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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Winning essay, Sarah Torna Roberts: "I didn't want to be broken."

Congratulations to Sarah Torna Roberts, whose essay was voted blog readers' favorite in my guest series, Found Wanting. Sarah Torna Robers

I hope you'll check out more of Sarah's writing online. When you have the chance, pop over to her space, and leave some encouragement. You can't imagine what that does for writers who linger long inside the hollow silence of their own minds.

Congratulations also to Larry Shallenberger, for his runner-up post, "I wanted to know what I wanted." Find more of Larry's writing at

And finally, congratulations to Megan Hill, for her bronze-medal finish with, "I want your blessing." Megan writes frequently for Christianity Today's Her.meneutics.

And here's Sarah's post again:

* * * * *

Once upon a time, I dated a boy. He had that all-American, boy-next-door look, a wide smile and kind eyes. He had two parents and one sister, who I adored. They were the kind of family who had thousands of inside jokes, who barbecued all summer long. From the first time I walked through their door at 15-years-old, I was welcomed with warmth and loving teasing.

We dated on and off through all the hormone driven theatrics of high school, falling apart and back together, but I faithfully believed we were in it forever, through all the pitfalls of long distance, through the slow changes that happen in those hard and flashing years.

One night through tears over a crackly landline, he confessed that my life, my broken family, my daddy issues, it was all too much. He couldn’t see a way through it, not with his glasses of wholeness, of one home and two parents and Sunday barbecues.

He took it back almost as soon as he said it, said he didn’t mean it.

It cemented though. I couldn’t stop it from reframing my expectations from then on. I had once hoped that my messy childhood would be the low point in my story, that beauty would rise from its ashes. Instead, I discovered it might hold my wholeness hostage indefinitely.

I grew wary. Our relationship broke.

When I fell in love again, it was with another nice, cute boy. He had parents who were still happily married and one sister, who I adored. They were the kind of family who watched the same movies together every Christmas, who had dozens of inside jokes, and more than a decade of memories at a cabin in Northern California. They welcomed me in and I wanted to believe them, him.

But I kept waiting for the bottom to fall out, surely his history wouldn't be able to handle mine.

He was whole, a man built on the firm foundation of parental security and the same house since he was 3 years old. I'd moved 12 times. How would he deal with my broken places?

He called them beautiful. He said all I'd experienced, all I understood about a harder side of life, it added to not subtracted from who I was, from what I had to teach a man like him.

He wanted me to rock his boat.

And then he looked at my family, the one I thought would hold me back, and he told me he loved them. My mom was funny, my sister was sweet and he’d never had brothers. My dad was a blast. They weren’t a liability, but a blessing to him, to me.

“But, we’re so broken,” I reminded him. “Everyone’s broken,” he shrugged off my reminder.

All of us, in all our different places and experiences.

I didn’t want to be broken. None of us do. But, of course… “that’s how the light gets in.”

* * * * *

Sarah Torna Roberts is a writer who lives in California with her husband and four sons. She blogs at where she digs around her in her memories, records her present, and is constantly holding her faith up to the light. She snacks at 2 AM with great regularity, is highly suspicious of anyone who doesn’t love baseball (Go Giants!), and would happily live in a tent by the sea.