On my way out the door this morning, tragedy struck at precisely 6:37 a.m. in my garage. My cell phone decided to leave the warmth of my hands, and to fly violently toward the concrete and land in a way that can only be described as sickening. In true INFJ fashion I started wondering immediately what it all meant. What connection did I feel to my broken cellphone? After all, it is not just a cellphone. It is my calendar. It is my connection. It is my contact to the outside world when face to face is not an option. It is my friend. What does it all MEAN? (Yes, I see that look on your face. And yes, I did in fact have all of those thoughts at 6:37, and if not then, definitely by 6:40. I can’t help it if I’m a morning person.)
The way it broke was spectacular. It was the glass, the surface, the outer layer that the damage happened to, and it didn’t just shatter immediately. There was a big ugly smashed place where it looked awful, and for about half a second I thought the worst had past, but I watched as a spider web of more and more cracks spiraled all the way around the glass and covered the entire front screen.
Humans are like that. We are optimistic when we get hurt. “Just a flesh wound,” we think, when in reality, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Ground zero is just where it starts, the real damage is done once that initial crack is there. Soon, the outer shell of our humanness cracks so much that it seems just about hopeless. Before long, our brokenness changes the way we see everything. It becomes a filter through which we see the world.
The next thought that crossed my mind was whether the phone still would make calls and texts. What happens once something is broken? Is it still usable? As it turns out, yes, sometimes things can look beyond repair at the moment, but still function, even if not at 100%. At times when I used my phone today, I felt shards of glass fall out of the phone. Sometimes they stuck to my finger. Other times, they dropped to the floor making me hope I don’t find those the hard way. With almost every use, I was wishing my phone was in one piece again. Then something odd happened. I got used to the brokenness, and started feeling as though if forced to, this broken shattered phone could become my new normal and I could use it this way indefinitely. Each and every time I had convinced myself of this, I would attempt to do something on the phone and my fingertip would be sliced.
Isn’t that just like humans? When forced into a reality that is downright terrible, we will try to make the best of it. We can entertain ideas that we will be able to make things work. We make excuses for people, and we maintain relationships that are broken beyond repair because we tell ourselves it is just the surface. It is just that outer layer that is broken. Deep down, everything is fine, functional, and we can deal. But, just like my phone, those relationships will cut us; they will surprise us with the wounds they create. We can know it is broken, and still be shocked that we got hurt once again, and we feel foolish for being so shocked by it. Humans are quite different, because usually a cracked exterior is just a sign there is a deeper problem on the inside. Humans, unlike cell phones, crack from the inside out.
At the end of the day, I took my phone to the mall and had it repaired. I have a cellphone that looks like new, and a sore finger from the shards of glass poking me all day. Tomorrow, I’ll hold my phone a little tighter, and protect better than I did today. In a few days I will have probably forgotten the inconvenience of having this happen entirely. With broken people, it’s not that simple. We can’t just take shattered people to the mall and get a new outer shell for them to wear. With humans, the choices are not as simple as choosing to replace the glass, buying a different phone, or getting an upgrade, but wouldn’t it be nice?