We all have chips and dents. My favorite plates have chips; my favorite cups have chips, and I have a hard time giving them away. Just because they have dents doesn’t mean I don’t still find them useful, or even beautiful. Chipped things can be beautiful.
I remember when I was pregnant with my first child. Sometimes I’d lie awake at night wondering how I could protect this baby from pain and hurt. I couldn’t come up with anything, and my heart ached. This baby was going to start out brand new, and I wanted to keep my baby whole and safe. Forever.
Emily was born and my mother described her as a rose-bud: small, pink and perfect. And sadly, I was the one who first gave her the first taste of pain…I was, in a way, her very own thorn.
Before Emily, I rode horses, carried birds on my shoulders, fed lambs with bottles and regularly walked in the middle of a small flock of geese. I climbed roofs, trees, pounded stakes into the ground and carried stacks of fire wood without much of a problem. I could still do these things of course, but carrying a baby took a bit of finesse, and one day, probably just a few days after Emily was born, I was carrying her through the doorway into her room, her head got too close to the door jamb, and her little head bumped into the doorway.
She screamed. I cried.
I caused her pain.
I felt terrible.
She was OK, but my heart was wounded and remorse filled my soul over and over and over and I don’t think it stopped for a very long time.
Apparently it still bothers me, twenty-six years later!
My point is simple, but yet it’s not: The reality is we all go through pain, and we can’t protect anything we love from pain. It’s impossible. I tried it, thousands of people have tried it, and it won’t work. I have tried it more than once. Probably a million times.
We all have seen someone we love or care about in pain more than once. For me, I have embraced the situation head-on, drawing whoever it was into my world (or perhaps I was drawn into theirs). I have fought for them, encouraged them. Other times their pain (I have to admit) was so great that I turned my own heart against me so I couldn’t feel their wounds. I’m only one person…and yes, it’s hard to admit that I can’t always hold someone like I want to hold them. But sometimes pain is so overwhelming that I don’t know how else to handle it.
Then the storms pound us, and that’s where we get our chips and scars and discolorations and cuts.
That’s when I, personally, look for my super-glue to fix things.
But glue doesn’t fix everything perfectly, and I’m OK with that. I still try. And I can usually piece together my chipped pottery so that it’s good enough, and if the piece is missing I learn to love my cup without all its parts.
Hurt is just a part of life, and we are much more complicated than a cup or a plate, because we can’t be fixed with super glue. We can’t go to our best friend and ask them to sew up our heart, or put a staple at the end of our finger because there’s a cut that won’t quite stop bleeding. We can go to our friend and if we are one of the lucky ones that have two or three good friends that we can count on just one hand, maybe our friend can talk to us and love us into believing in ourselves again. If we are one of the lucky ones, our friend will give us a pep talk and coax a smile out of us. And sometimes our friend will come straight down on us like a ton of bricks, and their words might sting, but it is their Truth. I have a few such friends, and their truths speak volumes to me. While I may not always agree with everything, their words are the glue and the staples I need.
I couldn’t undo running into the doorway with my baby all those years ago, but I rubbed her head and kissed her, and I told her how sorry I was. And I learned, and I hope I never did run into another door jamb (because I try to learn from mistakes). But that said, really? I probably just had to try a little harder. I have run into my own fair share of doorways since and before, and it was only me and nothing I was carrying.
I have a lot of chips and dents in me. And I have come to accept the chips. (Still working on the dents.)
And God isn’t throwing me out.
Pain is a part of life. We are all broken.
When it gets too much, I give it all away and God takes everything, absolutely everything. And too often I take it back, because I won’t let him carry my chips and dents. Then I give it back again. It’s a continual process, and I’m trying harder to let Him handle it, because it’s too hard for me to do on my own.
I am thankful. Even when things have lost their shine, I can find something to be thankful for…but I have to admit that there have been more than a few times where I was absolutely positive (without a doubt) that I had not one thing to be thankful for…
What a huge chip that was. I suppose it was more than a chip, it was a hole, yet God helped glue me back together. I wasn’t tossed out and given up for dead.
The other evening I was in the right place at the right time, and witnessed one of our explosive New Mexico sunsets. Orange and red and other fiery colors lit up the evening sky. It may not be romantic to think about, but all those colors come, in part, from all the dust in the atmosphere.
When life gets to be too much, try to look for a sunset and remember that no matter what, life is now and even if we run into a door jamb every now and then, tomorrow is fresh and new. A brand new page is waiting to be written. New sunsets are waiting for us. And of course, don’t forget the sunrises, too.