The Best Kind of Broken

When the telephone rings at a certain late hour, you know it won’t be happy news. Anxiety and dread paralyze you with fear, even as you feel compelled to reach for the phone at superhuman speed.

It’s the emergency room calling: Come right away.

I knew he was sick, and suffering immensely in body and mind. Despite my best efforts, every conversation these past months had turned grim. Every new prescription chipped away at his sense of worth. He couldn’t sleep; could barely eat. He was tired of it all.

How should you feel when the person who counts you as a reason for living wants to leave your world? I felt little as I gathered the necessities—keys, wallet, bible, phone—and climbed into the car. I felt numb—or perhaps it was calm. Then the feeling came, slow and strong, rising like an underground river cracking through layers of stone: Love. And it broke me.

When I reached his bedside, we took each other’s hands. A current of love circuited between our palms and down our fingertips. When words finally came, they were of lovely things: sheep grazing Irish pastures; train rides; bakery sweets; blooms in springtime. No sadness, no complaints—just comfortable familiarity.

And then Jesus walked in. Wearing blue nurse’s scrubs and wire glasses, she bent down to speak a blessing into the patient’s ear. He smiled. Then Jesus turned to me, caressed my arm, and said, “God bless you,” before sending us off. With those words, that gentle touch, Love’s river broke surface and welled into my eyes like tears have never done before.

You never know how you’ll react in emergencies, but there’s no way of bracing yourself for the immensity of God’s love. Sometimes it bursts up from within, collapsing walls of false strength and pride; other times, it crashes over you from without. It’s strong and shattering, unpredictable and utterly overwhelming. But I learned in that hospital room it’s the best kind of “broken” there is.

-Megan L. Anderson

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