Fragile ... But NOT Broken

“I was packing jars of jam, and I was going to write ‘FRAGILE’ on the box.  But instead, I felt compelled to write the words ‘VERY FRAGILE.’ At that moment it felt like God was telling me that the condition of my life was also fragile … but that He was with me.” 

She explained to me that it wasn’t just packing up jars of jam. She was packing up her life, as she had known it. She was packing away hopes and dreams.

My heart was right there with her. Without additional words, I understood exactly what she was saying and what she felt!

I thought of Shakespeare’s words: “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?” We are all fragile in our own ways, and life itself is very fragile at moments.

Fragile is NOT a negative condition. It simply means that the person (or situation, or relationship, etc.) needs to be handled with care. To extend the definition out to very fragile … that would mean handling with tender loving care.

If you follow my blog, you know that I’ve been writing a series about World Changers.  Through the years I have noticed this about World Changers: they honor people and their lives as if they were fragile; and they embrace life as if it was fragile as well.

When we speak of a person’s heart, or life, or relationship as being fragile, does that mean weak? Absolutely not!

Instead, I think it means something that is to be honored, respected, and well appreciated.

I’ve heard it said that we are “not fragile like a flower, but fragile like a bomb!” No one thinks of a bomb as something weak!

I bet you’ve had a fragile moment in your life.  And what you needed most at that moment was to be honored, respected, and well appreciated. That is quite different from being weak.

Through the years, I’ve noted that that’s how World Changers regard people, life, circumstances, and situations. 

It’s one of the reasons I put a specific exercise into my signature workshop, “The Extraordinary Power of Purpose.”

In it, I help people look at their perspectives and perceptions.  I put them in various situations and invite them to determine whether a statement or an action is one of two things:

1. A loving response 

2. A cry for help

Then I give them some additional data and perspective, and the transformation is powerful. Suddenly, they identify persons, situations, and life as fragile. Their responses change dramatically.  At that moment, the World Changer in them comes to life.

It is 0K to be fragile. You will heal.  You will become stronger.  But it’s absolutely heroic to be a World Changer who sees the fragility in others, in life, in relationships; and then chooses to respect, honor, and appreciate.

If you are like my friend, in a fragile moment currently, packing away jars of jam, along with hopes and dreams, here are some things that you can do to regain your strength:

1. Find a World Changer who will respect and honor your moment of fragility.  Who will walk with you, holding you up if necessary, until you regain your strength.

2. Find a World Changer who will see your sensitivity at this moment as a gift. Who will help you perceive things differently; who will help you be more sensitive to others. Then you will be more receptive to any support or help that is offered. 

3. Be kind to yourself. Many of us shame ourselves or demand that we act as if nothing has ever happened. Something has happened. If you were quite ill, you would give yourself time to rest and heal. Be kind enough to do so in this situation.

4. Make a decision that this will make you better, not bitter. Things happen that are terribly unfair. Many times things that we had no control over, and certainly did not deserve. But we have 100% of the voting rights to decide whether we become better or bitter. Choose better!

5. Refuse to punish yourself or the world that needs you by deciding that you are “damaged goods.” Certainly your heart may be broken. Your world may be shaken at its roots. But that does not make you “damaged goods.” It makes you temporarily vulnerable.  It may even make you question life, and your role in it. But you will heal; you will rise again.  And we all need you!

I bet you know someone, some situation or relationship that is currently in a fragile state. Now let’s consider what you, as a World Changer, can do to help in such a situation. 

When faced with the fragility in life, in people, and in relationships, here’s what you can do as a World Changer:

1. Let them know that you notice and you care. You don’t need to fix it.  And unless you are certain you have an excellent solution, you don’t need to offer solutions.  Your ability to speak up and say you notice, and show that you care, is the greatest gift ever!

2. Extend an outstretched hand. Whether that hand is to take theirs and squeeze it, whether that hand is to reach down and help them get up again, or whether that hand is to invite a hug… extend your hand!

3. Knock off the “just get over it” or “shaming” talk. Trust me, they would like to just get over it.  They likely already think there’s something wrong with them that they can’t.   Likewise, “shaming” talk about their lack of faith is not helpful: “If you had more faith, you’d be acting like this didn’t matter!” Stop that!  I am all about faith, but trying to shame someone into faith rarely works.

4. Offer to walk with them—both literally and emotionally. Going on a walk and listening shows great respect. Often they don’t need any feedback. They just need a listening ear. Plus, the very activity of walking releases neurochemicals that will help them feel better. Walking them through it emotionally is a great gift. Ask them questions such as this: What happened? How do you feel? How can I help? 

5. Call forth the potential and greatness in them. Likely, they have lost sight of any potential, and certainly can’t see any greatness in them. You see it. Call it forth. And regardless of your religious background, offer a prayer. Sometimes just knowing that someone cares enough to ask for help from a higher source is so very comforting.

World Changers live by the words of a wise Japanese author, Haruki Murakami:  “Life is a lot more fragile than we think. So you should treat others in a way that leaves no regrets.“

I have had my experiences with negativity associated with being fragile. When I was in the second grade, I heard my dad talking to my mother about my night terrors. He said, “It’s like she’s just so f’ing fragile.”  It was Saturday night. I had never heard the word “fragile” before, nor the adjective before it. From the tone of his voice, I assumed it was very bad.

The next morning in Sunday school, my sweet Sunday School teacher was taking prayer requests. She said that it was important as little girls that we learn to take things to God. Although I normally never said a word in the class, I hoped that maybe God would help me if I told her. So I asked her to pray that God would help me to stop beIng “f’ing fragile.” 

Her shocked expression made me think she might faint!  Then I knew it must be really, really bad!  She never even said the prayer. So I knew I was doomed to whatever that meant. I wish my dad had known that it only meant I needed tender loving care, instead of his harsh and damaging treatment.

How refreshing it was to me, when I learned later in life that being fragile should be honored, respected, and appreciated.  Long ago, my fragility, at least regarding night terrors, became history.  But the World Changer in me has developed great respect and admiration for the fragile moments in life, and in the lives of others.

As you can imagine, my dear friend’s story of “packed away jars of jam, hopes and dreams” moved me. 

I will walk with her. She will rise again. She will heal and be even stronger.  She will be a powerful World Changer. 

The same is true for you. If you are in a fragile condition, I promise that you will heal. You are not weak. You are not broken. You simply need to be treated with tender loving care. You will rise again. As a World Changer!

And to all of my World Changers out there, look for those fragile moments in others, and walk with them until they rise again.