Tucked away in my kitchen cabinet are broken things—a ceramic boy with a cello, a favorite china Santa Claus from my childhood, two decapitated figurines, other assorted bits and pieces, as well as the cracked pottery basket that houses them. While my intentions are good to restore these pieces to wholeness with glue and a little patience, I’ve never taken the time to do it.
Initially, I had the items on the counter where I could see them, thinking having them in sight would make me work on them, but eventually they migrated to a lower cabinet, and then to a bottom shelf. Occasionally, when I get something out of that cabinet, I see them and think I need to take time to fix those, but then something else more urgent, or less tedious, snags my attention and I close the cabinet. Those broken things sit there in the darkness, waiting for the day they will be brought into the light and restored.
Perhaps you have things in your life that are broken. Maybe your resolve to accomplish something has been eroded by events that sidetracked you or people who said you weren’t smart enough. Your self-esteem may have been shattered years ago in an abusive relationship with a parent or spouse or been crushed by a critical or jealous sibling or work associate. Your heart may be broken from a failed romance or the unexpected death of a loved one. Or your body is broken from health issues that seem to multiply daily despite your best efforts to live a healthy lifestyle.
We all have broken places in our lives, and often, the way we cope is to put a put lid on those broken things and slide them into a dark place, out of view, and we hope, out of mind. But the problem is, the brokenness is still there. On the rare occasion when you lift the lid, or someone else does via hurtful words or deeds, all the broken things come spilling out. Your dreams are still hobbling on a broken leg and the hurts you suffered still leave you feeling decapitated.
So how do you handle those broken things in your life and maintain forward motion?
Acknowledge – The first step in dealing with brokenness is to admit it exists. As long as you deny or ignore the broken things, restoration can’t happen. Be willing to pull out the pieces and take an honest look at them.
Reassess – It’s easy to blame other for your brokenness, but take a second look and reassess your part in old wounds and shattered dreams. What part did your stubbornness, selfishness, or misperceptions play? Reevaluate.
Forgive – Forgiveness is hard. In our humanness, we want our offenders to suffer consequences for our hurts, to get their comeuppance. We also want offenders to admit wrongdoing and feel remorse. That doesn’t always happen.
When I cleaned out my mother’s house after her death, I found words on an index card from an unknown author in my mother’s handwriting. “Forgiveness frees you from carrying the burden of past resentments. It allows you to release the past so that all your energy can be fully available for the present. Forgiveness is the ultimate gift you can give yourself.”
Repair – While writing this post, I pulled out the cracked basket of broken things and looked at them again. My husband offered to make the repairs and I happily let him. Repairing our own brokenness is different. No one can do it for us. We have to dust off the pieces and fit them back together. You may experience a little prick of pain or nick of hurt or get a little glue on our fingers, but if you continue, restoration will occur.
“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart. And He saves those who are broken in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 NLV