I live in a home of broken things. There are very few things of beauty or value that have crossed our threshold and not been chipped, shattered, or mangled in some way. The echo of my mother’s lament, this is why we can’t have nice things, reverberates in my head as I clean and prepare for the holiday season ahead.
We have drawers of broken stuff. Boxes, jars, shelves that hold broken porcelain, homeless game pieces, warped pans. And the aspiring minimalist in me that says, “You ain’t finding the last three cards of that deck- better scrap it,” battles against the hopeless optimistic that says, “But what if you do? Maybe you will…”
Honestly, the minimalist has been winning out lately because pitching the broken thing hurts a lot less than the constant reminder that things are not alright. Even my strongest optimism cannot get me to truly believe that, when I happen to find a spare second, I am going to use that time to scour the house for those missing checkers, or bust out the super glue to fix that vase.
So as I take stock of the little things that are broken, missing, and not as they should be, I wish it was that easy with the big things -the evidences of brokenness that wrack my body, that undermine my marriage, parenting and relationships in general. It would all be so wonderful if it wasn’t for the fractures.
I tell myself that if I was whole physically, life would be so much better.
And then I hear God’s words to thorn-abused Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
We are all heading into a time of joy and peace and gladness. Thanksgiving ushers in a month of cozy evenings with family and friends. Even now we picture the families in the TV commercials laughing around the laden dining room table, or cuddling under blankets with hot chocolate.
But it’s also a time when we remember that brokeness was a vital component of God’s whole plan. Jesus entered the world uncelebrated by his extended family, under scrutiny and under the sentence of death. Heaven rejoiced with the shepherds, and yet Joseph was warned in a dream to take the mother and baby and flee.
His arrival meant a stigma for his parents- one that probably followed them for many years to come. Sure, some would be forgiving. After all, Jesus was actually turning out to be a pretty great kid, considering his parents weren’t actually married when he was conceived. But there were probably those few people, you know the ones, who had no clue what they were talking about but who would always be superior because they would never have committed that sin.
He was intentionally born into fractured culture within an oppressive nation. At every stage of His existence there was misunderstanding and hardship. You’d be hard pressed to find a time in Jesus’ life where His family actually understood Him, where His friends understood Him.
And that is one of the greatest gifts God could possibly give us- a Savior who is intimately aware of the brokenness that is a constant in the lives of His own people, and who redeems every bit of it.
Jesus’ death was not the end of His story. He was not overcome by the sin, separation, death and depair. He entered into it more fully than we could understand, all with the foreknowledge that He would be forsaken by His Father, and yet He trusted the Father completely. His sacrifice meant resurrection for Him and new life for us.
And the brokenness was part of the equation all along.
Your brokenness was. It still is. Don’t miss this: our risen Savior has scars.
So when plans don’t work out and words wound, we can look at His scars and know He was wounded too, for us.
When we are disappointed by ourselves, or by another, we can look at His scars and know that all that disappointment will not have the final say.
When we grieve over opportunities lost, over people who are gone, we can look at His scars and know that every plan of God means life for us.
Brokenness is a part of our story, and it is not to be stored away while we are busy decorating our lives with other pleasantries. It is the component that gives depth to our rejoicing. It allows us to enter more fully into the story of the Savior who was broken for us. It allows us to be filled with God’s abundant strength instead of feebly clinging to our pitiful, empty storehouses.
So as we enter into Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year, perhaps you would join me in thanking God for every broken thing we can find. Search out the broken things and broken people, and give God glory for His plan and redemption, because it was in our brokenness that Christ made us whole.
Photo credit: Joanna M. Foto