Beautifully Broken: The Story

A little over a year ago I met a special little person. Her story gripped my heart. At the age of five she had already seen so much pain and heartache to last a lifetime. Having been removed from her biological home due to unsafe conditions, she entered the foster care system. For the next couple of years she bounced from one foster home, to the home of distant relatives across the country, to where I finally met her: in the presence of a dear friend of mine.

My friend and her husband had been praying and working the steps of the foster care/adoption system to find a child that they could eventually welcome into their family. At first glance one would be oblivious to the path that the child had traveled to get to this point. That afternoon she danced around chattering on about her day, laughing and running with her new siblings. Yet under the surface bubbled a story of pain, suffering, abandonment, fear, and great sadness.

I watched the young girl pirouette and skip around mesmerized by her positive energy. Like a little fairy she jumped from a low planter wall, but instead of landing flat on her feet she stumbled and landed on her hands and knees scraping the cement sidewalk. My friend and I lurched forward by instinct to render help. Our biological daughters would have cried out in pain, fussed, demanded attention and a Band-Aid. Not this little one.

She quickly stood up, brushed off her knees, clapped her hands together and declared “I am alright. I am fine. I am OK. Everyone gets hurt sometimes.” Before she ran off, I could see the pinpricks of blood on her knee and the swelling of tears teetering in her eyes. She was hurt, not to any severe extent, but enough to qualify a physical or emotional response. I had just observed a literal “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” moment. All the pain, vulnerability, and emotion that teetered on spilling out got sucked back in to her petite frame, gulped down into some safe locked away space. What life experience would condition a five-year old to react this way?

My heart broke.

My heart broke for the girl.  My heart broke for anyone who doesn’t feel worthy or safe to express their pain, vulnerabilities, and wounds. God reached down into my heart at that moment and said “look…look again…that is you.” My heart broke for me.

Whether it is the survivor’s guilt I carry, the years of stuffing my emotions away to “be strong” and not show weakness, or the feeling that nearly four years is enough time for my grieving to be over, I have become the queen of “I am fine.” My bootstraps should be worn out by now. I am that little girl.

You might be that child too: afraid of showing your true emotions and pain, in fear of rejection or indifference. Voice silenced because you feel unimportant or undeserving. Plowing through life deadened to disappointment or building up walls to protect a broken heart. Your own pain, hardship, sadness does not compare to that of others. Feeling like you are not worthy, you suck all pain and hurt into a safe locked away place deep inside.

God reaches down into your heart and says “Look…Look again…This is you…Beautifully Broken…Perfectly Imperfect…You are worthy of healing.”

I returned home that day with the experience fresh in my mind and I wrote, Beautifully Broken, a poem of healing and renewal. A poem of hope for the future: my future, the little girl’s future and your future.

A few weeks ago I found myself across the table from my little friend, but this time I was in her presence to celebrate her official adoption day. We celebrated that a safety net had been secured, and that a family had become complete. Most importantly I silently remembered her reaction so many months ago, and I could see her deep wounds starting to heal. Her fear, stress, and anxiety built up from the past was being exposed, and she was learning to express and not lock away her feelings. Such hard hard work, but she is worth it.

We are all worth it.


For those (when I say “those”, I mean ME) who may need a reminder that we are all worthy of healing, here is an encore of the poem. Enjoy.


Beautifully Broken

She Falls

Scrapped up, bruised and bleeding

Tears just teetering on the edge of overflowing

Everyone gets hurt sometimes

I am fine she says

Brushing off the pain

Holding in the sobs

A Band-Aid

Is secured 

Covering the scrapped knee

Protecting the wounded elbow

Shielding the aching heart

She bounces back like nothing happened

Her past is forgotten

Memories held at bay by a thin strip of latex

Fears adhered securely underneath

Emotions locked away

Depending on that Band-Aid

To make it all better

A Band-Aid

Covers, protects and shields temporarily

It does not heal

It is not a cure

The wound scabs

The pain lies in wait

For the next jostle

The next mistake

The next stab

The next fall

The next memory triggered

Of the pain, hurt, anger, worry, fear, grief, frustration

Nothing is forgotten

The wound fails to be resolved

She Heals

Ripping off the Band-Aid

Embracing the past

Becoming aware of the wounds

Familiar with the heaviness of emotion

Conscious of the pain

Willing to admit defeat

Ready to be vulnerable

Volunteering her heart

Surrendering her soul

Mindful that these trials are

Shaping and strengthening 

Repairing and building

Until she emerges

Beautifully broken

Perfectly imperfect

Whole

8 thoughts on “Beautifully Broken: The Story

  1. Lovely, Rory! Lovely Rory! I feel just a little closer to you and your good friend! Thank you for sharing! You each are always in my heart.

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  2. Oh Miss Rory, my heart is in my throats after reading this piece. And your poem! We are all like that little girl.
    In the special needs mama works, we think/I think we have to be FINE with our child’s disability. I’m ok, it’s going to be ok, I can find joy in midst. But sometimes we are not fine and need to scream, cry, and grieve.
    That little girl is so lucky to have a new family, to have you, too.
    Thanks for sharing…
    And remember there is no deadline for grieving. Kory was amazing, and it’s an unimaginable loss for you, your kids.
    Xoxo jess

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  3. Lovely and sad at the same time. My niece is adopted. She, too came out of the foster care system at 5. You could be describing her. She is now 14 and has had some bumps in the road but is doing quite well. I tell her all the time she’s the strongest person I know. Thanks for your beautiful words and poem.

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  4. Love, love, love the reality in all of your blogs. You bless my heart that hurts at times too and I tell myself I have to brush it off….. Xoxo

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  5. Rory.
    Thank you again for putting to paper what we all feel. We are all “soldiers” that carry on and keep going. Thank you for being that friend that I can tear down those walls with and be vulnerable.
    And no 4 years is not enough… I’m still grieving the loss of Kory. He will live forever in our hearts but I dearly miss my bear hugs and his laugh…I still hear it sometimes.
    I think of him often and the many lessons he taught me and my kids.
    I love you my chosen sister
    Liz

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