Sometimes it is amazing how a handful of seemingly unrelated things all come together and profoundly impact my life. What appears at first as chaos and happenstance...as disappointment and disarray...or sometimes even an accident...is actually encouragement in the purest form.
I met an amazing woman recently. I have not met her personally, but I have met her heart and her wisdom via email more than once now. Her name is Karen and she is Joel's mom (read her story at www.rainbowsearthquakes.blogspot.com). Joel passed away just this year and despite her grief and pain she has managed to encourage me in a powerful way. I have cried many tears in awe of how someone with such a recent loss could encourage someone else like me. Shouldn't it be the other way around? Quite frankly, her words have changed my life and I am thankful for them, however they came to me.
Recently I had some issues with some vases. My sister bought a beautiful vase for me as a gift for the anniversary of Ellie's death. And it was beautiful. And touchingly thoughtful. I fell in love with it instantly. But not a few hours after she gave it to me it was accidentally broken. My sister did her best to glue it together, but in the end it fell apart despite her best efforts. So, bless her heart, she bought me two more. One to replace Ellie's and the other for Aubrey. However, only one survived. Despite how careful she tried to be, one broke. When I unwrapped the tissue paper there it sat, in two pieces.
I did my best to stay calm, but what I really wanted to do what throw that vase across the room. I felt as though everything in my life was in pieces.
I was feeling discouraged to say the least. And then Karen sent me this message...
"All I can say is that I very much felt that I was sent by God to give you some word of encouragement. Encouragement is such an interesting word, isn't it? Not "make it better." Not "cure your sadness." Blow on the embers of your courage, until the fire is bright. Because that is what we can do for each other. Give each other the courage to keep burning. And maybe I am a broken vase? Maybe God has been sending you broken vases all along. This is what I felt when I read about your heartbreaking broken vases. God was sending me to send His love. But if you open the package, you might only see a broken vase. Because now there are broken places in me. I am a broken vase, but sent with love. Maybe you have a ministry to broken vases? I don't know... just what I thought when I read about that discouraging twice broken vase..."
Oh I can't even describe how her words shone like light on the blind spots of my perspective.
We are all broken vases. We start out so perfect and lovely, full of promise, yet we are all so fragile. It is only a matter of time until we get broken. Life and circumstances trample us into bits and pieces. Now just parts we wonder how will we ever be whole again?
But what we don't always see, at least not right away, is that we can't really be used until we are broken. The pieces allow us to be remolded, they allow our shape to change, so that we can be used for something greater than what we ever thought we were intended for. The breaking process hurts no doubt. And the cracks are like scars, they never go away.
But purpose is never without problems.
Perfect vases are beautiful, sure.
But broken vases are purposeful.
I kept the broken vase. I see it differently today than I did when it got broken. I see myself in it now and I see the message that came with it. It reminds me of the bigger picture I often forget. Sometimes the pain is so overwhelming I can't feel the pieces being glued back together. I get so consumed with the brokenness I don't even realize I've been made whole again.
And I now love that vase. It means more to me broken than it ever did whole.