When Healing Makes Us More than the Sum of our Broken Parts

I glance at my ankle and rub my fingers over the protruding bones.  Two cuts divide the front of my lower tibia from the crowded bone depot where the ligaments and the tendons wrap and curl from the lower tibia to the 26 bones that make up my right foot.  Last Thursday a closet door tipped over and slammed into my ankle.  The swelling from the collision of wood and foot has gone down and the bruising has changed from blue to green and now to yellow.  I smile and rub the scar that runs between the two scrape-cuts.

The scar takes me back to a time many years ago when I fell in the rain and fractured that bone in two places.  When I fell, I dropped like a pile of bricks and I knew without a moment’s doubt that I wasn’t getting up anytime soon.  Adrenaline coursed through me and my blood pressure dropped like a falling barometer preceding a hurricane.  Fifteen minutes later, shaking from the rain and the shock, I rode in an ambulance to the county hospital and a fresh, rosy-cheeked doctor fixed me up and sent me home.











The closet door didn’t break the same bone a second time.  They say that a fractured bone once healed, is stronger in the broken places, but I don’t know about that because my “ankle didn’t heal right,” as a podiatrist said a couple of years ago.  A sliver of bone is missing.  But it healed well enough I reckon.  I run marathons on that ankle.

The two lines that form this scar remind me of the scars that constitute my inner world.  When my parents brought me into this world, I was whole and perfect: tabula rasa, unless you buy into that original sin thing (and I do not).  Life’s imperfect song dealt me blows and left parts of me scattered, sometimes shattered.  Doctors and psychologists and therapists diagnosed and treated me and out of their care I wove a mosaic of healing.

To bind together my broken pieces, I had to shine a spotlight on my memories.  For years, I hunted through the debris.  It wasn’t easy.  It took courage because I was so afraid.  I don’t know what scared me more: getting hurt from what I found while searching through the wreckage or not finding the missing pieces that constituted my past.

You see, I thought that if I couldn’t locate all of my missing parts, I never could put myself back together again.  And so I searched for years through the rubble.  In my hand I held fragments of memories.  I mourned what I found; but even more, I mourned what I did not find.

I was afraid that if I did not dig from the internal devastation all of my broken parts, I would never be whole again.  But I was wrong.  There is magic inside me. To my surprise, I also came upon parts of me that sparkled and shimmered.  I don’t know exactly where I found it.  I know not for certain from whence it comes.  I don’t know who put it there, but I have a theory.  Is there anything beside God’s grace that can explain how broken fragments can make me more than the sum of my parts?

I touch the scar on my ankle a lot.  It reminds me that the missing slivers reattached to what already existed inside of me.  And for this, and to Him, I am eternally grateful.

30 Comments on “When Healing Makes Us More than the Sum of our Broken Parts

  1. “It took courage because I was so afraid. I don’t know what scared me more: getting hurt from what I found while searching through the wreckage or not finding the missing pieces that constituted my past.”

    I was fortunate enough to have a relatively carefree youth. My husband is another story. Your words above mean so much – this is what he has been contending with, particularly in the last 5 years or so. He is still a work in progress (we all are on some level) but is beginning to find relative peace. Fear overtakes him on at times, and we do our best to work through it together. I may have to share your post with him, since I know some days he feels like no one could understand the fear he feels.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Amber,

      I am so happy that you had a carefree youth! My heart goes out to your husband. I know the pain he contends with, and I wish him peace and lightness. A couple of years ago, wow, I never thought I would feel like this. There is hope. Even amid our fears, there is hope.


  2. Once again, your words come at the perfect time to touch and soothe my heart. I once asked God to help me form a new image of myself as a baby, and He graciously changed the image from a naked, screaming infant all alone in a cold, dark room to one of His mighty hand cradling me and bathing me in His warm light and love. I don’t want to dig around my past anymore. I will remember that the healed broken places are strong enough to hold me up! Blessings and thanks, El.

    • Aw, Cindy, a big hug for your aching heart. Your image of God cradling you in His mighty hand is such a gorgeous one! Thank you for telling me about it–it warmed me inside! And I hear you re digging in the past. Whew. Done a lot of that! Blessings right back at you hun. xo.

  3. El…you just got me. You nailed how I have been feeling lately. Feeling like What if I can’t find all the pieces. You wrote a beautiful post her and I am so grateful that you are my friend. You gave me some much needed hope today. I love you. Ella xoxo

    • Ah, Ella, I did not know you were struggling–sensed it, but didn’t know. I am so sorry–I know how hard it is when you cannot find all the pieces. Struggled with that for years. And I am so very grateful to be your friend!! I love you too.

  4. Oh how I love these healing posts. I love that you remember where you come from and the light of health in front of you. Thanks for sharing your sun, El.

  5. “They say that a fractured bone once healed, is stronger in the broken places.” What an amazing metaphor for life. I echo Renee’s comment – this is one for the Freshly Pressed Gods! And it occurred to me while reading, that though I’m not a runner, I feel like I’ve gone on a run while reading your posts, and achieved the kind of peace and clarity that you must do while running. It’s so liberating. Thank you for that – and I certainly hope your ankle is feeling better 🙂

    • Thank you so much Jules!! I am humbled by what you and Renee said (and grinning with gratitude)! And gosh, thank you as far as telling me that you feel like you’re running with me–I love to have the company and I know we’d be cracking up on the trail!! Oh–my ankle feels great–thank you! xo.

  6. This is so lovely and moving, El. What a wonderful reminder that even in the pain of life, there is beauty and healing if we look for it. Ditto to Renee and Jules – FP worthy for sure!

  7. Reblogged this on Know My Worth and commented:
    I love this post, have been contemplating it for a few days, and want to share with you now. I know sometimes I have a fear of not being whole, of being broken, but really, all that we go through makes us stronger… thank you El, for such a lovely new lens for me to view life through. <3

  8. Hi El, I just reblogged on Know My Worth (I’ve never done that before, so I hope it worked). Thank you so much – such an insightful way to view our healing. God’s grace does explain how we can rise from rubble – our spirits are so much stronger than we realize. xoxo