The Breaks by Sarah Reinhard


reinhard_sarahSometimes you have to do things you just don’t want to do.  Sometimes you have to deal with people you just don’t like.  Sometimes you’ll work your tail off for…nothing much.  My mom used to call these sorts of scenarios “the breaks.”  I’d gripe about this or that hardship in my twelve-year-old life, and she’d reply, “That’s the breaks.”  What was most annoying was the smile she often had in her voice, an upbeat note that made me suspect that what was “the breaks” to me was not quite so bad for her.

As if doing something you just don’t want to do or dealing with people you just don’t like isn’t bad enough – then you have someone who is rubbing it in your face!  I don’t think she intended that (although I have no proof).  But learning how to deal with Mom’s reply of “That’s the breaks” sure prepared me for the less nice versions I get now.

I’ve been reflecting in the last day as to whether Jesus always liked the people He was around.  I concluded that if He didn’t, none of us would know.  He gets paid the big bucks – he is, after all, our Messiah – to be our example.  When he said “love your neighbor as yourself,” I’m pretty sure that’s my clue.

But then I’m reminded of how a grown-up once told me that you can love someone without liking them.  Maybe Pontius Pilate is an example.  What about the guys holding the whips at the scourging?  Or Judas Iscariot?

Jesus was fully human, so I can’t just write Him off as the Messiah who doesn’t know what I’m struggling with.  No, He’s in touch with the breaks as much as any of us are.  He’s been there, done that, got the t-shirt.  When I go to Him, asking for help doing the things I just don’t want to do, dealing with the people I just don’t like, working my tail off for no good reward, He understands.  He doesn’t brush me off and tell me to deal with it.  He doesn’t shrug and say “That’s the breaks.”  He doesn’t ignore my pleading.

Instead, He gives me strength.  He points me to the cross, the ultimate in the breaks.  He reminds me of His Passion.  For that matter, He reminds me of the thirty years he spent just being an ordinary human being, there in Nazareth, working as a carpenter, dealing with people day-to-day.

The more I return to sit at His feet and the more I give to Him to help me carry, the better I will deal with the breaks.  The more I pray, the more I can persevere.  The more I follow his example, struggling though I may be, the closer I get to being the person He wants me to be.


About Author

When she’s not chasing kids, chugging coffee, or juggling work, Sarah Reinhard’s usually trying to stay up read just one…more…chapter. She writes and works in the midst of rural farm life with little ones underfoot. She is part of the team for the award-winning Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion, as well as the author of a number of books. You can join her for a weekday take on Catholic life by subscribing to Triple Take, from Our Sunday Visitor.


  1. I’ve been wondering myself how to deal with “the breaks”: treating people you don’t like or who are rude to you nicely or doing something you dislike just because it’s the right thing to do. I
    t occured to me one day, that even if I dislike them, I can treat people respectfully and polite, if they are the loved ones of someone I love. For example, my best friend’s sister might be totally annoying, but because my friend loves her, I can tolerate her and even be nice to her (because I love my friend). But really, we are all our Father’s children, and he loves all of us. So you could say it was therefore easy for Jesus though he was human to treat everybody lovingly because he loved the Father so much. And that’s also why we should do the same.
    It doesn’t always work for me, but sometimes it does. Just imagine next time someone is rude to you that it might be the long-lost relative of your best friend and see where that takes you.
    Great article!

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