I entered into the world as a clay bowl.
A masterpiece, elegantly crafted. Lovingly made.
Whole. But fragile.
My parents cradled me with care, proudly displaying me as their precious new masterpiece. But in the clumsiness of being first-time parents, despite their loving care, I was still dropped. I was handled too roughly. And tiny little baby cracks began to appear in the surface of the bowl.
As I grew older, these cracks deepened and new ones formed, with every strike, with every name I was called, with every verbal assault, with every time my heart was broken, with every experience in which I wasn’t handled with care or treated with respect. A deep crack ran through the bowl in the wake of sexual abuse.
Shards of me began to break off.
“No! Keep yourself together, others mustn’t see how broken you are!“ said my family, said my culture, said the Church, whispered Satan.
And so frantically, I glued these broken shards back together, over and over again, in denial of my own brokenness, desperate to hide it from the world. And I kept moving through life, through the world, in constant fear that others would see me for who I really was, cracked and broken, in constant strain of holding myself together, only to break again with the slightest nudge.
And so I stopped gluing myself back together. I allowed others to treat me poorly, because I didn’t deserve any better. I began to treat my body recklessly, because there was no hope for someone as broken as me. I gave my body away just to feel that for once, I was “wanted,” as broken as I was, by someone. Anyone.
I let myself break and break and break until I was found laying in the rubble that was me.
“I give up. I can’t. I am broken.”
And then Grace appeared.
As I lay vulnerable at the mercy of Grace, the strong hands of the Maker began to pick up the broken shards of me. Piece by piece, they were forged together with something stronger than anything I’d ever used, burning and yet healing at the same time. Little by little, my strength returned until I was whole again, stronger than any of my own feeble attempts to glue myself back together. No more straining to hold myself together. No more fear that with a little nudge I would come undone.
I cried out in dismay as I saw my reflection for the first time: streaks of pure gold shined brightly throughout the bowl, highlighting, drawing attention to where the cracks used to be. “But now everyone can see that I’ve been broken!”
And Grace tenderly lifted up my chin with a twinkle in His eyes, laughed with delight, and responded, “My Child, you are more beautiful for having been broken.“
From time to time, old cracks ache when poked and prodded, but never give. New ones form in the hustle of everyday life and with new wounds inflicted. Occasionally, I’ll take it upon myself to hide new cracks, only for them to crack again. It is only when humbled and vulnerable before Grace that these cracks are forged, they are burned, they are healed.
“Now go,” says Grace. “Go show the world the beauty of brokenness. Go show the broken the beauty of their brokenness.“
Broken and beautiful.