I never thought I would be writing you this and sharing a glimpse of my story. And I definitely never imagined that I would run into you. I’ve come to learn after a series of bad luck and unhappiness about how to deal with you. And after the past 18 months, I’ve determined this; sometimes you have to be broken for a radical fix in your life.
Have you or someone you know ever gone through an ankle injury? Growing up in a major volleyball community, I was constantly around them. I never went through one myself, but knew many other student-athletes who did. I do recall hearing one common phrase when someone who hurt their ankle had just found out it was broken, not sprained. This phrase was somewhere along the lines of, “Well, at least it’s not a sprained ankle.”
Why would someone else say that? That has always boggled my mind. You would think a sprained ankle would be less damage than a broken ankle, but not always. See a sprained ankle may sometimes heal quicker, but it is more likely to sprain again. This may be because a lot of people will rush a sprained ankle just to get back into the game. A sprained ankle for a lot of people can set off a domino effect and become a reoccurring injury throughout their career. They can do all kinds of rehab, exercises, even be cautious at practice, but then one day just take one wrong step and the cycle relapses. A sprain again.
But is a broken ankle any better? It definitely sounds worse. See, a broken ankle is already at the lowest point. It is fractured, limiting all your movement, requires rest and time. So why do people say, “Well, at least it’s not sprained”? This is why: a broken ankle can heal fully and be fixed. A broken ankle can be made strong again without little of your effort. And even in some cases, the bone will grow back stronger than before the injury. Your body will naturally start to heal itself, but you must give it time and remain hopeful. And then one day, when it is fully healed, you’ll be back stronger and ready to be back in the game.
This is the same case for our life, plans, and ambitions. Sometimes we take one simple step that can create a momentary low. Some of us will feel sprained in life, and others of us will feel broken. Both situations make us feel like we aren’t ourselves or our life is spiraling out of control. And all we can do is sit and wait.
Some of us will try to take control and find quick fixes to get back into our game or get out of our low point. Shopping, food, going out, finding a relationship, trips, exercise, ect…. And this idea and method may work for a while, but when we rush this process we aren’t really letting the problem heal. We find these superficial things to fix our sprain, but then weeks later we get another sprain and the whole cycle starts over.
But see just like an ankle, when a person feels broken they know that the only thing that can fix their hurt is time.
I use to think of the word “broken” as completely negative, until recently. I avoided the thought of ever letting myself feel this way. I dealt with my low points or “bad luck” as a sprained ankle and it never got fully healed.
However, brokenness, you aren’t so bad. Being broken and realizing it allows us to grow in patience and understanding. It’s our low point at that time and that’s okay as long as we treat it correctly. Giving brokenness hope and having faith that things will get better. There are all different ways to get through when you feel broken and each person will vary. You can focus on being there for others, join groups/clubs, grow closer to family, or just look at all the good things going on in the world. For me, it was turning to God and giving Him control in knowing everything would work out and I would come out stronger from this “broken ankle”.
In the past 18 months I’ve gotten the reputation of having bad luck from my friends and family. It almost got to the point where it was comical and you couldn’t joke about something bad happening, because it probably would. Coming into college, right away I experienced being the only freshman on the team, getting my bike stolen, broke my running watch, months prolonged sicknesses/pneumonia, being hospitalized, heartbreak, car accident, car towed, parking tickets, tires slashed, stolen watch, flooded dorm room walls, moving rooms, round two of sickness, fractured back, not racing since high school, redshirting, and now transferring.
One thing I’ve learned from all of this though is that broken moments prepare us for a radical fix. We have to move forward with that focus, or we will just sit there and feel sorry for ourselves. Without being broken, I would’ve never experienced so many valuable relationships and conversations. I would’ve never realized how much my sport meant to me, but also that it isn’t my whole identity.
So thank you, brokenness, for making me sit out of my game for a bit and learn all of this. You sound scary and caused a lot of frustration, but I would rather be broken for the comeback than sprained and stuck in the cycle.
When your life or circumstances seem bad, just take a moment to think and look around at how you can help others. Your role at that moment hasn’t been stripped away from you, just swapped for a different one, still just as important. Continue to have a, “Well, at least it’s not sprained.” attitude. Always looking up and on the bright side, striving for any size progress one day at a time.
See you in the future, Brokenness.
*This blog post was originally published on medium.com Dec 4, 2018. https://link.medium.com/wCqoS3AJOZ