Once, when I was a kid, I was kneeling on the counter trying to remove a stack of dinner plates from the cabinet. I had a big family, so I grabbed a tower of stoneware plates and slid the heavy load off the shelf. The weight shifted. I lost my balance. Then the moment came when it was either me or those plates.
I came out of it in one piece, but the pile of plates shattered into numerous pieces all over the kitchen floor. For several moments I just stared at all those fragments until it sank in that not even one of those dishes could be salvaged.
Ever since I read Elisa Morgan’s book, The Beauty of Broken, I’ve been thinking about broken dishes. Right on the book’s cover, Elisa wrote that this was her story–and likely mine, too. And she was right. I’ve heard the horrible sound of plates smashing on the floor. And I’ve stood there looking at all the pieces.
When things go terribly wrong, that’s when the plates hit the floor. When our hearts are broken, when our dreams are shattered, when our hopes are dashed, that’s when we hear the crash of fragile dishes breaking.
What can we do with all the pieces?
I don’t recommend reacting like I did. I tried to repair my brokenness with my brokenness. My problem was broken pieces, but all I had in my tool kit was more broken pieces. Needless to say, my attempt to fix everything failed. And I was confronted with the question all over again.
What can I do with all these pieces?
Elisa says we can take our brokenness to God as our daily offering. We can sweep the whole pile of pieces over to Him, invite the Spirit into the shattered mess of our lives, and witness His redemptive working. Since reading her book, I often picture my daily “piece” offering in my mind. I imagine I am pushing a pile of shards and fragments toward God, saying, “This is what I have to offer.” Then I invite the Spirit to work in and through all that’s broken.
I rattle and clink when I walk. With each step I can hear the crunch of shards under my feet. Here’s the good news. The Redeemer offered the Priceless Plate of His own perfect life to be smashed into a billion pieces so that I would one day be made whole again. He’s always known what I’ve been slow to understand. From the moment when those first plates Fell with a catastrophic crash, He knew that He was the only One able put us back together again.
And here’s some more good news. The Spirit inhabits the broken—broken individuals and broken communities—so that we might participate with Him as He refashions us into something new. When we bring our “piece” offering to God and welcome His Spirit into our cracked up lives, that’s when we’ll see what Elisa Morgan writes about–“the beauty in the broken.”