It is kinda funny. Most people wouldn’t think so. But I do. When you have a lot of kids in a relatively small living space, things don’t tend to last very long. I have a little phrase that I like to tell people when talking about my super sized family:
“I have two types of things in my house. 1. Things that are broken and 2. Things that are going to be broken.”
At first, they usually chuckle as if they think I am joking. Then, seeing my smiling but slightly solemn look, they realize that I’m not.
Vikki and I long ago gave up the desire to have nice things. Function over fashion. And sometimes, even the functionality is questionable.
It used to really bother me. I don’t like broken things any more than anyone else. But, you know, at the end of the day, it is all “just stuff”.
At least that is what my Pastor’s wife said a long time ago after my brother and I destroyed her prized ceramic goose while tossing a beach ball around her family room. “It’s just stuff…” she had said eyeing the hopelessly shards strewn across the carpet. She did her best to mask her disappointment, it was an accident. A careless one, but an accident nonetheless.
It is all just stuff. And sometimes stuff breaks and you have to get rid of it. Sometimes, you really like that stuff. But at the end of the day it is all “just stuff”.
Except when it isn’t. It is easy to deal with broken things. But what do you do when it is people that are broken? Or families?
I come from a broken family. Some of you do as well.
Sometimes our families are broken because someone is haunted by the demons of their past. Or when the pain of past injustices just can’t be overcome. Addiction. Deception. There are a myriad of reasons.
What then? That brokenness isn’t easily mended nor healed. You can’t toss away people as you would a shattered ornament. Or at least you shouldn’t.
Sometimes, as difficult as it may be, you have to pick up the pieces and move on.
Tonight we had dinner at my oldest son’s apartment.
We had some great Mexican food. Pork tacos, rice, beans, chips and two kinds of salsa. Delicious.
Afterward some played a board game, others sat around and watched a little Netflix.
It was a really good time.
It was a night I never would have dreamed possible as a young boy reeling from the searing pain of divorce. I never imagined the joy and love that oozed from the sixteen lives squeezed into that cozy two bedroom apartment could ever be a part of my life. Even though I wasn’t, I remember feeling so alone and, at times, abandoned. Hurt irreparably by those that should have been protecting me. A painful time for sure.
Yet tonight, years later, there I sat surrounded by the ones that I love and loving the ones that surround me. Laughing with them, watching them laugh, squeezing them, and being squeezed by them. Enjoying their silliness and their warmth of their company.
It is amazing all this arose from such brokenness.
I am the most blessed man on Earth.
I know some of you are hurting. Many of you are broken.
Let me share something with you. The Bible says this in Isaiah 61:3 concerning the reason God sent His Son into the world:
“To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness...“
“To give them Beauty for ashes…praise for…heaviness.”
Wow. I can say I have definitely received this promise in my life.
God has taken the dusty ashes of a broken family and given me more beauty than my heart feels like it can contain. The heaviness that I bore as a young man has been swapped with the levity and peace only He can give. Amazing and mind blowing…
Do you have broken things? I know One that is in the trading business. He can take our brokenness and replace it with beauty beyond our wildest dreams.
We just have to give Him a chance. Let go of the hurt of our past and embrace the hope of the future He will give.
Your story may not end up just like mine. But, trust me, you too will be amazed by the beauty that will rise from the ashes of your broken things.