The English language has many words that are swollen with meaning. And the word "breach" is one of them that strikes terror in my heart every time I hear it.
Picture this...you're sitting in a darkened theater. The music pounds ominously. The actors are just barely safe on the other side of the retaining wall. And then....all of a sudden...someone says the words that send shivers up your spine, letting you know that all may be lost:
"We have a breach!!"
A breach is never good. Usually cities are flooded. Aliens come pouring in, or worse, the Titanic sinks. Just take a look at the word's definition:
1. the act or a result of breaking; break or rupture.
2. an infraction or violation, as of a law, trust, faith, or promise.
3. a gap made in a wall, fortification, line of soldiers, etc.; rift; fissure.
4. a severance of friendly relations.
5. Obsolete. wound.
Do you see what I'm saying? Really...look at all these terribly descriptive words:
Each of these conveys such utter destruction.
Sidenote: in the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that it can also mean, "the leap of a whale above the surface of the water," which is actually a really amazing and majestic site...I've seen it for myself in Hawaii. However, it doesn't fit in with my blog topic, so you know...I'm not putting it in. Writer's perogative and all that...)
I suppose you're wondering where I'm going with this little walk through the dictionary? Well, I was doing some thinking...you know, when I have the spare mental brainpower...and I was doing it at my favorite thinking place: Target.
Say what you will, but Target is a sanctuary for me under the right circumstances. (It can also be a carnival of crazy...as it was on Friday...but that was with 1 return, 4 children, a cart full of groceries, and a sheaf of coupons.) The right circumstances are just me, myself and I with 1 shopping cart, a diet pepsi from the food court, and plenty of time. I can really have a great time crusing the aisles, checking prices, trying on a shirt or some shoes, planning strategies to get a cart full of groceries at the cheapest price. It's my bliss.
However , the other bonus is that I have plenty of time and space to just think...which if you are a parent, you know is in short supply. And the word, breach, is what I thought about. Okay, yes, I had just finished a novel of that title, but actually, I had forgotten that at the moment (although it was surely in my subconscious). I was thinking about the word in the context of definition #4: a severance of friendly relations.
And really, is there anything more terrible than severing (or being severed from) friendly relations? Of course it's easier to cut off relationship with people who have gone over to the "dark side," or maybe are just big meanies. But, "friendly" relationships? Ouch. That hurts.
It might have been that friend in third grade who turned on you on the playground just so she could hang out with the popular kids. It could have been your best high school friend who went after the guy she knew you liked. Or, it might have been something even more horrendous like a spouse who cheated on you and left you with a gaping hole in your soul.
I'm sure we all have a person that comes to mind even as you read these words. Because we've all been on the receiving end of a relational breach. And, I'm sure that most of us have even been on the giving end of creating a relational breach. We all have good reasons, I'm sure. "The relationship was just too draining." "My needs weren't being met in that friendship." "He/she is not good for my emotional health right now." We've all heard it and most likely have been there.
Please hear me...I'm in no way saying that there aren't good reasons for making a break in certain relationship scenarios. Sometimes it's the only sane and healthy choice. But that's not what I'm talking about.
I'm talking about the type of relationship that is crusing along just fine. You laugh together; you eat together; you share your hearts and lives together. And, then...there is a little crack. You might slap some putty on that thing and paint over it and carry on. But, then another fissure occurs, and this one is bigger and harder to patch. Wounds are made by words that are said or unsaid, and actions done, or not done.
And then you have a full on rupture, that leaves you on one side, and your loved one on the other.
"Ladies and Gentlemen...we have a breach."
And, it's painful. So, so, painful. Why? The tying of two hearts together in friendship, marriage, or family life happens as you share joy, tears and life together. There's a lot of time and effort that goes into binding yourself together with someone. When a breach happens, there is no polite and careful unraveling of the strings that have held you together. It's more like a sharp sword that comes slicing down through those cords, parting tissue and muscle in the process. And, it hurts.
Betrayal of trust, loss of a shared dream, division of property, realization that the vulnerability you've allowed has left you...vulnerable. These are only a few of the byproducts of a breach.
But it goes deeper than even that. There is genuine loss. When you have truly loved someone....when you've walked through terrible times with someone...when you've cried because you've seen tears in their eyes and they have done the same for you...when you've laid open your soul and said, "this is who I am...c'mon inside"...when you've done all that and that person is separate from you, it's a loss that can defy description.
Because you just miss her. You just really long for his company. There's a void left by their departure that is not easily filled by someone or something else. There can and should be a legitimate period of mourning for what was and is no longer.
And sometimes the breach can be repaired (and thankfully I do know of some wonderful stories of marriages and friendships that have been restored), but sometimes they aren't, or rather they haven't been yet.
So, I'm back to the darkened theater with my heart-pounding in my throat as the characters on the screen try to hide from the effects of inevitable breach. Yes, the breach is bad. It's an ugly gaping hole that allows much pain and trouble in.
However, it can also let things out.
Do we really and truly know what is within us (or within another) until we're broken? There are really only two options of what can come out.
Bitterness or Betterness.
Yes, I am aware that I made up that last word (writer's perogative, remember?), but it just fits. Only when I'm cracked apart will I know whether what comes oozing out is self-pity and bitterness or acceptance and betterness. I'm not saying that it's easy and there isn't a grieving process. After all, when a part of your life and heart is cut out, it not only hurts -- it takes time to heal. And, yes, there's literally a chunk missing for awhile....
there is healing! When I was doing some lite research on the word breach, I stumbled upon "biblical references," and this one in particular:
"You have made the earth tremble;
You have broken it;
Heal its breaches, for it is shaking."
There's no question that there is brokenness -- that there are and will be breaches. But there is also the hope of healing -- for the cessation of the life shaking and breaking.
I'm not naive enough to believe that I've seen the last of painful breaches in my life. But I do have the comfort of knowing that it's not necessarily the breaking that is the most important thing. Instead -- it's the mending.