Someday, precious boy, you will ask me the story of your birth. How much will I tell you, I wonder? You only recently marked one month in this world, so this kind of pondering is admittedly premature. But how will I be able to communicate to you that your arrival was pure miracle, yet simultaneously tinged with brokenness?
The short version, beloved child, is that they had to break you to get you out. Your shoulders were simply too large for my bones. But our doctor was a pro, and she sprang into action immediately when she recognized what was happening. Knowing that time was of the essence, she chose the lesser of two traumas, cracking your tiny matchstick of a humerus.
And so, in the weeks since, your dad and I have been wrapping your little arm with yards and yards of bandage and asking God to mend the bones he knit together in the first place.
“Babies are like starfish,” the orthopedic surgeon assures me as I look at the jagged bones on the X-Ray screen. You will never remember this, I know. And I’m not sure how much pain you can even register at this point. But we will remember, your dad and I. And we feel the pain like a fracture to our hearts.
As I gaze into your blue-gray eyes that seem at once innocent and wise beyond their years, I wonder if the pain we feel isn’t just about this particular injury. As hard as it is to see such a tiny body hurting—especially a vulnerable someone who is entirely dependent on us—it feels even weightier than that.
The truth is, this is merely the first of many encounters with brokenness you will face. The broken bone on the first day of your life is but a foreshadowing of fractures to come. We are frail and human, made of tender bits like bone and tendon, heart and soul. This means we have the capacity to feel deeply and love with abandon, but it also leaves us susceptible to profound wounds.
And as much as I want to protect you from injuries of all sorts—body, mind, and heart—I am aware of my own frailty as much as yours. I would take on a grizzly bear in hand-to-hand combat if the occasion arose, but despite my best efforts, I won’t be able to stop you from getting hurt. And it wouldn’t be good for you if I could.
They say a broken bone grows back stronger after it heals, and I have to think the same is true of the other parts of us too. The places where we’ve been hurt can rebuild us with more resilience, while somehow making us more tender in all the best ways too.
My prayer for you, today and as you grow, is that you will know that brokenness is not an end point. It is the beginning of your story of redemption. If we let them, the broken places can ultimately be entry points for grace.
I love you, my broken and beautiful son.
Man is born broken; he lives by mending. The grace of God is the glue.Eugene O’Neill