One of my favorite quotes is from Ernest Hemingway in A Farewell to Arms. He writes “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places”. Truer words have never been written! Each of us one day will face a hardship that tests our very fiber, but if we make it through, we will grow and flourish. You assuredly learn from your mistakes, but you grow from your pain. The imperfections of this world are designed to test our mettle and prepare us for a more perfect world beyond.
Although the world breaks everyone in some way, many but not all become stronger in those broken places. What gifts have been bestowed on us, so we can be strong in the broken places? St. Paul provides us with the answer: Faith, Hope, and Love with the greatest being Love. As we end this year, let me provide three examples of these saving gifts through the lives of others.
Faith is trust in God and self that things will get better either in this world or the next. It isa powerful weapon in confronting hardship and in forging a new life. One example of abiding faith is St. John Paul II. As a priest and bishop, he showed faith that his beloved Poland wouldshake the bonds of oppression from the Soviet Union and it came to pass. As a new Pope, he had faith in the protection of Mary who shielded him from anassassin’s bullet. He later showed faith in the redemption of others by forgiving this would be assassin. As he aged, Saint John Paul II showed faith in God’s plan by showing us his weakness as he confronted Parkinson’s.
Hope is the belief that things will get better despite current hardships. Gandhi epitomizes hope to me. He faced obstacles and trials as he strove to establish the modern nation of India. Any one of the obstacles that he faced would have dissuaded a lesser person. But through the March to the Sea, the horror of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, and his many imprisonments, Gandhi retained his hope that the dignity of man would prevail. In his words, “To believe that what has not occurred in history will not occur at all, is to argue disbelief in the dignity of man.” Hope is the belief that the ultimate purpose of man will shine through despite the broken places.
Love is the greatest gift. It transforms the heart and soul. I have seen it do this to my brother David, his wife Debra, and his mother-in-law Marge. Debra is dealing with the debilitating disease of Aphasia and has been in a nursing facility since September. Please read more at this link https://www.gofundme.com/6d948wg . She can no longer speak and must use a respirator and eat through a feeding tube as she rehabilitates. Though she may not recover fully, she shows her love to David and Marge by getting up each day and taking on the rehabilitation exercises. Marge shows her love for her daughter by coming by daily and sharing time. Despite some of her own health issues, she is always there for her daughter in this time of hardship. Perhaps the most transformed by love is my brother David. We have had our occasional arguments over the years which is to be expected from a younger and older brother. He has in the last year become an inspiration to me and others. He is there after work every night to spend time with Debra and provide her with support. He also fights for his wife as he strives to get justice from the insurance company. I am inspired that the kid that used to tantalize me daily has been blessed with love in the broken places.
As we ring in this new year, let us learn from the examples above and strive to become stronger, more perfect in love! Let’s God’s glory shine through the broken places to be an inspiration for all to see.