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Rochester, NY, 14620


Broken When I Arrived, Broken When I Leave

Andrea Burke


I was broken as I came into this world. For nearly 56 seconds, I didn’t breathe. Any parent will tell you those first silent seconds are excruciating as you wait. My parents waited. For nearly an eternal minute.

Then my legs. There was the issue of my legs. The shorter one. The hip that didn’t form correctly. I came in silent and malformed. Deformed. Broken.

For months and years, I was in and out of operating rooms. My legs were pinned and stabilized, scarred and wrapped in plaster. I dragged myself around in an army crawl, affectionately earning the nickname “walrus” from an older sibling while my broken body healed in a cast that kept me immovable from the waist down.

Broken when I arrived. 

Scars are interesting things. They have the potential to scream in nerve pain or go completely numb. I can remember being a child, running my finger along all of my scars, tracing the ones on my knees, my hips, my thighs, my stomach, and realizing I felt nothing. A part of me that wasn’t a part of me. Broken. A part of me that told a story but a story from which I felt somewhat detached. 

My heart would go on to drag more raw wounds across my own memory. Searing marks of error. Scars that screamed with pain for years until the One with the balm drew near. Scars that went numb because sometimes healing means losing something that was once alive.

A few years ago, the news of the kidney disease that is slowly destroying my kidneys and liver came suddenly. Like a snap in my normal day to day living, the words fell disjointed into my lap. It’s taken years for what is happening inside of me, invisible and undercover, to start to show up in the way I move, live, and breathe. Except now I feel the discomfort and unease of a body that is broken. Now I have regular appointments on the calendar that remind me. Medication taken in a steady rhythm of routine, reminding me that there isn’t a cure. Just buying time. “Get blood work done” marked on my calendar with a star so I don’t forget that this is important, life or death, broken. 

Broken when I arrived. I’ll be broken when I leave. 

And lately when I feel the acute reminders that my body has betrayed its own flesh and blood, I think of Jesus. I think of the night he dined with the men who would betray him. The bread broken, the wine poured, the knowledge that betrayal and brokenness was the way of mankind and that was why he was here anyway. 

I think of this as I feel another pang of pain, another message from my doctor, another prescription in the mail.

His body, the incarnate Son, the unbroken passover lamb, who willingly laid down his life, allowed his flesh to be split, his blood to be spilled, who knew the feeling of when your body gives out. The man who gave his body for his body. He who knows what the betrayal of your own flesh feels like. The man who knew that we were irrevocably broken from the moment we screamed our first breath until the moment we raggedly breathe our last. Broken when we arrive, Broken when we leave. 

And so he came to make a way for us to be made whole in Him. So that when we leave these bodies of death, we will be whole. For once. For the first time. Completely, wholly unbroken. His hands which have the scars of redemption. The scars of atonement. The scars of undoing brokenness. Scarred so that someday the scars that I trace my fingers along will be erased, revived, restored. 

The promise was never that we’d be completely whole here. It was never a guarantee that this aging and cursed world was the pinnacle of being whole. The promise was that through the brokenness, through the raw edges of incurable bodies, scarred knees, wounded hearts, we’d see that he was making all things new.

Broken when I arrived. Broken when I leave.

And then, at last, whole.