1 Samuel 1:7, 8
So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat. Then Elkanah her husband said to her, "Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?"

When I first read the verses above, I was annoyed at Hannah. How can she do that? Be right there in the house of the Lord and walk around all emo? Of course there's the ordeal, but does that give her a right to bring everyone down with her? Is that not selfish?

Then I noticed one of Elkanah's question.

"Why is your heart grieved?"

I looked up the word "grieved" and it means this:

"Broken up"

Hannah was not selfish. She was broken.

There's a maaajor difference between selfishness and brokenness. Selfishness is when you do things for the sake of gaining attention or things for yourself. Brokenness is when your whole being is completely shattered - your mind, your will, your emotions - that you simply have no strength to pretend.

Hannah was broken. She couldn't hide it. And now I understand her... because I was once broken.

A Million Pieces
I don't know how to explain last year. Sometimes I fear talking or thinking about it would transport me to then, and I don't want to go back. But I have to, I need to talk about it, if only to shine some light into Hannah's broken heart.

Waking up to the day was a nightmare. Meeting other humans was a torture. Showers were showers of tears. Music was no longer relaxing. Lying on the floor was better than on the bed. Darkness was better than the glaring lights. The future was a blank. Laughing was a slow exercise. Hugging my family members was avoided. Reversing out of the driveway was a pain because I developed a phobia of running over my pets even though I've checked under the car 3 times.

I was shattered.

Can you imagine how Hannah must have felt? I made a mistake - Hannah was most likely the first wife. So imagine the years of pain she went through, first trying to have children and failing, then having to let her beloved marry someone else, then watching Peninnah give birth to child after child while she still remained barren. She probably was fine at first, but as time went by, she must have been so broken, there was little left to hold her together. My ordeal must be so short compared to hers.

No Pretending
The difference between our brokenness is that Hannah was honest about it. I wasn't; I tried to hide it from those around me. I didn't let on just how much pain I was in. I am sure the paragraph above would shock quite a few people. Yes in spite of all that brokenness, I still had pride, although I would like to think that a reason for my concealment is that I don't like to see those I love be affected too. I knew I needed help, but I refused. They wouldn't quite understand anyway.

But Hannah... she was honest even though no one, not even her husband understood her. Her honesty disconcerts me. I have realized that I don't like people to see me as vulnerable. I think I must be strong and unmoved in trials. Not so with Hannah. She exposed her vulnerability, a form of humility I am only beginning to learn. It also requires some faith that no one would take advantage of her weakness. When will we learn, that sometimes it is okay to not be okay?

Honest before Him
The second and better part of her honesty was that she was honest in the house of the Lord. She was not afraid of showing herself, fractioned as she was, before God. Who would dare go to church today with an extremely sorrowful countenance? Aren't "church people" supposed to be happy? There are times when we just aren't.

Ah yes, the only Person I was completely honest with was God. Even then I didn't know how to express in words. I just knew that He knew, and that there is nothing I could hide from Him even if I tried to.

Maybe you're broken. I just want to say that it's okay to talk to God about it. You may feel unworthy to come into His presence. I did. I defined myself a failure. But it doesn't matter to God.

In fact, if there is any One who best understands your brokenness it's Jesus... because He was broken too. When He was hanging on the cross, His body broken, can you imagine how His heart was breaking when He thought of how the people He so dearly loved are the same ones who nailed Him on the cross?

And now here He is opening His arms to anyone who is broken too. The great thing about God is that He's always there. No matter how far away you want to run from Him or the situation, look beside you and you'd see that He's been running alongside you too.

A broken and a contrite heart -- These, O God, You will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)