A little bit broken.
That’s how I feel on my best of days.
Rough around the edges. Stained on the inside—and sometimes on the outside. Cracked here and there, a chip or two gone missing. Things leak out, sometimes because I spill them and sometimes because I am incapable of holding them in.
A chipped teacup with some leftover flecks of dried out tea leaves nestled in the mar—parts of my story that rest mostly in these shadowy cracks. Add some water, swirl me around, and you will see my beauty mixed with my pain. Which parts are the most lovely is difficult at times to ascertain. The dark bits swirl around, and eventually settle on the bottom. Take a sip, drink the water—it is flavored by what came out of the chips & cracks that had been hiding, but it is the water that carries it to your tongue and that flows into you and satisfies the parts of you that were longing to be quenched.
I am useful despite my imperfections. Perhaps all the more because of them.
2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
The Lord meets me in my brokenness and comforts me. And then He gives me the ability—the empathy—to reach out from my own chippy cracks to meet others in this same place and comfort them. He gives Himself to me in a measure that is truly immeasurable, and then He makes my cup overflow so that I can give a measure to someone else. We pour into one another, often from the lip and more often from the cracks.
Sometimes I wish I were a perfectly kept, shiny, whole teacup without stains and chips, no hidden leftover tea leaves and no cracks threatening to leak little drips or big splashes. It gets messy—I like tidy. But I trust in the Lord my God, who created me to be His vessel, and He holds my broken self in His loving hands even now. (Psalm 31:14, 12, 15) Who is it that made me? Who cares for me? Who numbers my days and has already prepared the good works that I shall do? God my King, the Potter who forms us in His clay—who creates us, molds us, changes us, uses us, and even chips us—as it seems good to Him. (Jeremiah 18:3-4)
When I remember these things, I am reminded and comforted—all over again—that sometimes it is the chips and the stains that bring Him the most glory, that do the most to reach His people, that give me opportunities for greater good for the Kingdom, that make me useful and beautiful at the same time.
I am not meant to be left on a shelf. Beauty does not mean untouched, unchipped, unstained, unused. I am meant to be used for His glory, poured out for God’s people—after all, I am made in Their image, I came from clay, but I am a reflection of Him who poured out all of Himself for His people (Isaiah 53:12), and in the little ways He has prepared for me, I imperfectly image that pouring, that dying, that bleeding & brokenness. And that imaging and imitating is perhaps the most beautiful of all fragile things.
Brokenness doesn’t automatically bring us to the thin place,
the sacred place where God’s breath and touch are closer than our own skin.
Heartbreak brings us lots of places—
to despair, to bitterness, to emptiness, to numbness, to isolation.
But because God is just that good,
if we allow the people who love us to walk with us
right through the brokenness,
it can also lead to a deep sense of God’s presence.
When things fall apart,
the broken places allow all sorts of things to enter,
and one of them is the presence of God.
~ Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet, p94~