When You Break Something

There was something magical about that summer; something that took to the sky and hung in the setting cracks of sunlight like shimmery dust. I can feel the dusk settling. I can smell the grass beyond the simple white fence. I can, out of the corner of my mind's eye, remember the gentle breeze against wind chimes and the cool cement under bare feet. And, more than anything else, I remember the fireflies.

The creak of the old porch swing spoke the back and forth of my parents' rocking. My four or five year old toes danced me over to where I could see dozens and dozens of fireflies. They gathered all along the bushes, railings, and grass in front of our porch. I'd never seen so many! Here they were, hovering and blinking in a lazy cadence everywhere I turned.

I remember my Dad with a jar and plate, helping me to capture one solitary firefly in the upturned glass with the plate underneath as a seal. I all but pressed my face up against the jar, amazed at the blinking bug's appearance up close.

My dad let go, smiling. My hands, too excited or too small to be steady enough, wavered. My dad caught the falling jar. The plate hit the ground and shattered. The firefly blinked out and away. Gone.

How thin and constricted my throat felt. I can feel it even now. Hot tears burned until they fell from my eyes with a blink.

The strangest thing that twists within me every time I remember this story, is my absolute sorrow, no, shame in breaking my mother's china plate. I wasn't sad about the lost bug, but absolutely stricken with guilt and fear. When I could finally choke words out, I remember my dad looking confused when his reasurances that 'we could catch another firefly' weren't working, and I said, "I feel so sorry that I broke mom's special plate."

The fear of breaking mom's dish was paralyzing. She'd raised me to believe that broken things weren't fixable. Broken was not beautiful.

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I've learned a lot about brokenness over the years, namely that we are all incredibly cracked ourselves. Not a one of us is without blemish, and not one single fracture stands in the way of God's love for us. We can break and and bruise and never will our beauty in His eyes be affected.

So here's the question: Are we still afraid of the breaking?

I'm careful to watch the looks on their faces when one of my children knocks over a cup of milk, disrupts my order, or drops a dish. Do they meet my eyes with innocent disappointment? Or is there fear?

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If something gets broken, I want them to remember the tenderness in how we put it back together - however imperfectly.

Actually, hold that thought, I don't want them to be afraid of brokenness at all.

We must put on display for our children and friends, now, how we hope for them to approach the throne. When my daughters and sons come to recognize their imperfections, their tendencies, their own sin...I don't want them to hide in shame, but know that theirs is a father who wants to draw near to them in their brokenness and call them holy.

I want them to chase after fireflies, steady or not, and know that they might trip or fall or break or hurt someone. I want them to embrace brokenness, because it exists in all of us and we get to love and be loved despite all of it!

I believe it's your brokenness where God makes himself most beautiful in you. I have my own, ugliest parts of myself that bring me to tears just typing this. I cannot avoid or un-break these parts, yet when God takes them into His own hands, He shows me a new wholeness and beauty that I never could have imagined for myself.

If we believe in Jesus, we know that sometimes things have to be broken in order to be made whole. His very own body broken for our broken, our damage, our pain.

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"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

If the Lord will be with you wherever you will go, have you considered that He will go with you to those broken, unvisited places?

I would love to know how you've encountered God in your broken in the comments below.