Last week my friends and I were discussing the line between brokenness and becoming whole. The word “broken” has been used especially in faith-based circles to describe the hurts, pain, betrayals and really any issues that have affected our lives negatively. I can very easily identify with how the word sometimes describes a broken spirit, broken heart, broken confidence and so on. We are all broken at some point in our lives and we can even go in and out of those times of struggle in our lives. So when my friend Lou looked at me and said, “You are whole” it caught me off guard. He said it twice as he looked me straight in the eyes. What did wholeness or being made whole really look like? Honestly I haven’t given much thought about how the spirit of brokenness is mended and is once again restored to full capacity. Yes I have spent quite a bit of time, in the recent years, identifying the broken pieces of my past experiences and have worked to rewrite my story, however I just haven’t thought about fixing all of those pieces to make them whole.
When my daughters were young it was their job to do the dishes after meals. After special occasions, I gave them a standard warning about the careless handling of the “fancy” dishes. On holidays, I used special dishes that were made from red clay and were covered in a white or black glaze, which made chips and cracks very noticeable. Wanting to teach them to be mindful of nice things, I told them it would cost them $20 a plate for any breaks or chips on the dishes. They did not have that kind of money and of course I was not serious, however they got the message to handle them with care. We joke about it now and at times when I want to replace my dishes, I tell them I will give them $20 a plate to break them. As I reflect on my desire to keep my dishes perfect, in that time of my life it was probably more about how orderly and perfect I was trying to keep my life. I thought that if I showed them a strong, confident and perfect mom then they would grow up to be the same. What I failed to realize is that this is impossible and not real life. It was an eye-opening experience when one of my daughters said something to me that really hurt me and I started to cry. She told me that I was not supposed to cry because she had me on a pedestal and she wanted to keep me there. She said that a mom who felt real pain was not part of the image she had of me. I told her that image of me was not real. The pristine image I had presented to my girls was only a personification of who I thought I should be but not reality. When I researched the art of the broken pottery, someone described the life of the bowl like this, “The true life of the bowl began the moment it was dropped.” If a dish, like my life stayed in perfect shape tucked away in a cupboard, it was not really living but only being stored for perfection.
We are all broken at some point in our lives. We even may go in and out of brokenness depending on our circumstances. There is brokenness like abuse, co-dependency, addictions and low self-esteem issues that follow us around and can be triggered at any time and most often when we least expect it. I do believe there comes a time when we have to make a choice to stay in our brokenness or seek to be healed and restored. This is a point of readiness; we need to move from the past hurts to a future of promise. Because it is a process of self-reflection, brutal honesty and intentional change of behavior, not everyone is ready for this step. That is their choice and it is OK not to be ready yet. You can’t force yourself to be who you are not. However, I think there are also some people who are comfortable with drawing attention to their weaknesses rather than their strengths. Moving out of our comfort zones takes courage and a fierce commitment to change.
The broken dish art is a good visual for me when I look back on my life. The inanimate object stays in perfect shape if it is stored in a cupboard to be admired for its beauty. Maybe it gets used every so often for special occasions then is cleaned and stored again. Is this dish serving a purpose? Sure and handled with care, it can be used for years for special times with special people. This perfect and pristine dish reminds me of people who very carefully choose, like me, to live their lives according to how they want to be perceived. They want to be kept on that pedestal to be admired for their perfection. However, if they we compare the bowl to our life’s journey, then our lives began at the first crack of heartbreak and as we aged the cracks and breaks became larger and more profound. Finally the events can shatter our world. This can be a devastating time. Only through careful self- reflection and honesty can we begin to identify all of our broken pieces and begin the healing process of restoration. The repair of the bowl with seams of gold creates a bond powerful enough to hold the brokenness together, stronger than before. The seam of gold for me is Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul says “May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable.” Through Jesus Christ, God offers us a relationship bathed in the grace of love, forgiveness and joy. Piece by piece, the love and acceptance that heals and restores me to wholeness changes my focus from the wounds of the past to the hope of the future. That hope opens my spirit to, not sit safely in the cupboard tucked away only to be admired, but to offer the same spirit of joy to others. All of our lives are works of art with scars and once we begin the process of healing, those scars are now filled with a bond stronger than when we were born. Jesus Christ takes my brokenness, holds it carefully in his hands with love and grace to mend and restore me to wholeness. I am re-purposed for a new life. I am whole and made holy through Christ’s Divine power to rewrite my story for God’s good purpose.