Last week, my oldest dropped one of our drinking glasses on the floor. It slipped from his fingers like a ghost. He’s at the age when independence and dependence keep showing up for a game of tug-of-war, and it’s keeping all of us on our toes. I watched his eyes pop like a puffer fish as the blue Ball jar transformed into a million shards and flew across every inch of our slate tile kitchen floor.
After immediately quarantining myself in the kitchen, I shooed my kids out and away from it. Then I stood there, looking at all of the fragments and splinters. I wasn’t sad over losing the drinking glass; I was overwhelmed by what it had become.
Sometimes life feels like standing in a room surrounded by sharp splinters and rough-edged remnants of what was.
No matter how hard we try, we can’t force something beautiful from the broken we’re surrounded by. Sometimes it’s impossible to see past the mess, the silence, the loss, or the shock of our unmet expectations.
When you are surrounded by shards of glass, the only way forward is to risk a limp.
The first thing I did after standing and staring like some sort of monument of a mother in the middle of a mess was to whisper the word help. Even a paltry prayer for help can wake my hope that God is ever-present and unsurprised by the wreckage in my everyday. The next thing I did was bend down low to see the tiny pieces up close and start cleaning up, slow and steady.
There are a lot of people I love who are hurting right now. It seems like everywhere I look, I see those same shards of glass. It’s hard to know where to step or how to move forward. None of the situations and circumstances are easy. If I’m honest, I’ve doubted God’s care and closeness. I’ve wondered why He hasn’t moved the way I think He should move. I’ve wished He would just fix things and let me check the mending. I’ve wondered how I can keep offering the world around me the message of living water when all of the glasses I’d naturally carry it in keep breaking.
When I’m overwhelmed, I’m tempted to believe in scarcity and turn towards self-preservation. I want to clutch and hoard the little I think I can still keep intact, but God keeps nudging me to remember that He is the God who will lovingly receive what we offer in faith and surrender and multiply it for good and glory.
He’s been reminding me that I come from a long spiritual line of those who, like me, question Him and struggle. Of those who were told to cast out their nets again the next morning when the night left their hope empty and their hearts weary. Of those who offered the little bread and fish they had and watched Him feed and fill a multitude. Of those who poured extravagant love at His feet, and those who at first refused to let Him clean their feet. Of those who spent their life preparing the way for a King they were devoted to, only to come to an end they didn’t expect and a question they never thought they would ask: Are you the one we’ve been waiting for, or should we be waiting for someone else?
Pick up one jagged piece and then another, He whispered back to me in the kitchen that day.
Despite my orders to stay away from the room, one of my sons offered help by bringing a bag for the glass and asking if he could get the vacuum. Another son brought Band-Aids when he heard me yelp in pain after stepping on glass. And our littlest came closer with a box of tissues in hand just like others have done for her when she’s hurt or sad.
Moments like these give us space to see our needs and care for each other. They train us to give and receive love. Grace always weaves its way in and through the wreckage and the wounds.
Sometimes all we can do is stare at the mess long and hard, ask for help, and wait to see new mercies winnow through and make wonder again. When we bend down low, go slow, and look for one piece to pick up, we’ll find that one tiny piece and one more tiny piece become one small space by one small space made safe again. And together, we can choose to remember: we come from a long-lasting legacy. We come from a people who move forward, one shard after another, bringing whatever we have: doubts, questions, tissue boxes, broken hearts, new limps, Band-Aids, and love. And we move forward like we believe that the broken remnants laid down at Jesus’ feet can become a resurrection.
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