Broken…………What does the word “broken” mean? Hurt? Damaged? Fractured? Perhaps more significantly, what does the work “broken” imply? Repairable? If the thing broken were not repairable, would we not say “ruined” instead of “broken”? Of value? If the broken item were of no value, would we not refer to it as “worthless” instead of “broken”?
In my house, broken things have value. We do broken here.
Consider my dryer. Its door pops open. When the door opens, the dryer stops. This is a problem when drying clothes; clothes tend to dry much more slowly when they are sitting in a damp heap inside an inert dryer. One could say the dryer is broken…but not useless. If we prop a filled clothes hamper (it helps if there is a 10 lb. weight in the bottom of the hamper) or two against the door, the door stays shut, the dryer keeps running, and the clothes get dry. Fortunately there is never a lack of hampers filled with dirty clothes in our home.
The door on the freezer also pops open. This is a problem as the motor on the freezer tries to freeze the entire basement when the freezer door is open. Sadly (or gladly, depending on whether or not your bedroom is in the basement) the freezer motor is not strong enough to keep the entire basement frozen so the food inside the freeze thaws, drippings pool on the floor, and food that was formerly very valuable to my family becomes valuable only for my dog. One could say the freezer is broken…but not useless. A simple bungee cord, hooked to a doorframe and to the freezer door handle, ensures that the freezer door stays shut. [If only I could figure out a way to ensure my children remember to attach the bungee cord…..]
The knobs on our ONLY shower consistently strip. [Strip as in the threading is destroyed, not as in take off their clothes….there is lots of taking off clothes that happens near our shower as well but that is a different story.] When the knobs strip, one cannot turn on the water, which is a problem as waterless showers are relatively ineffective. One could say the shower is broken….but not useless. A pair of pliers and a flexible wrist are all that are needed to make the shower fully functional.
We got a crock pot for our wedding that I use several times weekly. It is legless but not useless. I simply put a canning ring and lid where the leg used to be and all is well. The crockpot still has three of its four legs; the rice cooker has only one of its original legs but, like the crock pot, it is still valuable. Dad Noel crafted a prosthetic limb for one of the missing legs and a folded cloth napkin works well as a replacement for the other.
Upon returning home from last year’s field trip to Yellowstone, I found myself in possession of a perfectly good rainfly; some student had left it behind. Anticipating that some parent would realize the rainfly was missing and try to track it down, I kept it over the summer. September came but no parents came. Hum…… The thing about a rainfly is that it really needs a tent; without a tent, it could be considered worthless. Worthless? Maybe. But, maybe not. I tried but I could not bring myself to throw it away.
After September came October and, with October, came the fourth cutting hay crop. I purchased what I hope will be enough alfalfa to feed my sheep over the winter and stored the hay in my canvas shed which, I discovered, has holes in the roof. This is a problem as rain and snow naturally gravitate through holey roofs. [Gravitate…..Yes, the pun was intentional. J] When rain and snow land on hay, they soak in, mold grows, hay is ruined, and sheep go hungry. This is really a problem, especially if you are a sheep. But it is not a problem if there is a spare rainfly lying about……. The rainfly is stretched over the hay and under the shed roof. Hay is dry, sheep aren’t hungry, Teresa is happy.
Our dear van is broken in too many places to list (without making this an exceedingly boring letter) so I will mention only a few. The automatic side doors open only manually, the back bumper is on cusp of coming off, and something under the car (I don’t even know what it is) near the front tire is attached with baling twine. Most significantly, the check engine lights are constantly on. One could say that the van is broken…..but not useless. We drove all the way to central Mexico and back with all the check engines lights on; the van was certainly useful. With the van, however, it has not been our interventions that made it useful. Some things are just miracles.
I had a delightful, soul-sharing, thought-provoking chat with a cherished friend a few weeks ago. In between munching on sandwiches, pulling wind whipped hair away from our eyes, and laughing about the ironies of motherhood, we discussed this concept of brokenness. She views herself as broken. She comes from a family that is broken. She was abused by a person who was broken. She is dealing now with extended family members on both sides that are broken…and their broken pieces are cutting her. All of them are broken……but not useless. Miraculously, she recognizes their worth through their brokenness. Her profound statement catalyzed this letter. “In a way, we are all broken, aren’t we?”
In a way, we are all broken. All of us. We are broken in various ways and in varying degrees but we are all broken. Broken by our own sins, broken by the sins of others, broken by health problems, broken by disappointments and despair; broken, all of us. And we are all repairable and we are all valuable. All of us. Sometimes our value is manifest through help from others (clothes hampers, bungee cords, plier and flexible wrists); sometimes our value is manifest as we find a meaningful purpose (rainfly); and sometimes our value is manifest miraculously (van) but always, ALWAYS we have value.
Through the power of Christ’s infinite atonement and the grace of His redeeming love, we are repaired. His blood paid the price for our repair, His profound empathy comforts our souls and His love heals the wounds brokenness brings.
Our status as children of God gives us value. As His children, we have a divine heritage and eternal worth, worth that transcends brokenness; gold is precious no matter what its form or level of fragmentation. And, as His instruments on Earth, we are valuable as we help others realize their worth, find their purpose, and recognize their miracles.
In God’s house, broken things have value. He does broken here.