Broken Things


Sun and blue were stealing part of the morning in an otherwise rainy streak of days. The perfect day to wear my new sunglasses, I thought, as I pulled them from the drawer.

I’d bought them during last month’s visit to the States. Purchased in a store with wide aisles and cool air; placed in a huge cart filled with other special goodies. I picked the pair with the sparkly rhinestones that made me feel less like a 34-year-old tired mom and more like a movie star.

But sometime after I packed them in my suitcase, after they made the three-day journey to Indonesia, jostled through four countries’ x-ray machines, or after I’d unpacked them in my steamy Indonesian house in a race against my kids’ attempts at “helping” me, they broke.

Photo by Mr. Thinktank

The entire arm off one side was missing, chopped off along the way.

Typical. Figures. No movie star eyes for me. Those were my first cynical thoughts sprung from disappointment.

Hours later, I crushed the pretty new purse I’d bought in the States in the door of my car—after the rain had begun again and I was in a hurry to put my kids into their seats before another motorcycle splashed more water on me. One of the pretty beads now fractured and floating in the oil-glistened puddle.

Another new thing, broken.

Just like me, I thought.

Somewhere along the journey to Indonesia, through my husband’s and baby’s bouts with dengue fever, in the midst of the loneliness of those first years overseas, jostled through two pregnancies and two babies born overseas, rubbed against the heartbreaking lives of Indonesian friends, I’ve become more broken. Less new and shiny. More shattered by the poverty and hard stories around me. And, well, more gray.

Ideals of making a difference sanded down by the realities of serving. Bravery of adventure fractured by the fears brought by overseas motherhood. The closeness of community peeking through the cracks of my own sin.

Less movie star. More frazzled mom.

And yet…

He asked me to come here. He brought me through those hard things. He allowed the jostling to happen. And He alone makes me new.

And somehow, through my brokenness, the Gospel is made most true. My own cracks allowing His love inside me to be seen. My own humility—sometimes humiliation—giving way to His grace. And because of His brokenness, I, too, am made whole. I, too, am saved for a happy ending.

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