ShAtTeReD, BrOkEn Glass

It’s quite possible I may have learned a tiny truth that will now allow me to live without intensive self loathing. It was sort of my “Ahh Ha” moment. I’ve been broken inside so long I really don’t remember when I was whole for the very last time. I may not care so much anymore. No really. I mean it.

I’ve felt broken in such a fierce manner; there’s no way to put myself back together. It’s an impossible task. Frankly I’d given up on it. I even lived hopeless for a long while.

I’m more like a pile of crumbles vs big pieces that can be glued back together. Have you ever dropped a plate, had it break into three or four pieces, knowing it COULD be glued, resembling the object it once was? Maybe it was mom’s vase, when dropped there was a chance the glued pieces would take shape again, even if it never held water, and would LOOK like it was a whole? Yeah, well that’s not the kind of broken I’m talking about.

shatteredglassI’m talking about shattered. The kind of broken where the pieces are more like handfuls of tiny shards, broken glass fragments, random, tiny, and shapeless; resembling nothing of the object that once was. THIS kind of broken is a near impossible task to reassemble and have it look “good as new”.

This is how my insides feel. My soul just a waste bin of swept up dusty bits.

I have felt defeated by the impossible task of gluing my life back together and I’ve beaten myself down with this knowledge. It’s impossible to walk through this world and not end up a bit fractured, injured, or broken in some way. I’m not sure why I’ve been so self loathing about this fact. No one gets out unscathed in life. It’s a simple fact. It’s just easy to be mad about it and turn the mad on myself.

Sunday I was sitting in church. I was listening but I was tired. I will admit my mind was wandering a bit and I was fiddling with the edge of my blouse when something caught my ear. Pastor Tommy said, “shattered broken glass,” in the midst of a point and it became the focus of the message. He described how a beautiful glass object reflected light. He talked about more things, but what hit me fast and hard, and made my mind freeze in one place, was when he added that, “when glass is broken, MORE light is reflected in the angles and the tiny pieces. The brokenness is more reflective than it ever was when it was whole.”

My mind began to spin with that phrase. My heart was grabbing onto it like a dehydrated wanderer in the desert. God began filling my soul with truths. The reason I can’t fix myself is because I’m simply not meant to. While my brokenness may not be ideal, I will arrange the pieces back into a new pattern and maybe even just a pile. I am not to be the original version of myself. I need to be authentic and real. I need to be who I am right now, even the broken version, and be true to it. I can be even better, reflecting more, brighter, dazzling even, if I remain in the new shattered truth.

Glass can only reflect what it’s surrounded with. It’s important to keep the focus not on the brokenness itself, but assuring it’s not ugliness or dull darkness as the only reflection in the angles and cuts of the shards. Keep the end goal in mind as I turn my face upward and it will be Him who is reflected in me, not the trials and the pain or the hardships.

As odd as it feels to say it, I’m going to keep my broken self and own it. The light reflecting off the broken bits in my life has already been used in ways I never could have imagined, in ways not possible, if I wasn’t a messed up, broken pile of glass.

I’ll work on improving myself, creating new parts of me, allowing my authentic self to shine through the tough times in new ways. I will not continue to harp on my failures to be whole or to have broken under the weight of some pretty harsh moments, and to not have been perfect.

Like shattered, broken glass, when the light from above shines down on me, I want only to be reflective of the light He provides.


Human brokenness walked into Starbucks

He was tall, thin, unshaven; he was rough. There was not a lot that was notable about him. He was obviously down on his luck, as they say. His shirt was not dirty, but it was well worn and it was probably the only one he had. His jeans were not as worn as you’d assume they should be for the way his sun beaten face showed the years of abuse the harsh Texas sun had punished him with. It was his shoes that proved this was day one of a new set of thrift shop clothing. His shoes told his story. They matched his creased and worn face.

The coffee shop he wandered into was timidly receiving of him. Immediately upon his entry, the staff took notice and those around looked up from laptops and books, conversations and laughs. The jovial music changed all at once and it seemed even the musical background changed to match his flavor.

It wasn’t so much that he had actually entered the shop, it was the way he did it. They all found it was hard not to watch his conversation, hard to not be curious. No one intended to be rude, but it’s also not every day you see conversations happening like his. He wasn’t rude, or disrespectful. Actually he was the reverse. He waited in line and talked to his partner. He was patient and even jovial.

What unnerved those around him? Surely there’d been those with “less” here before. He couldn’t have been the first. That had nothing to do with it, just trust me. He seemed unaware of this web spinning, the linking of an entire room to his shared experience. He was so deep in conversation, one everyone could hear easily, his toothless grin so wide and his animation so vivid as his hands helped tell the story, it wasn’t even that which made them all take a step aside and stare. It was his friend. It almost wasn’t even about HIM at all.

His friend? I wish I had words to explain him. My guess is they’d been friends, maybe even partners for years. The ease of the conversation, the familiarity, the need to not even finish a sentence before knowing the answer, it was that which bothered everyone. Emphatically he chatted in line and enjoyed the company.

At some point, when most tried to not look or stare, he grabbed a couple sandwiches and a bottle of OJ from the cold case in front of the registers. He didn’t blink at anyone around him, but moved to a seat in the center of the room and looked past everyone as he settled in and unwrapped the first taste of breakfast. He laughed aloud and hit the table in exclamation, covering his mouth then and capturing the crumbs before they exited.

The life long friend was not notable like our lean gentleman. I’d love to paint a picture for you, but maybe the lack of a snapshot is more notable; the complete lack of description. See, this friend, so deeply in conversation with our weary traveler? He was not anywhere to be seen. He clearly was answering in response to the questions asked, following up on remarks; to hear the conversation you’d swear there was an earbud in our gentleman’s ear and that this was a phone call.

It was sad, in a cruel way, yet he was happy. Very happy. His arm waved toward an unseen table mate and he made a grand point. It was almost hard not to laugh with him.

I approached the staff who’d been conversing as to the best way to handle him. They’d allowed him to go uncontested and keep his juice and sandwiches. They’d just have to throw them out anyway. They let him have them and kept watch from a distance. I noted the grace they gave him, the way they didn’t call the cops the first moment he entered. The way they didn’t engage the fantasy, but just ensured the other guests were okay. They gave him time and space.

I thanked them. I commended the way they treated him as a fellow human. We could use more of that in this world.

Mental illness sucks. There’s a mission just down the way. There’s a facility just a bit farther and many who have no resources filter in and out. This isn’t new to them. He may be, but the reality of walking human brokenness isn’t.
As I packed up to leave, I smiled at him. I let the God in me see the God in him. He is loved by my God just as deeply as I am. He’s no less than I. He is tragically fractured. I just feel broken. It’s completely different. I said a prayer of blessing upon his life and asked God to continue to walk beside him and be his healer.

Every person has a story. Each one is worthy to be told. I do not know his, but I saw a page of it and thought I’d pass it along. Share it.
Every single person you pass along the way in your life has a story, a struggle you know nothing about. Be kind. It almost takes no effort at all to pause and breathe, give a little grace, and just #BeKind. Somehow it always comes back to that for me. Kindness.