Acceptance is antidote for brokenness
Column by T.J. Kimble
Have you ever broken anything?
I’ve seen a lot of brokenness in my lifetime. Sometimes we’re in the wrong place at the wrong time and we have a front row seat to disaster. Other times, we can bring the rain of brokenness upon ourselves. What about when something becomes broken beyond repair?
Once when I was 6, I had this great idea. Mom was on the phone. With no end in sight to the conversation, I risked breaking a cardinal rule. I asked a question to an adult while talking to another adult. She said yes! I heard her say the precious Golden Word of all English words in my current vocabulary, Y-E-S! Wasting no time, I went to work locating a knife. Making what any 6-year- old would consider the neatest surgical incision, I cut both boots open down the middle. I was so proud of my invention. Now, I needed a little adult help making the holes and lacing up my boots with shoestrings.
Unfortunately, when mom got off the phone, it was obvious, we didn’t share the same enthusiasm for my creation.
The boots were ruined. She raved. I heard her say they were beyond repair and threw them away. What happen next was typical of what happened to all 6-year-olds, I knew living in the state of Texas in 1976. I received swift justice, a whoopin’ aka a spanking. Talk about bringing the rain upon your head.
Ironically, today in almost any boot store you can find lace up cowboy boots.
Broken boots are one thing but broken hearts are an eternally significant matter.
Sometimes, we’re in the exact right place at the exact right time to stop a disastrous situation. What should you do when you find yourselves in the midst of a tragic situation?
Consider embracing the healing process, hugging someone that’s deeply hurting; putting your arms around their brokenness. Listening, actually accepting, what a wounded heart’s really attempting to say.
Deep listening is the healing process. Listening for the express purpose of perpetuating an atmosphere of acceptance creates cathartic lifelines for those drowning in an ocean of personal pain.
Please think carefully about what follows. I don’t know if this story is true or not, but what if it happened to you? What would you say?
Shortly after a war ended, a mother receives a call. The voice on the other end is familiar. It’s her son. She’s so elated to hear his voice and know he’s OK.
“Where are you?” she asked and he told her he was at a nearby hotel.
“Please come home,” she pleaded.
He responds, “Sure mom, one question first. I have a friend with me I would like you to meet. Can he come home with me?”
“Of course, just come home now,” she insists. “OK, Mom, one thing, my buddy’s very wounded.”
“Oh! What do you mean?” she asked with a sigh.
“Well, Mom he lost both legs, has severe burns and is wheelchair bound. He has nowhere to go and I’ll change his bandages.”
His Mom rebuttal began, “Our place is small and there’s no wheelchair ramp, besides he would slow you down. Just check him into a V.A. Hospital and come home.”
“You’re right. We could never take care of his needs,” says the son. “I’ll check him into the hospital first thing in the morning and come directly home.”
“That’s my boy,” replies his mom.
“I love you Mom,” says the soldier.
This was the last conversation this mom would ever have with her son. Upon hanging up the phone, he rolled his wheelchair to the window and fell seven stories to his death.
Maybe acceptance is a significant human felt need? What if when we accept others, without conditions, we communicate their life isn’t broken beyond repair? Maybe genuine acceptance creates affirmation. What if affirmations build bridges of belonging? Maybe belonging fosters healthy attachments. What if healthy attachments breed environments where connectedness can grow? Maybe connectedness is the catalyst to confidence. What if self-confidence is a direct by-product of the acceptance in the world around us? Maybe acceptance really is the antidote for brokenness.
What if God gave family and friends as gatekeepers of that antidote? Maybe we really are our brother’s keeper. It may be acceptable to throw away boots as broken beyond repair, but it’s never acceptable to throw away God’s creation, in this case the wounded warrior, as broken beyond repair.
Good gatekeepers don’t allow brokenness to distract them from listening with acceptance. They know deep down what the antidote is: Y-E-S, I’m safe and you can come to me. I will use acceptance to help you discover and create your own Y-E-S experiences; never treating you or your ideas as being broken beyond repair.
Three little letters, powerful antidotes of acceptance and way less lives shattered beyond repair. Be a Y-E-S kind of gatekeeper and you’ll stay golden.
Dr. T.J. Kimble of Radcliff is a clincal pastoral counselor. He can be reached at email@example.com.