Growing up in a culture where everyone had to ‘toughen up’ meant that negative emotions of anger, pain, hurt, depression etc. had to be hidden or suppressed. It was (and still is) a culture founded on the misconception that emotions make you weak. Those who have read Chinua Achebe’s famous ‘Things Fall Apart’ will understand how crazy it gets when one begins to prove a point of being strong rather than weak. It’s a survivor’s race.
I’m of the school of thought, however, that admitting these emotions of pain, hurt, brokenness etc. does not render one weak. In fact, it takes great strength to come out and say “I’m struggling,” or “I’m feeling blue.” We don’t say these things because we are weak or lazy, we say them because they are true and we need help.
It surprises me that you could be broken and those who supposedly love you would still make snide remarks of, “Are you the only one going through stress?” “Snap out of it!” or “You’re just seeking attention.” Such insensitivity bothers me! Interestingly, when we see a physical injury, we rally round the person either trying to administer first aid or seeking help. Yet, we scoff at those who carry an equally deep wound in their hearts.
The Bible has spoken about loving the broken several times. God loves the broken-hearted and heals their wounds. We ought to be more sensitive to people’s travails. Just because they don’t deal with stress or hurt the way that we do shouldn’t make us undermine their struggles.
Here are a few tips on how to deal with the broken:
- Stop walking on eggshells: this particularly makes me uncomfortable. If you constantly say stuff like “Don’t be offended…” or “I don’t understand what you want from me,” it just makes one uncomfortable. You really don’t have to be there, but if you have chosen to stay, then stop treating them like leprous beings.
- The Bible says a cheerful heart is a good medicine: when you’re around the broken, try to stay upbeat. Play their favourite songs or send funny videos or memes (if they’re into that). You can even get them their favourite meals! Trust me, these things are well appreciated.
- If you’ve chosen to stay, don’t leave. Now it’s easy to feel discouraged when your friend or loved one is sad or broken. But if you have chosen to be there for that person, don’t leave–leaving is worse than not even showing up for them in the first place. It’s like catering for a sick person who can’t help vomiting around you. I know how messy that could be, but you don’t get up and leave their side because of that. You brace up and clean them up if possible because you love them. Same goes for the broken. Although they may unconsciously push you away by their coldness, try not to leave them; rather, envelop them with the much-needed warmth.
- Pray for them: the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much. Pray for healing and wholeness for them. Much like physical pain, the broken experience excruciating emotional pain which can’t be expressed.
- Remember that God’s strength is seen in our weakness: this truth ought to counter that misconception that the broken are weak people. They deal with more pain than some of us can bear. Those in Christ particularly know that when they’re weak, Christ’s strength is revealed. For instance, I wrote this piece out of a place of deep-seated pain. I was broken for months and I knew a lot of people perceived me as weak. But thank God for His strength which was made perfect in my weakness. Many have committed suicide because of the way they were treated when in this phase.
I implore you to observe and identify the broken in spirit and reach out to them with warmth. You won’t regret it.
And to those who sent me messages or said prayers during my season of brokenness, I pray all of God’s blessings on you.