If there is a topic I always avoid speaking of, it's personal matter. But if it bothers my heart, if it makes my mind restless, if it reveals a truth I feel the need to pour out, then my God, I'm writing it.

During church yesterday, I heard the pastor say, mid-sermon, about how he "came from a broken home". Long story short, he told the story of how he held onto Christ and finally made something of himself, etc etc. He delivered a good message, but the two words kept echoing inside my head.

Broken home.

I don't live under a rock; I've heard this term said probably a thousand different times before. 
"I really liked what he said, because I too came from a broken home-"
"He's had a tough life, a broken home child-"

"They're also from a broken home, but wow, they're really strong-"
I usually stop listening right there.

Not an uncommon phrase, nor an uncommon case, broken home describes "a family in which the  parents have divorced or separated." To countless others, it describes something even more complicated.

I will not shed light on my past, and I won't roll my eyes bitterly if you say it in front of me. But for something that I've understood and experienced myself, it is not a phrase that I like to use.

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The dictionary explains the word broken as having been "fractured; no longer in working order". "Failed" or "ended" when spoken alongside the word "family". So to me, uttering these words feels like declaring a family as permanently damaged.

But what do we mean when we call a home broken? Who draws the line?

We've constructed this entire category for families with separated parents, but do we need another term to use for the families in which the parents are still legally married, but no longer talk to each other? What about one that's been fighting for years, living under the same roof with no communication and no love? Would that still be considered "whole"?

Could a woman today call her single-mother-neighbour's family broken, then come back to her own house and fight with her husband as they do everyday until well past midnight, all inside her un-broken home?

What are we calling "broken"? Or rather, who?

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As someone who was neither born into a "perfect" family, nor raised in one, I first grew accustomed to it. Growing up, words like "came out of a broken home family" was plastered as a part of my identity. I've acknowledged the parts of my past that have shaped me into who I am today, but I remember how feeling obliged to label myself a "broken home child" made me feel like a cardboard box they slapped the FRAGILE sticker onto. 

After stepping into new areas of my faith, though, I'm starting to realize how much I dislike hearing that term. It has nothing to do with personal shame. I just don't think God would see something broken and leave it that way.

I believe that He's planned everything exquisitely. Every year of my life, to every minute I'm breathing. For every storm I needed to sail through, He already saw the entire ocean in a much bigger picture. As imperfect as my past may have been, today I stand here grateful for the things that were once broken, for they remind me of how He's mended every single piece. If not my home, then at least my heart.

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Making peace with the past has nothing to do with what the world expects of you. It has a lot to do, however, with how you choose to see yourself. When a person uses the term "broken home", it's okay to choose not to identify yourself with it as well.

Now, I never wish to erase the things I couldn't change, but I do wish that society could learn to view it in a different light. I know my household isn't perfect, but by God's grace, it now fills my heart with love every passing day. We still share our jokes and moments that to me, will forever be irreplaceable. My family can be a lot of things. Broken is not one of them.

Remain careful of the words you say. Even though "broken home" doesn't sting me anymore, I imagine they'll sting a lot more to a 5-year-old girl whose dad just "moved away", or a little boy who still couldn't understand why his parents had to go to court.

Do me a favour; let's not associate them with something broken for the rest of their lives. Let's not make them feel like another casualty in a set of divorce statistics. Let's not wrap that label around their neck just so people can "understand." You don't know if it might break them even more. You don't know if it might push them back just as they're starting to heal.

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After writing all of this out, I know that I could never control how you chose to perceive this message. But please know that I'm not aiming to argue in a heated debate; just to hopefully open a room large enough for discussion.

This was long, and more personal and raw than my other posts, but there comes a time where I need to write like this. There are things I always avoid speaking of. But if it bothers my heart, if it makes my mind restless, if it reveals a truth I feel the need to pour out, 

then my God, 

I'm writing it.