Sometimes you read a book at precisely the right time for precisely the right reason, and take away precisely the right message. So it was for me and the book Broken For You by Stephanie Kallos.
It’s the story of people who attempt to hide their brokenness by changing their names, taking on fruitless quests, hiding in lonely isolation or liberally using Guarnier Nutrisse Conditioning Color Masque Number 68.
Wanda Schultz has too many cracks to count. The product of a broken home, she begins fixing things at age six in a canny effort to fit in at her adoptive aunt and uncle’s home. As an adult, she chooses a “fixing” career, too, becoming a professional stage manager, fixing productions, actors, props and sets. The more she tries to ignore her brokenness the more cracks and fissures grow until, literally, her body is shattered and she must come to terms with her authentic self.
Margaret Hughes lives alone in a mansion, among the ghosts of people and things that once held so much meaning but also so much guilt. When Margaret opens her house to boarders — Wanda is the first — she finds the glue to mend her fractured life and let go of her paralyzing guilt and shame.
How many of us spend an inordinate amount of energy hiding our broken places? Pretending they don’t exist? We seek out the healing adhesive we think can be found in that one person, that one experience, that one surgical procedure, that one elusive Holy Grail of Something that will make us perfect, and make our troublesome pasts disappear. Yet, it’s only in accepting our broken places and applying a little grout and glue, that we are able to accept the authentic, happy mosaic of our lives.
From the book: “Look then at the faces and bodies of people you love. The explicit beauty that comes not from smoothness of skin or neutrality of expression, but from the web of experience that has left its mark. Each face, each body is its own living fossilized record. A record of cats, combatants, difficult births; of accidents, cruelties, blessings. Reminders of folly, greed, indiscretion, impatience. A moment of time, of memory, preserved, internalized and enshrined within and upon the body. You need not be told that these records are what render your beloved beautiful. If God exists, He is there, in the small cast-off pieces, rough and random and no two alike.”
Beauty, then, has nothing to do with age, or position, or value, or perfection. Beauty lies in the ability to look fearlessly at your own broken spots, mend them and make a new creation. Beauty comes when you allow others to know you for exactly who you are — chipped, cracked, fractured — and whole despite your broken places.