“We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.”
—The Breakfast Club
My favorite movie, hands down, is The Breakfast Club, and if you know me much at all, you’ve probably heard me say that before. When I was doing youth ministry, I kept the classic movie poster associated with the flick up in my office. I’ve preached about it. Written about it. And can quote it endlessly. It’s super annoying to actually watch the movie with me. Because I say the words right along with the actors:
Does Barry Manilow know you raided his wardrobe?
Is that clear Mr. Bender? / Crystal.
Eat. My. Shorts.
You get my point. I love, love, love TBC. And I used it in youth ministry all the time because it’s a great exploration of what it means to get past our surface opinions and stereotypes and really get to know the heart of another person. Look, I know it’s all midwestern white kids–so in terms of real diversity, it’s, well…not so much. Still, there are lessons to be learned as Claire, Brian, John, Andy and Allison discover the things about them that are not so different as they thought. Important lessons, about really digging in and being brave enough to see that the one person you thought you’d never have anything in common with suddenly gets you in a way you didn’t know was possible.
When I first learned to love TBC, what I saw is how different they all were: “…the brain, the athlete, the basket case, the princess and the criminal.” Each one of them so caught up in the way they’d allowed their families and social circles to define them that they could not see past the great divide of socioeconomic status. And learning to see past those differences becomes the lesson of their time together in Saturday detention.
Every March, a reminder goes around social media that it was on March 24th that the events of TBC took place. I smiled when I saw it this year, and took a sweet little trip down my TBC memory lane.
And then…then something struck me. I remembered it differently this time. Life experience, perhaps, lending a new lens. Here’s what occurred to me: It isn’t so much how different they all are that cuts to the chase. It’s how broken.
It’s how completely broken they are, each in their own way, and how that brokenness feeds their disconnect from one another.
Brian’s under so much pressure to excel academically he is actually contemplating (sort of) suicide. His reason for landing in detention amounts to a cry for help. John–well, it’s his MO. It’s what he’s known for, the constant trouble-making–and, generally speaking, we all often live up to what we’re “known for,” even when it isn’t in our best interest. Claire and Andy are caught in the demands of being popular–it’s hard to feel sorry for them at first, but something about them always got to me by the end, and I found myself seeing their popularity as more of a prison than anything else. And then there’s Allison–a question mark of a kid if there ever was one, but clearly battling her own demons.
Y’all, it isn’t that we’re all a little bizarre, and some of us hide it better than others, it’s that we’re all a little (or a lot) broken…smashed to bits by one thing or another in this life. And that brokenness, it can do one of two things. It can destroy us, or, it can lead us into more of what we were meant to be in the first place.
Some of us hide the brokenness better than others. Push it back from the forefront of our lives with practiced skill. This is never a winning strategy. Best case scenario, it leaves us unable to really live, just putting one foot in front of the other as we try to simply survive. Worst case scenario, it creates a denial that can often lead to bullying and anger. It never heals this way–just festers, infecting everything with its insistence on being known.
It is only when we face the brokenness, sit with it, gather up the wreckage and admit its having knocked us down, breathless, worn and afraid, that we’re able to find a way past it and into something whole (even if scarred at the edges). This is exactly what the TBC five do as they sit in that circle toward the movie’s end, the reality of their lives being made plain in heart-wrenching–and yet healing–ways.
The great question of course, is Brian’s game-changer of a query at the movie’s end, “What happens on Monday?” What happens when they return to the reality of of their life at school? In the moment together they’ve deconstructed the things that kept them apart.
Brian’s question is never really answered. Not in full. And we never find out if that deconstruction holds–we’re just given a glimpse, as they are, of what could be. Of what’s possible beyond what they’ve known.
I’d argue that such glimpses are the very things life is made of. The very thing that makes seeing past the brokenness possible. The very thing that helps us see that what could happen on Monday is something new, something brilliant, something that helps us rise, strong, from painfully shattered dreams and face the possibility of new dreams, new realities, new ways of being.
Lemme get churchy for a hot second here: In my faith tradition, Christianity, it’s Holy Week, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter, the week where we remember Jesus’ betrayal, death, and resurrection. Just so you know, I am not so much interested in the exact facts of how it all went down. What I believe, with every fiber of my being, is that something so powerful, so redemptive, so game-changing, happened in the lives of Jesus and his followers that nothing was ever the same again. Including our brokenness. I believe something about the life and death of Jesus meant that wholeness and healing are possible, no matter what.
There’s a song I love–it’s called Broken Things, by Lucy Kaplansky, and it sings this:
You can have my heart
If you don’t mind broken things
You can have my life
If you don’t mind these tears
I heard that you make old things new
So I give these pieces all to you
If you want it, you can have my heart
I also believe, with every fiber of my being, that life together, life lived in the love that God meant for us to live in, is the kind of life that takes old and broken things and makes them new. And I’ve no idea if John Hughes believed that too when he made The Breakfast Club…but I can’t help thinking he must have, somewhere, known the truth that in each of us dwells such heartache. And also, in each of us, dwells a desire, even if we cannot quite name it, to be whole.
And it is in working towards that desired wholeness that I believe we truly find our salvation from that which has threatened to destroy us.
We’re all a little (or a lot) broken…and the question is what we plan to do with that brokenness…on Monday, or any other day.
No matter how “bizarre” we might be. 🙂