go of anger.

2.  Let go of anger. 

Anger is a waste.  Nothing can rid an environment of laughter, love, happiness and comfort as quickly and effectively as anger. 

Do we allow our tempers to flare because of the actions of others?  Actions that have no direct effect or consequence on us?  If someone is acting the fool, why would we allow such a fool to have power over us and our emotions? 

Gaining control over our emotions might be a lifelong pursuit for most of us.  It shows maturity, yes, but it also shows that we know who we are, what our purpose is, and what we are responsible for.  Understanding these things helps prevent us from reacting angrily to things that are said that aren’t true about us, others’ irresponsibility that doesn’t harm us, or any other number of fleeting, momentary annoyances. 

Anger is a tool of the adversary.  It is a tool designed with the intent to control us and rid our lives of all those things that stand on the other side of anger: love, understanding, empathy. 

Let us not be misguided enough to become angry with others in our fierce attempts of achieving those virtues.  That irony would only please the adversary while ridding ourselves of those things we are desperately searching for.   

Don't let adversity break you

3. Rebuild with intention. 

“Falling apart is great—it’s the only chance you get to put yourself back together however you want.” 

Connor Chalfant

Part of learning how to care for ourselves is the painful introspection of analyzing what caused us to break in the first place.  I say “painful” because sometimes it involves admitting failures: failure of judgment, failure to succeed.  Or being broken can come from rejection, naivete, or excruciating willful intention from another.

Introspection and analysis might be painful, but it will help us rebuild with intention.  Only then can we better understand what our needs are, what we need to let go of, and where to place our faith.  Look honestly at the broken pieces of ourselves and then decide what to discard, and what pieces we want to use to rebuild ourselves however we want.  We get to be the authors of our own fate. 

We get to choose: are we going to shrink away from the challenge and leave what is broken exposed and vulnerable to break again, or learn?  The most important thing that can come from being broken, no matter what the cause, is recognizing what we have learned from our fractured state.  We can rebuild carefully and deliberately, thus becoming forever “stronger at the break”.    

I Believe in Becoming Stronger at the Break

“Good timber does not grow with ease.  The stronger the wind, the stronger the trees.”

Thomas S. Monson

I’m not a masochist—I don’t go searching for pain.  In fact, I try and shelter myself from it as much as possible.  But, it finds me.  In fact, the more I open my heart, the more vulnerable I make myself to heartbreak, as we all do. 

Does that mean we should love less?  That we should reject all opportunities that carry the chance of being broken somewhere distantly down the line?  Absolutely not.  Because with each break, each fracture, each chink created in our armor, we can learn, increase love, seek personal understanding and ultimately, become stronger.   

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